The Brāhmī alphabet is the ancestor of most of the 40 or so
modern Indian alphabets, and of a number of other
alphabets, such as Khmer and Tibetan.
It is thought to have been modelled on the Aramaic
or Phoenician alphabets, and appeared in
India sometime before 500 BC. Another theory is that Brāhmī developed
from the Indus or Harappa script, which was used in the Indus valley
until about 2,000 BC.
The earliest known inscriptions in the Brāhmī alphabet are those of
King Asoka (c.270-232 BC), third monarch of the Mauryan dynasty.
Brāhmī was used to write a variety of languages, including Sanskrit and Prakrit.
Type of writing system: abugida - each letter represents a consonant with an
inherent vowel. Other vowels were indicated using a variety of diacritics
and separate letters.
Letters are grouped according to the way they are pronounced.
Many letters have more than one form.
Direction of writing: left to right in horizontal lines
Vowels and vowel diacritics
Asokan Edict - Delhi Inscription
devānaṁpiye piyadasi lājā hevaṁ āhā ye atikaṁtaṁ
aṁtalaṁ lājāne husa hevaṁ ichisu kathaṁ jane
dhaṁmavaḍhiyā vāḍheya nocujane anulupāyā dhaṁmavaḍhiyā
vaḍhithā etaṁ devānaṁpiye piyadasi lājā hevaṁ āhā esame
huthā atākaṁtaṁ ca aṁtalaṁ hevaṁ ichisu lājāne katha jane
Thus spoke king Devanampiya Piyadasi: "Kings of the olden time have gone to heaven under
these very desires. How then among mankind may religion (or growth in grace) be increased?
Yea, through the conversion of the humbly-born shall religion increase"
ALPHABETUM - a Unicode font
specifically designed for ancient scripts, including classical
& medieval Latin, ancient Greek, Etruscan, Oscan, Umbrian,
Faliscan, Messapic, Picene, Iberian, Celtiberian, Gothic, Runic,
Old & Middle English, Hebrew, Sanskrit, Old Nordic, Ogham,
Kharosthi, Glagolitic, Old Cyrillic, Phoenician, Avestan, Ugaritic,
Linear B, Anatolian scripts, Coptic, Cypriot, Brahmi, Old Persian cuneiform: