The Aramaic alphabet was adaptaed from the Phoenician
alphabet during the 8th century BC and was used to write
the Aramaic language until about 600 AD. The Aramaic alphabet
was adapted to write quite a few other languages, and developed
into a number of new alphabets, including the Hebrew square script
and cursive script, Nabataean, Syriac, Palmyrenean, Mandaic,
Sogdian, Mongolian and probably the Old Turkic script.
Type of writing system: consonant alphabet (abjad)
Direction of writing: right to left in horizontal lines
Used to write
Aramaic, a Semitic language which was the lingua franca of much of the
Near East from about 7th century BC until the 7th century AD, when it
was largely replaced by Arabic. Classical or Imperial Aramaic was the
main language of the Persian, Babylonian and Assyrian empires and spread
as far as Greece and the Indus valley.
After Alexander the Great destroyed the Persian Empire, Aramaic ceased
to be the official language of any major state, though continued to
be spoken widely. It was during this period that Aramaic split into
western and eastern dialects.
Aramaic was once the main language of the Jews and appears in some of the
Dead Sea Scrolls. It is still used as a liturgical language by Christian
communities in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, and is spoken by small numbers
of people in Iraq, Turkey, Iran, Armenia, Georgia and Syria.
Today Biblical Aramaic, Jewish Neo-Aramaic dialects and the Aramaic
language of the Talmud are written in the Hebrew alphabet,
while the Syriac alphabet is used to write Syriac and Christian
Neo-Aramaic dialects, and the Mandaic alphabet is used for Mandaic.
Early Aramaic alphabet
The Early Aramaic alphabet was developed sometime during
the late 10th or early 9th century BC and replaced Assyrian cuneiform as the
main writing system of the Assyrian empire.
Imperial Aramaic alphabet
This version of the Aramaic alphabet dates from the 5th century BC
and was used to write Imperial Aramaic, the standardised and offical
language of the Archaemenid Empire. It was adapted to write Hebrew
during the 5th century BC, and the modern version shown below is
still used to write Neo-Aramaic dialects.
Square script for Aramaic
Download Aramaic alphabet charts in Excel
or PDF format
Sample text in Aramaic (Isaric dialect)
Yàlidïn ìnon čol-ènašëya čwaþ χeḁrrëya we šàwyëya va ǧurča we va zìdqëya. Bìyìzvədun yal χuešaba we yal þeḁrþa, we koyìsˀərun χàd ləwaþ χàd va ruχa di àχuþa.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with
reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. (Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)