This page is part of the course material for "History of the Alphabets" taught by Prof. Robert Fradkin at University of Maryland.
Questions of an academic or linguistic nature should be e-mailed to
Prof. Fradkin, Dept. of Asian and East European Languages, University of Maryland.
Questions on the animation graphics should be e-mailed to
The authors cannot comment on the religious or mystical nature of alphabets and letters.
Return to Prof. R. Fradkin's
evolution of the Cuneiform character
Sumerian pictures evolved into syllabic symbols used by many
languages for almost two thousand years before the Phoenicians developed
the single-sound symbols we know as an alphabet.
of the Phoenician character set from
the Proto-Sinaitic glyphs.
These are the pictographs found in the Sinai peninsula, ca. 1500 BC and
are assumed to be the source of the sound symbols developed several
centuries later by the Phoenicians.
The evolution of the Greek character set
Phoenician character set.
evolution of the Arabic Character set from
its Phoenician roots.
Not pictured are the developments of Aramaic and Nabatean, which led to the
modern Arabic script.
characters which in Greek rotated 90 degrees or the the
characters that flipped horizontally when the direction of Greek switched
from left to right.
of the Square Aramaic/Hebrew character set
from the Phoenician character set.
evolution of the Modern Cyrillic
character set from the Greek character set.
evolution of the Latin character set.