Douglas Petrovich on Hieroglyphics and the Hebrew Alphabet


So you're telling me that we know and everybody would agree that whatever the first alphabet was, the first written language that uses alphabetics was derived we know from Egyptian hieroglyphics. Now, is that because of is it the letter a that looks like a bull or an upside down bull? How do we know that Egyptian hieroglyphics lead to the first alphabet? Well, we know for several reasons. One of which is that in its earliest form. And by the way, the earliest inscriptions were found in several sites in Egypt and several sites in Sinai southwestern Sinai. So from those early inscriptions, we know that at that stage, at that phase, the alphabetic script was extremely what we call pictographic, which means it's as if you were drawing something and anyone looking at the drawing could clearly tell what you were drawing because of the picture. So that is what was borrowed very clearly and again, agreed on by all scholars. That was drawn from hieroglyphics. And as time went along, Eric in the second millennium BC and by the way, that's the 19th century BC is when it started. Our earliest attested alphabetic letter is 1842 BC and the oldest inscription is 1840 BC. So as then time went along, the script evolved if you don't mind the term, in such a way that it became less and less pictographic. And if you think about it, that's really logical because you wouldn't want people to spend so much time writing every single letter drawing a well, you know, with good curvature, all of the forms of a picture. But if you could make it more abstract if you could write it faster, then it would speed up the entire writing.

Coming up next