The Invention of the Alphabet: Historical Sleuthing and the Power of Naming

Sadly, as is the case with so many artefacts, the creators (both of the system and of the individual inscriptions over the centuries) did not leave a detailed explanation or transparently sign their names. Because the first millennium alphabet is used for Phoenician, Hebrew, Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite—all Canaanite languages—as well as Aramaic, the consensus is that the inventors were Canaanites and most have suggested (or assumed) that those responsible were literate, perhaps with some scribal training. 

By Robert D. Holmstedt
University of Toronto,
University of the Free State
March 2019

Cognitively as well as sociologically, writing underpins ‘civilization’, the culture of cities. (Jack Goody, The Interface Between the Written and the Oral [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987], 300).

There may be no greater technological invention in human history than writing.

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