Saturday, January 16, 2010


This  table of signs attempts to show how the northern and southern Arabian scripts (consonantal alphabet) developed from the West Semitic (Canaanite) proto-alphabet (consonantary).
To see an enlarged version, click on the photograph of each section (and a printout can then be made, if desired).

On the right-hand side, the original characters are shown, with arrowheads pointing to Arabian letters which may be derived from them.
On the left-hand side, the columns exhibit a selection of North Arabian letters (D indicates early Dadanitic, Dedanite) and South Arabian signs (S is for Sabaean).
The middle section shows forms of the Phoenician (Phn), Aramaic (Dan stela), and Moabite, of the Iron Age, alongside Dadanitic letters; this demonstrates the improbability of the Arabian alphabet having been based on the Phoenician consonantal alphabet in the Iron Age.

The general table below shows the whole range of the development of alphabetic scripts in the Bronze and Iron Ages, from borrowed Egyptian hieroglyphs to Greek letters.
Click on the image to see a very large version of the table.

Source for the forms of the Arabian letters:
Michael C. A. Macdonald, Reflections on the linguistic map of pre-Islamic Arabia, Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 11 (2000) 28-79

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