Origins of Alphabets

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Origins of Alphabets

  1. 1. ORIGINS OF ALPHABETS
  2. 2. Although we call it the Latin  alphabet, and it has a Greek name, the alphabet actually has  far older origins
  3. 3. Egypt, Sumeria and the Origins of Writing • Writing began is ancient Mesopotamia  and ancient Egypt. • Both writing systems were developed  independently, and they are very  different from each other. • Neither of the systems incorporated a  true alphabet, the majority of symbols  were used to identify whole words or  multiple symbols.
  4. 4. CuneiformCuneiform is the system of writing developed by the ancient Sumerians, between 3500 and 3100 BC. Sumeriawas one of the first civilisations to develop in the world. It resided in the area of what is now Iraq. Thei system consisted of wedge shaped marks made with the edge of a stylus pressed into clay. The clay would then be baked so the marks could not be removed. “Cuneiform” is a Greek word meaning “wedge‐shaped”. 
  5. 5. HieroglyphsThe ancient Egyptians, another of the first civilisations, developed a verydifferent system of writing than the Sumerians. It was developed about thesame time as Cuneiform, but involved tiny pictures or glyphs which were usedto represent words.
  6. 6. The Phoenicians and the First AlphabetThe developers of the first true alphabet were the Phoenicians. The Phoenicians originate from the coast of the Mediterranean, in what is now Lebanon. They were a trading and seafaring culture, and had contact with both the Egyptians and the Sumerians. The Phoenicians symbols did not represent entire words though, but single syllables.  The original Phoenician alphabet consisted of 22 letters, none of which were vowels.
  7. 7. The Greek AlphabetIt is from the Greeks that we get our name for the word “alphabet”. It comes from the first 2 letters of their alphabet, Alpha and Beta.The Greeks were the first to introduce vowels into the alphabet.  
  8. 8. The Latin AlphabetThe Etruscan peoples if Italty picked up the alphabet from the Greeks, in about the 7th Century BC, and from the Etruscans it ultimately came to the Romans.The Roman Empire collapsed in the 5thCentury AD, but it’s alphabet would remain. The illiterate barbarians who conquered the remains of the Roman Empire would ultimately adopt its alphabet as they developed their own written languages. 
  9. 9. Your task, should you accept it Gather information and design an  “Alphabet Timeline”.  This will be an informational graphic  poster, A3 in size.  Start from the very earliest form of the  alphabet (Cuneiform and Hieroglyphics)  and continue the timeline to the current  alphabet used today. 

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