Proto-Sinaitic / Proto-Canaanite
The Proto-Sinaitic script was the first alphabetic writing
system and developed sometime between about 1900 and 1700 BC.
People speaking a Semitic language and living in Egypt and Sinai
adapted the Egyptian hieroglyphic or hieratic scripts to write
their language using the acrophonic principle. This invovled
choosing about 30 glyphs, translating their Egyptian names into
the Semitic language, and using the initial sounds of those names
to represent the sounds of their language.
For example, the Egyptian nt (water) became mem
in Semitic and represents the sound /m/, and eventually developed
into the Latin letter M.
Inscriptions in Proto-Sinaitic have been found at Serabit el-Khadim
a mountain in Sinai and at a temple for the Egyptian goddess Hathor
(ḥwt-ḥr) that is located there. The script was partially
deciphered by Alan Gardiner in 1916. Inscriptions very similar to those
found at Serabit el-Khadim have been found at Wadi el-Hol (وادي الهول).
Proto-Canaanite is a name used for a version of the Proto-Sinaitic
script as used in Canaan, an area encompassing modern Lebannon, Israel,
Palestine and western parts of Syria. It is also used to refer to an
early version of the Phoenican script as used before 1050 BC, or an
ancestor of the Phoenician script.
A small number of Proto-Canaanite inscriptions dated to the 17th
century BC have been found in Canaan. Most are short and were probably
written by Semitic-speaking travellers or soldiers from Egypt.
- Type of writing system: consonant alphabet (abjad)
- Direction of writing: variable
- Used to write: a Semitic language called Canaanite or Paleo-Hebrew
Proto-Sinaitic / Proto-Canaanite script
This is one version of the Proto-Canaanite script
using Phoenician/Hebrew alphabetical order. The actual arrangement
of letters used is uncertain. Most letters have more than one
From Serabit el-Khadim, Sinai Pennisula and dated to c. 1500 BC.
Information about the Proto-Sinaitic / Proto-Canaanite scripts
Free Proto-Canaanite font
Arabic (Modern Standard),
Assyrian / Neo-Assyrian,
Proto-Sinaitic / Proto-Canaanite,