The Phoenician Alphabet
by Maria Nazhmeddinova
Phoenician is a Canaanite language closely related to Hebrew. Very
little is known about the Canaanite language, except what can be gathered from the El-Amarna letters written by Canaanite kings to u Amenhopis III (1402-1364 BC) and Akhenaton (1364-1347 BC). It appears that Phoenician language, culture, and writing was strongly influenced by Egypt (which controlled Phoenicia for a long time), as king Rib-Adda of Byblos admits in one of his letters to the
Our knowledge of the Phoenician language is based on the few extant written texts in Phoenician. Before circa 1000 BC Phoenician was written using cuneiform symbols that were common across Mesopotamia. The first signs of the Phoenician alphabet found at Byblos are clearly derived from the Egyptian hieroglyphics,
and not from cuneiform. The twenty-two Phoenician letters are simplifications of Egyptian hieroglyphic symbols, which took on a standardized form at the end of the 12th century BC. Like Hebrew and Arabic, Phoenician was written from right to left, and vowels were omitted (which makes deciphering Phoenician even
Four Fun Facts
1. Since the Phoenicians travelled a lot, they picked up many ideas from other cultures including the alphabet , but they trimmed it to only 22 letters.
2. Each letter of the alphabet stood for a single consonant sound.
3. By simplifying the alphabet, they made it easier for people to learn to read and write.
4. Later the Greeks borrowed the Phoenician alphabet and now it is also the English Alphabet!