Protosinaitic script

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Protosinaitic script
Font Consonant writing
languages Northwest Semitic
Emergence probably from 1700 BC Chr.
Used in Sinai Peninsula, Mediterranean area
ancestry Wadi-el-Hol script (?)
Protosinaite script
Derived Ugaritic script , Phoenician-Punic script , ancient Hebrew script
Protosinaitic script (approx. 1500 BC)

The Protosinaitic script (also Proto-Canaanite script or pictorial Canaanite alphabet script ) is probably a forerunner of the Phoenician consonant script , from whose 22-letter alphabet the Hebrew , Greek , Latin , Arabic and Cyrillic script are derived. It is believed to have been around 1700 BC. BC under the influence of the concept of the single consonant signs of the Egyptian hieroglyphs on the Sinai Peninsula originated. The writing is made by the location and to distinguish them from the more recent so-called Sinai font proto Sinai table called. It may have a forerunner in the so-called Wadi-el-Hol script .


In 1905, the British Egyptologist Flinders Petrie discovered inscriptions in a still unknown script in the ancient Egyptian mining sites of Sarabit al-Chadim , Wadi Maghara and Bir Nasib. He suspected that it was an alphabet font. In 1915, the British Egyptologist Alan Gardiner succeeded in deciphering the characters.

Influence on other alphabets

The Phoenician alphabet , which emerged from the Protosinaite script, is the basis of the Aramaic , Hebrew and Greek alphabets. The concept of the Ugaritic script is probably also based on this script. The various Indian scripts and the Arabic script emerged from the Aramaic script . The Greek alphabet emerged from the Phoenician alphabet and was the basis of the Latin and the Cyrillic alphabet. The majority of the alphabets used today can therefore be traced back to the Protosinaite script. The oldest archaeological finds of the Phoenician alphabet date to around 1100 BC. Chr.

Character encoding

As of the beginning of 2020, the Unicode consortium had a discussion paper on character encoding in Unicode, in which various questions are dealt with that would have to be clarified before the font can actually be included in Unicode.


List of characters in comparison with other alphabets
Protosinaitic Phoenician Hebrew Arabic Greek Latin
Proto-Canaanite letter alp.svg PhoenicianA-01.svg א Aleph أ Alif Α alpha A.
Proto-Canaanite letter bet.svg PhoenicianB-01.svg ב Beth ب Ba Β beta B.
Proto-Canaanite letter gaml.svg PhoenicianG-01.svg ג Gimel ج Jīm Γ gamma C.
Proto-Canaanite letter digg.svg PhoenicianD-01.svg ד Daleth د Dāl Δ delta D.
Proto-Canaanite letter haw.svg PhoenicianE-01.svg ה Hey هـ Ha Ε epsilon E.
Proto-Canaanite letter waw.svg PhoenicianW-01.svg ו Waw و Waw Ϝ Digamma F.
Υ Ypsilon Y
Proto-Canaanite letter zen.svg PhoenicianZ-01.svg ז Zajin ز Zay Ζ Zeta Z
Proto-Canaanite letter het.svg PhoenicianH-01.svg ח Chet ح Ha' Η Eta H
PhoenicianTet-01.png ט Tet ط Ṭā ' Θ Theta
Proto-Canaanite letter yad.svg PhoenicianI-01.svg י iodine ي Ya Ι Iota I.
Proto-Canaanite letter kap.svg PhoenicianK-01.svg כ Cap ك Coffee Κ Kappa K
Proto-Canaanite letter lamd.svg PhoenicianL-01.svg ל Lamed ل Lam Λ Lamda L.
Proto-Canaanite letter mem.svg PhoenicianM-01.svg מ Mem م Mim Μ My M.
Proto-Canaanite letter nahs.svg PhoenicianN-01.svg נ Now ن Now Ν Ny N
PhoenicianX-01.svg ס Samech س Sin Ξ Xi X
Proto-Canaanite letter en.svg PhoenicianO-01.svg ע Ajin ع Ain Ο Omicron O
Proto-Canaanite letter pit.svg Phoenician P-01.svg פ Pe ف fa Π pi P
Proto-Canaanite letter sad.svg PhoenicianTsade-01.svg צ Tzade ص Sad Ϻ San
Proto-Canaanite letter qup.svg PhoenicianQ-01.svg ק Koph ق Qaf Ϙ Qoppa Q
Proto-Canaanite letter ras.svg PhoenicianR-01.svg ר Resch ر Ra Ρ Rho R.
Proto-Canaanite letter sims.svg PhoenicianS-01.svg ש Schin / Sin ش Shin Σ Sigma S.
Proto-Canaanite letter taw.svg Proto-semiticT-01.svg ת Taw ت Ta Τ dew T

See also


  • Alan H. Gardiner , Thomas E. Peet: The Inscriptions of Sinai I. London 1917. (2nd ed. Rev. & Augmented by Jaroslav Černý, London 1952.)
  • Alan H. Gardiner, Thomas E. Peet, Jaroslav Černý : The Inscriptions of Sinai II. London 1955.
  • Alan H. Gardiner: The Egyptian Origin of the Semitic Alphabet, in: Journal of Egyptian Archeology 3 (1916), pp. 1-16.
  • Orly Goldwasser : Canaanites Reading Hieroglyphs. Horus is Hathor? - The Invention of the Alphabet in Sinai, in: Egypt and Levante 16 (2006), pp. 121-160.
  • Gordon J. Hamilton: The Origins of the West Semitic Alphabet in Egyptian Scripts (= Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Monograph Series 40). Washington 2006. ISBN 0-915170-40-X
  • Ludwig D. Morenz : Egypt and the birth of the alphabet. (= Archeology, inscriptions and monuments of ancient Egypt. Volume 3). Marie Leidorf, Rahden (Westphalia) 2016, ISBN 978-3-86757-533-1 .
  • Ludwig D. Morenz, David Sabel: Sinai and alphabet writing. The earliest alphabetic inscriptions and their Canaanite-Egyptian origin in the second millennium BC Chr. (= Studia Sinaitica. Volume 3.) EB-Verlag Dr. Brandt, Berlin [2019], ISBN 978-3-86893-252-2 .
  • Benjamin Sass: The Genesis of the Alphabet and Its Development in the Second Millennium BC (= Egypt and Old Testament 13). Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 1988, ISBN 3-447-02860-2
  • Paul D. LeBlanc: Deciphering the Proto-Sinaitic Script . Subclass Press, Ottawa 2017, ISBN 978-0-9952844-0-1 , Deciphering the Serabit el-Khadim Inscriptions from Sinai, p. 99-190 (English, online ).

Web links

Commons : Proto-Canaanite Alphabet  - album of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Hans-Günter Semsek: Egypt and Sinai. Pharaonic temples and Islamic traditions. 3. Edition. DuMont, Ostfildern 2011, ISBN 978-3-7701-6619-0 , p. 390.
  2. ^ Anshuman Pandey: Revisiting the Encoding of ProtoSinaitic in Unicode (Unicode Document L2 / 19-299). Unicode Technical Committee, July 30, 2019, accessed January 27, 2020 .