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Historical letters dating to 1700

In Syria and Palestine, the geographical centre of the Fertile Crescent, three nations—Israel, Phoenicia, and Aram—played an increasingly important political role.To the south of the Fertile Crescent, the Sabaeans, a South Arabian people (also Semites, though South Semites), attained a position of wealth and importance as commercial intermediaries between the East and the Mediterranean.In default of other direct evidence, it is reasonable to suppose that the actual prototype of the alphabet was not very different from the writing of the earliest North Semitic inscriptions now extant, which belong to the last two or three centuries of the 2nd millennium .The North Semitic alphabet was so constant for many centuries that it is impossible to think that there had been any material changes in the preceding two to three centuries.

historical letters dating to 1700-6historical letters dating to 1700-32

It is idle to speculate on the meaning of the various discoveries referred to.The Canaanite and Aramaic branches constitute the North Semitic main branch.The two Canaanite branches may be subdivided into several secondary branches.Thousands of clay tablets were found there, documents of inestimable value in many fields of research (including epigraphy, philology, and the history of religion).Dating from the 15th and 14th centuries and are thus the earliest preserved documents in an alphabetic writing.Among the various other theories concerning the alphabet are the hypotheses that the alphabet was taken by the Philistines from Crete to Palestine, that the various ancient scripts of the Mediterranean countries developed from prehistoric geometric symbols employed throughout the Mediterranean area from the earliest times, and that the proto-Sinaitic inscriptions (discovered since 1905 in the Sinai Peninsula) represent a stage of writing intermediate between the Egyptian hieroglyphics and the North Semitic alphabet.Another hypothesis, the Ugaritic theory, evolved after an epoch-making discovery in 1929 (and the years following) at the site of the ancient Ugarit, on the Syrian coast opposite the most easterly cape of Cyprus.Moreover, the North Semitic languages, based as they are on a consonantal root (i.e., a system in which the vowels serve mainly to indicate grammatical or similar changes), were clearly suitable for the creation of a consonantal alphabet.The inventor or inventors of the alphabet were, no doubt, influenced by Egyptian writing—perhaps also by other scripts.That they manifest closely related efforts is certain; what the exact relationship among these efforts was, and what their relationship with the North Semitic alphabet was, cannot be said with certainty.It can, however, be ascertained that the period from 1730 to 1580 Syria, Palestine, and Egypt, during which there was an uprooting of established cultural and ethnic patterns in the Fertile Crescent, provided conditions favourable to the conception of an alphabetic script, a kind of writing that would be more accessible to larger groups of people, in contrast to the scripts of the old states of Mesopotamia and Egypt, which were confined largely to the priestly class.

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