Oldest Canaanite inscription found on ridge from Israel

(ORDO NEWS) — Israeli and American archaeologists have so far deciphered the oldest inscription in ancient Canaanite, which was inscribed on an ivory comb found five years ago during excavations in the biblical city of Lachish.

This was announced on Wednesday by the press service of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

“This is the first example of Canaanite writing found in Israel. This crest is evidence that the Canaanites used the alphabet in everyday life about 3.7 thousand years ago.

This is an epoch-making discovery related to the history of the development of human writing,” said a professor at the Hebrew University Jerusalem (Israel) Yosef Garfinkel, whose words are quoted by the press service of the university.

Canaan is a historical region of the Middle East, on the territory of which Phenicia and its neighboring small states and policies were located in the past.

Various peoples of West Semitic origin lived on its territory, many of which were subjugated by the Jewish armies at the end of the second millennium BC after the retreat of the Egyptians and Hittites from the region.

The Phoenicians and other representatives of the Canaanite peoples, according to many historians, played a key role in the formation of all modern alphabets, an innovative method of recording information in comparison with the Sumerian-Akkadian cuneiform and ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.

At the same time, the history of the appearance and evolution of the alphabet remains a subject of controversy among scientists due to the lack of written monuments that unambiguously refer to the early eras of the existence of Canaan.

The oldest alphabet in the world

Professor Garfinkel and his colleagues have taken a big step towards solving this mystery during the analysis of artifacts found during recent excavations in the territory of the biblical city of Lachish.

It was one of the largest settlements of Canaan, mentioned in ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian chronicles from the middle of the second millennium BC.

In the past, as scientists note, archaeologists have already found artifacts in Lachish with symbols similar to individual letters from the ancient Canaanite alphabet, including a fragment of a ceramic bowl about 3.45 thousand years old.

Such finds constantly encourage archaeologists to continue excavations on the territory of this ancient city.

Five years ago, Israeli researchers discovered during regular excavations on the territory of the ruins of Lachish a well-preserved ivory comb, on the surface of which there was a set of barely noticeable 17 characters.

Their archaeologists noticed last year. Professor Garfinkel and his colleagues studied these letters in detail and compared them with other known fragments of Canaanite words. This allowed scientists to decipher the full inscription in this ancient language for the first time.

As it turned out, on the surface of the comb there was an inscription “let this tusk help drive all the lice out of the hair and beard.”

Her reading pushed back the appearance of the alphabet by about 3.7 thousand years in the past, and also revealed the fact of its use not only in the state and religious, but also in the daily life of the Canaanite peoples, archaeologists summed up.


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