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The finding is considered to be significant because it helps to fill in a gap between early testimonies of scripts and the development of Semitic alphabets in the area. The researchers note that prior research has shown that early alphabets existed in the area as early as the 19th century BCE but then there is no mention of them in historical records until the 13th or 12th centuries—this new script represents an alphabet between them.
The researchers have been able to transcribe some of the writing on the shard—some of the letters appear to be forms of daled, ayin and bet, which combine to create the word “eved,” which in Hebrew means slave. Another bit of script appears to spell out the word for nectar. The researchers note that prior evidence has shown that all of the alphabets created around the world got their start with hieroglyphs. The writing they found represents an early part of the process that led to an alphabet. They also note that it proves that the alphabet that arose in the Levant did not come from Egypt.
Felix Höflmayer et al. Early alphabetic writing in the ancient Near East: the ‘missing link’ from Tel Lachish, Antiquity (2021). DOI: 10.15184/aqy.2020.157
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Oldest piece of writing ever found in Israel identified on ancient shard of pottery (2021, April 16)
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