Tuesday, October 15, 2013

20. South Arabian


The South Arabian alphabet is thought to have developed from the Proto-Sinaitic alphabet in about the 9th century BC. It is known from inscriptions found in Eritrea, Babylonia and Yemen dating from between 9th century BC and 7th century AD, and was used to write Sabaean, Qatabanian, Hadramautic, Minaean, Himyarite and proto-Ge'ez, extinct Semitic languages once spoken in southern parts of the Arabian peninsula. It is also known as the Old Yemeni alphabet or المُسند (musnad).
The South Arabian was used for monunmental inscriptions, and was also carved into wooden sticks, which were used as everyday documents.

Notable features

  • Type of writing system: abjad / consonant alphabet
  • Direction of writing: usually right to left in horizontal lines, and sometimes left to right
  • Used to write: Sabaean, Qatabanian, Hadramautic, Minaean, Himyarite and proto-Ge'ez
  • Words were separated with a vertical bar (|)

South Arabian alphabet

South Arabian alphabet
The top row of letters are written in monumental style, while the bottom row of letters are in cursive style.

Sample text

Sample text in the South Arabian alphabet
Source: http://www.barnard.nl/yemen/mb88.html


Information about the South Arabian alphabet
Written in Stone: Inscriptions from the National Museum of Saudi Arabia
Corpus of South Arabian Inscriptions
Ancient South Arabian Inscriptions in Baynun (Yemen)


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