Ouder dan je zou denken | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 52, Issue 4
  • ISSN: 0165-8204
  • E-ISSN: 2667-1573



Though it is generally agreed upon that the Greeks borrowed (and modified) the alphabet from the Phoenicians, there is no consensus about the moment when this took place. Over the years, several dates have been proposed, ranging from the 14th to the 8th – 7th century BCE. In classical studies the prevalent opinion is that the alphabet was introduced in or shortly before the 8th century BCE, when the first attestations of Greek alphabetic writing appear. There are, however, quite a number of indications (from existing and new evidence) that plead for a much earlier date. In this article, an analysis of the presently available archaeological, epigraphic and linguistic data will be presented to argue the case for an introduction in the 11th century BCE at the latest. The earliest documents, which were in all likelihood economic and administrative records, have not come down to us, because they were written on perishable materials.


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