An alphabetic inscription written on a jar fragment found at the site of Tel Lachish in Israel and dating back around 3,450 years may provide a “missing link” in the history of the alphabet, a team of researchers said.
“Dating to the fifteenth century B.C., this inscription is currently the oldest securely dated alphabetic inscription from the Southern Levant,” wrote the researchers led by Felix Höflmayer, an archaeologist at the Austrian Archaeological Institute, in a paper published April 14 in the journal Antiquity.
The earliest evidence of writing that uses a system of letters to represent sounds — an alphabet — was found in Egypt and dates to the 12th dynasty (around 1981 B.C. to 1802 B.C.), with more examples being found from around 1300 B.C. in the Levant (an area that includes modern-day Israel), Höflmayer’s team wrote in their paper. In later times, the Greeks adopted the use of an alphabet system, followed by the Romans (with their Latin writing system) who also used one. The use of an alphabet system was gradually adopted by more and more cultures.
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