Thursday, February 2, 2023
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Thursday, February 2, 2023

Ugaritic: One of the world’s first alphabets originated in Syria

The letter was a cultural gift the importance of which is recognized by all people everywhere. Even scientists consider the invention of the alphabet to be one of the greatest innovations of the human mind. Its invention led to the progress of civilization as its development has been closely related to the sophistication of its language. A civilization is not complete without the development of its writing.

Ugaritic alphabets

Introduction:

In the beginning, languages relied on primitive pictorial signs; writing based on images of nature such as animals and birds, like the hieroglyphic line, whose ability was limited to the expression of direct material meanings which are limited in effect. The Canaanites abandoned the Sumerian language and created another approach that did not depend on images and forms. In their first experiments, they invented the “first alphabet” called the “ideograph” which appeared in the period between 1650 and 1550 BC. Two “innovative alphabets” were created at that time: the Sinaitic alphabet, samples of which were found in central Sinai, and the Ugaritic alphabet, which appeared in the city of Ugarit (currently known as Ras Shamra and Ras Ibn Hani) on the northern coast of Syria.

the Ugaritic language became one of the greatest ancient literary discoveries since the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs and cuneiform writing in ancient Mesopotamia

Ugaritic:

After its discovery by French archaeologists in 1929, the Ugaritic language became one of the greatest ancient literary discoveries since the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs and cuneiform writing in ancient Mesopotamia. It was scientifically verified that the Ugaritic language is a Semitic one that was used in the ancient city of Ugarit as an official language, along with other languages ​​such as Canaanite, in which texts codified the intellectual and social life in addition to the philosophical, economic, literary, scientific and religious aspects of life in the city of Ugarit. This language was of great importance to the scholars of the Old Testament in clarifying the Hebrew biblical texts, and it revealed in more than one way the relationship between the culture of the ancient Hebrews and its parallel neighboring cultures.

Writing continued using the Ugaritic alphabet (with Semitic roots) from the 14th century BC to the 12th century BC, before the city of Ugarit was destroyed in 1180-1170 BC.

Fragment of an inscription clay cone of Urukagina (or Uruinimgina), legal (prince) of Lagash. c2350BC; Credit: Wikimedia Commons. public Domain

It is worth noting that several years ago an American archaeological mission in Luxor, southern Egypt, found inscriptions in an alphabet that is very similar to the Sinaitic and Phoenician writings, which were engraved in the rock. The inscriptions date back to about 1800 BC which is prior to the previously thought timeline for the invention of the Ugaritic and Sinaitic alphabets.

The Ugaritic language is a conservative Semitic language. It retains most of the primary Semitic phonemes, adverbs, and sentence order of the early Semitic languages

Vital features in Ugaritic (Syntax and Morphology):

Ugaritic is an inflectional language, and being a Semitic language, its grammatical characteristics are very similar to those of Arabic and Akkadian. This language has two genders of pronouns (masculine and feminine), three cases of nouns and participles, three counting methods (singular, dual, and plural), and grammatical aspects similar to their counterparts in the Western Semitic branch. The word order in Ugaritic is Verb-Subject-Object (VSO). The Ugaritic language is a conservative Semitic language. It retains most of the primary Semitic phonemes, adverbs, and sentence order of the early Semitic languages.

Credit: The Schoyen Collection

Conclusion:
There is near unanimity among researchers that the alphabets of the world had begun in the writings of the Sinai region to the farthest borders of the Levant in the north and west, and were influenced by what was found in this region. Many types of inscriptions in letters of the alphabet moved from the coasts of the Mediterranean eastward into Asia as far as India, while the Phoenicians (ancient Syrians) established an alphabetical system that became a legacy that other countries inherited from them and transferred it to Europe.

George Tuma
George Tuma
George Tuma is the publisher and chief editor of Medical & Cosmetic Arts Magazine; specialist in Spirituality, Health, and Healing; an Instructor of Electro Cosmetic, Therapy and a Practioner of Holistic Medicine, (Complementary and Alternative). He has published several articles in scientific journals.

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