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Numerical sampi

The Sampi ( neugriechisches neuter Σαμπί , Majuskel : Ͳ / Ϡ, minuscule : ͳ / ϡ) is a letter that in some pre-classical variants of the Greek alphabet occurred. It probably denoted a dialectal pronunciation variant of [ss] or a similar sound such as B. [ts]. In its ancient use as a letter sign it had the form Ͳ. In its use as a numeral, its form developed in Byzantine times over Ͳ, Ͳand Ͳto the modern sign Zeichen ( ϡ). According to the Milesian system, it has the numerical value 900.


The origin of the Sampi is unclear. It could either have emerged directly or as a further development of the archaic Greek letter San (Ϻ) from the Phoenician Sade ( Phoenician sade.png). In Phoenician, the sade denoted the emphatic s-sound. The San emerged from the Sade and was used in some variants of the Greek alphabet instead of the Sigma for the / s / sound.

However, the Sampi is not placed in the alphabetical order of the Sade or San between Pi and Qoppa , but is at the very end after Omega . That would rather indicate that the Sampi was a later re-creation.

The name Sampi has also not been sufficiently clarified. It could be related to the name San . One possibility would also be that it goes back to ὡσὰν πῖ hōsàn pî "like pi" and points to the external similarity between Sampi and pi.

Use as a letter

In some of the alphabets of Ionia ( Teos , Ephesus , Kyzikos and Halicarnassus ) and Pamphylia ( Perge , Sillyon ) there is a special letter with the form Sampi ionien.pngor Sampi pamphylien.png. This is probably the forerunner of the Sampi. This sign is in the 6th to 5th centuries BC. In Ionic and in the 4th to 2nd centuries BC. In Pamphylian inscriptions and is found in places where σσ ( ss ) in most dialects and ττ ( tt ) in classical Attic , e.g. B. ΘΑΛΑ Α instead of ΘΑΛΑΣΣΑ ( thálassa ) or ΘΑΛΑΤΤΑ ( thálatta ). How this letter combination was pronounced in antiquity is controversial. Since it goes back to * kj in terms of linguistic history , the pronunciation variant / ts / seems possible. The fact that the Sampi was later replaced by σσ could then indicate that the pronunciation had changed from / ts / to / ss /. Sampi ionien.png

Use as a numeral

In the system of Greek numbers , three archaic letters have been retained as numerals: the Digamma (Ϝ, today represented by the stigma , ϛ) for 6, the Qoppa (ϟ) for 90 and the Sampi (Ϡ) as the last numeral for 900. The Greek Numbers were created as well as the standard variant of the Greek alphabet that is still in use today in the Ionian city of Miletus . This is the same region in which Sampi was previously used as an alphabetical letter (documented mainly in Halicarnassus and Ephesus , and recently also in finds from Miletus itself). Therefore it seems likely that the letter was adopted to complete the numerals. Originally the numeral had the shape Greek Sampi pointed.svg. In this form it has also been adopted in the Gothic alphabet as a number for 900. In the medieval manuscripts the Sampi got its present form Ϡ.

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