Archaeologists report that they have discovered one of the first sentences written with the alphabet, which was a charm against lice.
About 4,000 years ago, a people known as the Canaanites were the first to use the alphabet. This group of people lived in the area known as the Southern Levant, which now includes Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, and parts of Syria.
Oldest known written sentence discovered – on a head- lice comb https://t.co/eiLgEObaOu
— Guardian Science (@guardianscience) November 9, 2022
Rare inscription that is erased new light on in use of Canaanites language about 3700 years ago it was discovered on ivory comb in southern Israel, archaeologists sayhttps://t.co/s3cLozRZ2o
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) November 9, 2022
Notably, the Canaanite languages are a group of Semitic languages belonging to the Northwest Semitic languages. Until recently, no meaningful inscriptions relating to the origin of this alphabet have been found.
But now archaeologists in Israel have discovered an entire phrase written in an alphabet that was written about 3,700 years ago — about 100 years after the alphabet was first invented.
The comb was discovered at the levels of the Middle Bronze Age. of Lachish which contains:
1) a dead louse
2) the inscription “Let this tusk root out lice of hair and beard
3) This is our earliest complete sentence in written by the Canaanites.https://t.co/IkWzu98qv7rice.twitter.com/Xej9ZnPig5
— Christopher W. Jones (@cwjones89) November 9, 2022
The sentence was engraved on a small ivory comb cut from an elephant’s tusk, measuring 3.5 x 2.5 cm. It consists of 17 Canaanite letters and a total of seven words saying: “I hope this tusk kills hair and bearded lice.”
— John Hawke (@HawkeJon) November 9, 2022
The crest was found in Tel Lachish, Israel, in 2017, but it wasn’t until earlier this year that an archaeologist spotted the letters.
One side of the small comb has thick teeth for detangling knots in the hair, and the other side has fine teeth for removing lice and their eggs, just like today’s reversible lice combs sold in stores.
All 17 Canaanite letters on the crest are ancient letters relating to the first stage of the invention of the alphabet.
Since there were no elephants in Canaan at the time, it is likely that the ivory comb was a luxury item brought from neighboring Egypt, suggesting that even people of high social standing suffer from lice.
The inscription on the crest is direct evidence of the use of the alphabet in daily activities around 3,700 years ago.
“This is an important milestone in the history of the human ability to write,” said Professor Yosef Yarkinkel of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
And, to quote the British website The Guardian, the world’s first writing systems originated in Mesopotamia and Egypt around 3200 BC, but they were not alphabetic.
Christopher Rolleston, a professor of Northwest Semitic languages at George Washington University in the US, said they relied on hundreds of different signs to represent words or syllables and therefore took years to master.
He added that the first alphabet was invented around 1800 BC. people who spoke Semitic languages and were familiar with the Egyptian writing system. This system, known as the Canaanite or early alphabet, was in use for hundreds of years, especially in the Levant, and was standardized by the Phoenicians in ancient Lebanon. It became the basis for ancient Greek, Latin, and most modern languages in Europe today.
The results were published in the Jerusalem Journal. of Archeology.
Source: Daily Mail