The passage from ideograms to alphabet has been slow. The first signs of literacy divesting their ideology were the ones of the Seiritas, used after by the Phoenicians. These characters represent the sounds on which the modern writing is based. The memorial stone represented below is from the IX century before Christ. It was found in Nora. The inscription is in honour of the Temple of Pumair, and mentions the word of Sardinia (Italy) for the first time:


Grave stone with Seiritas characters in honour to a dead person.



The modern manner of writing is based on the Phoenicians characters. From the Punic and Phoenician alphabet are based the ones used by the Hebrews, Greeks, Italics, Iberians, Germans, Slaves, Arabs, Liberians and Indians. The abundance of alphabets derived from the antic hieroglyphic Egyptian characters must not induce us to think it was the only and most remote source of alphabetic signs. Probably the oldest is the cuneiform one, which has also ideographic roots. See a sample below:


The following table shows some particular signs with their interpretation en French. In English, from top to end, they mean: ear, well, message, dog.



And now, I translate some ideograms with different modes, depending from where the person who wrote them is. On the table below, they are translated in French. From top to end they mean, in English: head, hand, swallow and barley.





The first signs appeared on the stone, and then people leaved the stone ahead because it lacks manoeuvrability. They wrote with a paintbrush or engrave with a chisel. Looking for something more handy, the Babylonians began to use clay, a lot softer than stone and, when becoming dry, it acquires necessary the necessary consistence to be conserved. Babylonians used cuneiform characters, engraving them with a metallic burin. Egyptians preferred wood boards, on which they wrote with ink. Ink was already known in their times. To write, they used document tubes duly prepared. Wood is lighter and more malleable than stone and clay. But the Egyptians were not quite satisfied with it, and they invented the papyrus, which they made with a palm looking plant called the same name. This plant can reach a height of 3 meters. The oldest papyrus found was written in Egypt 3000 years before Christ. Greek and Latin papyrus found in Egypt are much more recent. In 1962 a papyrus was found in Derveni, at 10 km from Thessalonica, it is from the IV century before Christ and the first known in Greek characters.



Papyrus plants



A detail from the book of the death. Funeral Egyptian text on papyrus

 Egyptian Museum in Turin, Italy


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