Why does the archaeologic community say that the Greek alphabet is Phoenician?

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diegosimeone

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Title says it all. Linguists are also part of the archaeologic community in this case ;)

Phoenician alphabet is dated at around 1200BC. We've found ancient tablets in Greece, dated in the 6th millenium, where most Greek letters are clearly shown. Letters such as Α, Υ, Ο, Π, Ν, Μ, Δ, Ε, W, F, Κ, Λ... But for some "odd" reason, they are not willing to publish these things. Instead they want to talk about how the Greeks did not have an alphabet until the 8th century BCE and copied the Phoenician one. Which wasn't even used as an alphabet, had different pronounciations and was actually a syllabary. Let's not ignore the fact that there's nothing we know of that was written in the Phoenician language.

This is a small part of a 5500BCE tablet found in the Sporades islands of the Aegean: Youra_Potsherd.jpg It's somewhere in Greece at the moment, but nobody really knows where. And it's never been on display. It was found in the early 90s. The letters Α, Υ, Ο and Λ are clearly marked. There are considered to be Phoenician letters: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/24/Phoenician_alphabet.svg


Linear B is universally accepted to be a form of Greek alphabet. %u0025CE%A3%CF%85%CE%BB%CE%BB%CE%B1%CE%B2%CE%BF%CE%B3%CF%81%CE%AC%CE%BC%CE%BC%CE%B1%CF%84%CE%B1.gif. While it's also a syllabary, it predates the Phoenician alphabet by a few centuries and shares a lot of the symbols. Symbols such as Δ, Μ, Ι, Τ, Ξ, that O with the cross in the middle, Υ, the inverse F symbol, Φ, M, N and a few others. Pretty much the majority of what is accepted as the Phoenician alphabet.

Then we have Linear A, which is an older Greek alphabet - this really cannot be denied but they're conveniently "neutral" until someone manages to decipher it properly, the symbols are pretty much the same. 80% of Linear A and Linear B's symbols are shared. The location of these alphabets varies though. Linear A was founded in Crete, while Linear B was founded in the Peloponnese. At least that's what these 'scholars' say. There's also the question of the Eteocypriot and Eteocretan alphabets, which also share a lot in common. Eteyocypriot is very close to Linear A and Linear B too. None are classified as Greek though.

Then we have the Latin alphabet, which is derived from the Euboean/Chalcidean/Cumaean alphabet.. So far so good. But the "scholars" will then tell you that the Cumaean alphabet has derived from the Phoenician alphabet as well and that it was the Etruscans who taught it to the people of Latium!!! Ignoring the fact that it's called Cumaean because it was the alphabet of Greek colonists in Cumae and most of Magna Grecia, who were neighbours of the Romans. For some reason, the Etruscans have to enter the picture. And the Etruscans, like the Phoenicians, are tribes we know almost nothing about. We know that they were great scholars and teachers to the Greeks and Romans, but we don't know any of their work and we don't even know if they are the same people as the Tyrrhenians... :rolleyes: In fact, the Etruscan alphabet also derived from the Euboean alphabet and it gave birth to the "Old Italic" alphabets in general. So, we get this confusion: That the Greek colonists have gotten their alphabet from the Phoenicians, passed it on to the people of Italy (minus the Romans) and then the Etruscans gave it to the Romans. Ignoring that the Greek colonists bordered with Rome but not with the Etruscans who were further up north :rofl: The Romans were invisible to the Euboean colonists I guess... What makes things even more laughable is that Etruscan is categorized as "non-Indo European" while everything else is considered "Indo European".

Obviously several alphabets must have existed within the Greek populations of antiquity, but there's a documented continuity of the current alphabet from at least the 6th millenium BC. But some "experts" are trying to (and have managed to) convince people that the Greeks got their letters 4700 years later from the Phoenicians... Something doesn't add up. [To usual suspects: Please keep your general hate away from this thread and waste your time elsewhere :unsure:]
 

Yakman

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can't quite remember the name of the book - read most of it freshman year, title started with "black" - but it made a pretty convincing point that greek culture owes a ton to the phoenicians.
 

diegosimeone

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can't quite remember the name of the book - read most of it freshman year, title started with "black" - but it made a pretty convincing point that greek culture owes a ton to the phoenicians.

Black Athena?

Can a mod stop the useless trolling by the poster above please?
 

Yakman

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Black Athena?

Can a mod stop the useless trolling by the poster above please?
yes, that was it.

i'll ignore the trolling comment b/c it's pretty ridiculous.

the author made some rather convincing points. heck, if you take the greek myths at face value, the founding of greece came from asia.
 

diegosimeone

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yes, that was it.

i'll ignore the trolling comment b/c it's pretty ridiculous.

the author made some rather convincing points. heck, if you take the greek myths at face value, the founding of greece came from asia.

I haven't read it but I've seen some parts of it. I'm not gonna come and say that it's 100% rubbish because it's true that Greeks and Egyptians had close ties in the past, but we're in a situation where we can't say who influenced whom and how due to a lack of sources. We know, from Plato, that Athens is older than some (or all, don't remember it exactly) of the greatest Egyptian cities and that there was some sort of alliance in the past. Most things were similar. The problem is that Phoenicians are non-existent in history and they get credit for many things. Including this one. When archaeologists openly admit that the Greek alphabet is at least 7000 years old, it automatically takes Greece, as a culture, officially much earlier than the Egyptians. Which means that theories such as that one will be viewed with even more skepticism. The evidence is there. And there's a lack of evidence for pretty much anything the Phoenicians have done before Carthage.

You may also want to read Black Athena Revisited, which is a response by 12 academics or something like that, to that book. Haven't read that either though.

(The trolling comment was not directed at you of course)
 

Yakman

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I haven't read it but I've seen some parts of it. I'm not gonna come and say that it's 100% rubbish because it's true that Greeks and Egyptians had close ties in the past, but we're in a situation where we can't say who influenced whom and how due to a lack of sources. We know, from Plato, that Athens is older than some (or all, don't remember it exactly) of the greatest Egyptian cities and that there was some sort of alliance in the past. Most things were similar. The problem is that Phoenicians are non-existent in history and they get credit for many things. Including this one. When archaeologists openly admit that the Greek alphabet is at least 7000 years old, it automatically takes Greece, as a culture, officially much earlier than the Egyptians. Which means that theories such as that one will be viewed with even more skepticism. The evidence is there. And there's a lack of evidence for pretty much anything the Phoenicians have done before Carthage.

(The trolling comment was not directed at you of course)
pardon, but Plato didn't know anything about dating stuff.

he said that Athens fought a war against Atlantis, so I'll put his history in the "questionable" category.

what we do know is that the Phoenicians came up with an alphabet before anyone else. we know that the greeks had extensive trade with the Phoenicians early on. Greek myths admit, openly, that they were founded by Phoenicians. Europa, Cadmus, etc.

This doesn't demean the achievements of the Greeks, but it does make a lot more sense than the autocthonous genius that some have ascribed them.
 

diegosimeone

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what we do know is that the Phoenicians came up with an alphabet before anyone else.

No, we don't. We know that there are 7000 years old tablets found in Greece that have most of the letters of the Greek alphabet. Phoenicians did not exist back then. So no, we don't know that. We know that it's not true though.


we know that the greeks had extensive trade with the Phoenicians early on. Greek myths admit, openly, that they were founded by Phoenicians. Europa, Cadmus, etc.

Ermm, while we do know that Greeks and Phoenicians had extensive trade, the same applies with everyone else. Phoenicians btw came from Bahrain and settled in the eastern Mediterranean around the time of the Sea Peoples. The 'sea peoples' could have been them as well but the only objection I have is that there's no record to suggest that the Sea Peoples came from the Nile. Also, their most important cities in the Mediteranean were settled by people thousands of years before the Phoenicians arrived. Probably Egyptian or just indigenous people.

Europa and Cadmus, what about them? What this shows is connection between the Greek world and the Egyptian world. Nothing much about the Phoenicians doing anything other than being an offspring of this 'mix'.
Cadmus, brother of Phoenix. Europa daughter of Phoenix. Phoenix, son of Aginoras, who was the son of Libya. The term Phoenix is Greek and it means purple anyway, the Phoenicians themselves probably were called Canaanites. Cilicia(southern Turkey nowadays) and Thasos (island in the Aegean) were also related. Then there's also Epafos, the 'grandad' of Aginoras, who was the founder of many Egyptian cities...
Cadmus is the founder of the Greek town of Thebes. That was also the town that Egyptian refugees from Thebes(Egypt) went and some say that they were the people who found it. So it all leads to Greco-Egyptian relations with the Phoenicians being relatively insignificant, but also related. But you can't cherrypick when you want to talk about how the mythology viewed this ;)


P.S: Plato's Critias clearly says that Athens has been around longer than the major Egyptian cities.
 

Enravota

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No, we don't. We know that there are 7000 years old tablets found in Greece that have geometrical shapes that may or may not be a form of writing.
FTFY. Reasonable alphabets constitute of simple shapes so that it can be easily inscribed. As such there's bound to be an intersection between simple geometrical shapes used before writing (as insignia or just for being visually pleasing) and after. Not every o is a letter. To seriously consider that the o is o and not a random circle, you need to have a reasonable body of artefacts (usually a multitude of tablets and/or inscriptions) not a few scribbles here and there.

P.S: Plato's Critias clearly says that Athens has been around longer than the major Egyptian cities.
There's also a well recorded era of giant roaming the earth, yet zero evidence of that so far.
 

Abdul Goatherd

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Phoenician alphabet is dated at around 1200BC. We've found ancient tablets in Greece, dated in the 6th millenium, where most Greek letters are clearly shown. Letters such as Α, Υ, Ο, Π, Ν, Μ, Δ, Ε, W, F, Κ, Λ... But for some "odd" reason, they are not willing to publish these things.

6th millenium huh? That is, over two thousand years before Sumerian scratchings and Egyptian pictures? Three thousand years before Minoans even saw Greece? Impressive chronology.

Was there anyone even living there at the time? (Outside of aliens, of course).

Instead they want to talk about how the Greeks did not have an alphabet until the 8th century BCE and copied the Phoenician one. Which wasn't even used as an alphabet, had different pronounciations and was actually a syllabary.

The 8th C. Phoenician alphabet actually was an alphabet - twenty-something letters, all consonants.

Linear B was a 60+ syllabary. But Greeks stopped writing that - or anything at all - for over four centuries, during the dark ages. And then the "alphabet" appeared suddenly ab ovo, well after the Phoenician one. Running assumption is as the Greeks stopped writing altogether, they forgot how to write, and had to re-learn it from an available script.

Archaic Greek took all the Phoenician letters, even their names, but assigned some consonant symbols to vowels and added some new ones of its own.

Pretty standard fare. And unsurprising. Writing goes hand-in-hand with commerce. And Phoenicians led the revival of trade in the Mediterranean after the Dark Ages collapse. Took their alphabet with them. Not sure what you find objectionable.

Linear B is universally accepted to be a form of Greek alphabet. View attachment 116975. While it's also a syllabary, it predates the Phoenician alphabet by a few centuries and shares a lot of the symbols. Symbols such as Δ, Μ, Ι, Τ, Ξ, that O with the cross in the middle, Υ, the inverse F symbol, Φ, M, N and a few others. Pretty much the majority of what is accepted as the Phoenician alphabet.

Then we have Linear A, which is an older Greek alphabet - this really cannot be denied but they're conveniently "neutral" until someone manages to decipher it properly, the symbols are pretty much the same. 80% of Linear A and Linear B's symbols are shared. The location of these alphabets varies though. Linear A was founded in Crete, while Linear B was founded in the Peloponnese. At least that's what these 'scholars' say. There's also the question of the Eteocypriot and Eteocretan alphabets, which also share a lot in common. Eteyocypriot is very close to Linear A and Linear B too. None are classified as Greek though.

All syllabaries are derivative of cuneiform Sumerian syllabaries. They are used to express many languages. The scripts may be similar, but the languages are different. Linear B is Mycenean (proto-Greek) language. Linear A is whatever language the Minoans spoke. Probably has nothing to do with Greek. Indus glyphs are also based on Sumerian script.

Much like Danish, Croatian and Vietnamese happen are written in the same Latin script, I wouldn't expect to find the classified as Latin languages or even have any similarities between them.

Then we have the Latin alphabet, which is derived from the Euboean/Chalcidean/Cumaean alphabet.. So far so good. But the "scholars" will then tell you that the Cumaean alphabet has derived from the Phoenician alphabet as well and that it was the Etruscans who taught it to the people of Latium!!! Ignoring the fact that it's called Cumaean because it was the alphabet of Greek colonists in Cumae and most of Magna Grecia, who were neighbours of the Romans. For some reason, the Etruscans have to enter the picture. And the Etruscans, like the Phoenicians, are tribes we know almost nothing about. We know that they were great scholars and teachers to the Greeks and Romans, but we don't know any of their work and we don't even know if they are the same people as the Tyrrhenians... :rolleyes: In fact, the Etruscan alphabet also derived from the Euboean alphabet and it gave birth to the "Old Italic" alphabets in general. So, we get this confusion: That the Greek colonists have gotten their alphabet from the Phoenicians, passed it on to the people of Italy (minus the Romans) and then the Etruscans gave it to the Romans. Ignoring that the Greek colonists bordered with Rome but not with the Etruscans who were further up north :rofl: The Romans were invisible to the Euboean colonists I guess... What makes things even more laughable is that Etruscan is categorized as "non-Indo European" while everything else is considered "Indo European".

Origins of Etruscans is obscure. But they emerge at around the same time that the Phoenicians arrived in the western Mediterranean. Magna Graecia didn't get started until 750, but evidence of Etruscans is already there by 950s, and certainly well-established by 850. There are a gazillon theories about their ethnic origin, ranging from Canaanite/Phoenicians mixed with Pelasgian mixed with Anatolians migrants from the east. Take your pick. But most probably just indigenous Tuscans who came under heavy foreign influence - Phoenician and Archaic Greek among them.

Yes, they have a Greek-derived alphabet. I think that is generally accepted. Of course, it does mean indirectly Phoenician. But again, that has nothing to do with language itself. Etruscan language is non-Indo-European, whereas Italic languages like Latino-Faliscan and Osco-Umbrian Italic are.

As to "skipping" the Latins in writing, well, go back to commerce. Etruscans sailed and traded throughout west Mediterranean. Latins didn't trade and didn't budge. So had no need for this fancy technology.

You only write if you need to write. And it is distance merchants that need to write - to record contracts, inventory, and debt bills. You'll find that the oldest writing samples in any language tends to be boring mercantile crap like that.
 
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diegosimeone

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FTFY. Reasonable alphabets constitute of simple shapes so that it can be easily inscribed. As such there's bound to be an intersection between simple geometrical shapes used before writing (as insignia or just for being visually pleasing) and after. Not every o is a letter. To seriously consider that the o is o and not a random circle, you need to have a reasonable body of artefacts (usually a multitude of tablets and/or inscriptions) not a few scribbles here and there.


There's also a well recorded era of giant roaming the earth, yet zero evidence of that so far.

I've actually misread that O. It's a Δ but with rather bad "handwriting" :D And below the Λ there's something that looks like an Η without the - in the middle. Could argue that the incomplete Λ sign is some sort of accent. And coincidentally that gives a word in Greek... Meaning voice.

This is from a wooden tablet found in Dispilion of Kastoria. Dated at around 5300BC.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/70/Dispilio_tablet_text.png
This is the tablet:image014.jpg
And this is a reconstruction:
pinakida.jpg

It is considered to be an attempt of an alphabet, like the first attempt of someone to communicate in writing etc.

Also, about the other plate: http://www.hellinon.net/NeesSelides/greek_alphabet_was_in_use_at_600.htm
As usual, they didn't allow the archaeologists to dig further in the cave, so we can't have more evidence out.
 

Enravota

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The O is hypothetical, the point is that simple shapes are used for a reason. If that is supposed to be a learning tablet, there should be scribes around. If there were scribes, they would leave more tablets. If there are no more tablets, no evidence of material culture that needs or can support scribes, it's rather bold to assume it is writing of the bat.
 

Abdul Goatherd

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It is considered to be an attempt of an alphabet, like the first attempt of someone to communicate in writing etc.

I can totally see it.

I can read it even. It says: "Help! Don't know how I got here. Hurry up and invent the boat, you numbskulls. I don't want to wait two thousand years!"

Seriously, timing is completely out-of-whack. I know BC numbers can fuse seamlessly in the mind - 600 to 6000 is just another zero. But 6th millenium for an alphabet? It is thousands of years before anyone even scratched a picture on a tablet, it is long before anyone even had a boat. Or copper tools. There is no Egypt yet. Neolithic Sumerians from the Zagros mountains had just arrived at the Euphrates and were still debating whether to pitch their tents there.

Whatever source said it is 6th millennium, you can safely discard as auroch-manure.
 

Arilou

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All syllabaries are derivative of cuneiform Sumerian syllabaries.

Err, surely not? (there's something like five independent sources of writing isn't there? Mesoamerica, Egypt, Sumeria, Ethiopia (?) and China, with all the others being derived from the above)

Eg. japanese uses syllabaric format (for at least some of the scripts) but it ain't derived from sumerian.
 

Andre Bolkonsky

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So can the OP:

[video=youtube;VL9whwwTK6I]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VL9whwwTK6I[/video]

You would be amazed how often this quote comes up at my house. I have a 10-year old who quotes this conversation of the greek root of Kimono verbattum at the drop of a hat.
 

Eusebio

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Wait. So the Phoenicians got their alphabet from Greece (and not Egyptian hieroglyphs, which is well attested). Then for some reason they decided to take all the letters representing vowel sounds and turn them into constonants.

Makes sense.
 

diegosimeone

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Wait. So the Phoenicians got their alphabet from Greece (and not Egyptian hieroglyphs, which is well attested). Then for some reason they decided to take all the letters representing vowel sounds and turn them into constonants.

Makes sense.

Who said anything about how the Phoenicians came across with their syllabary? The thread is about how the Greeks got it. And Greeks had these symbols/letters 4000 years before the alleged creation of the Phoenician syllabary/alphabet. So the Greeks did not take them from the Phoenicians, that's a fact. Unless you want to assume that Phoenicians, who lived in Bahrain at the time, went to Greece, created these alphabets/symbols/letters in Greece and then rediscovered them several millenia later in Tyre...
Greeks and Egyptians had very close ties and that's a much more complicated issue. But the Phoenicians are nowhere in this equation. When it comes to the alphabet obviously.
 

pirro

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Greek nationalism ftw
 

diegosimeone

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Think about it.

Think about what? How did the people in Greece have these symbols several millenia before the creation of the Phoenician alphabet and several millenia before the Phoenicians even moved to the Mediterranean from their Bahrain area? You are the one who has to think about it really...

Greek nationalism ftw

Nothing nationalistic about logic.
 
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