Cuneiform and Phoenician Writings

Systems that set standards for writing!

What is Cuneiform?

Cuneiform is one of the most ancient middle-eastern writing systems that have been discovered. The term "cuneiform" was developed by Latin and Middle French peoples meaning "wedge-shaped". This makes sense, since this is how the writing of cuneiform looks like.

Origin and Character of Cuneiform

The Sumerians - who inhabited much of southern Mesopotamia - were the first people to use cuneiform as their main writing systems. The first traces of cuneiform were dated back to the fourth millennium BCE. Back then, their writings were recorded on pictographic tablets, and the symbols represented objects, and were associated with numbers and names in some way.

Cuneiform Writing

The primary cuneiform characters were written to represent the most basic of ideas, like animals, nature, and people. To make the writing system more vast, and descriptive, numerical circle patterns were added to cuneiform in order to make the language even more descriptive.

Impacts of Cuneiform

Many characteristics of the Cuneiform system have been very influential toward writing. Since the Sumerian system is the oldest, it was one of the most influential of all writing systems. The setup of the writings have perhaps been the most influential though. For example, many future writing systems, like Egyptian hieroglyphics have been based on the wedge-shaped setup of Cuneiform. There are even some writings and interpretations today that are related to Cuneiform in some ways. Cuneiform has especially been influential in the basics of middle-eastern writings, even in present times.

What is the Phoenician Alphabet?

The Phoenician Alphabet is an ancient alphabet developed in the Phoenician Empire around the 11th century BC. It lasted until about the 1st century Ad, but some variants of it lasted until about the 6th century AD.

This alphabet came from the North Semitic alphabet, which is considered the earliest fully developed alphabetic writing system. This alphabet expanded on the North Semitic alphabet.

This alphabet had 22 letters, with only cosecants. It also had a number system.

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Its Success

The Phoenician alphabet was highly successful in spreading for a few reasons. Firstly, it was inside of the Phoenician empire, which spread all across the Mediterranean sea. With this expansion the alphabet spread. Also, despite most people now knowing how to write it, the alphabet was much easier to learn and write than the previous cuneiform, and hieroglyphics.
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Its Impact

This alphabet is considered the ancestor of all European alphabets, including the Latin alphabet. This led the way for many language systems to develop and flourish.

It lasted a long period of time, and allowed many to understand their own writing system. Today the Phoenician alphabet is long passed, but it has left us with the languages we use today.


"Phoenician Alphabet." Britannica School. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2015.

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"Phoenician/Canaanite." Omniglot. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2015.