Writing systems

Examples of writing systems ("alphabets", hieroglyphs etc) from all over the world, visible in inscriptions or manuscripts.

Connected Sites

Site Rationale Link
Ahwar of Southern Iraq the centralized control of resources and surplus which gave rise to the first writing system and administrative archives (nom file). The earliest texts known were found in Uruk.
Aksum Ezana Stone (written in Ge'ez (the ancient Ethiopian language), Sabaean (South Arabian) and Greek)
Ancient Kingdom of Saba The Sabaean people used an ancient Semitic tongue of their own, Sabaean or Himyaritic, which are what Ethiopian is based on. ... They left behind many inscriptions in the monumental ancient South Arabian script or Musnad, as well as numerous documents in the related cursive Zabūr script. (wiki) + "evidenced by numerous historical wall inscriptions" (AB ev)
Ancient Thebes Champollion came here and developed some of the ideas which led to his decipherment of the script
Ashur Source of more than 16000 cuneiform tablets
Birka and Hovgarden Runic script
Bisotun Inscription in Elamite, Babylonian and Old Persian
Byblos Byblos is also directly associated with the history and diffusion of the Phoenician alphabet. (AB ev)
Caral-Supe oldest Quipu
Caves of Yagul and Mitla Yagul: "a few of these bear hieroglyphic inscriptions" (wiki)
Copán Includes hieroglyphic texts
Dholavira: A Harappan City Indus Valley script
Dougga/Thugga Libyan, Punic, Greek, Roman inscriptions at the site led to the decipherment of the Libyan language
El Tajin Various hieroglyphs, such as at the Southern Ballcourt: "Overlooking this scene is the death deity who rises from a vat of liquid, perhaps pulque. The glyphs above the deity identify it with the planet Venus." (wiki)
Hattusha The Hittites used cuneiform letters. Archaeological expeditions have discovered in Hattushash entire sets of royal archives in cuneiform tablets, written either in Akkadian, the diplomatic language of the time, or in the various dialects of the Hittite confederation (wiki)
Hedeby and Danevirke Runic script on the Hedeby stones
Hegra From the Advisory body evaluation "Epigraphic traces of the pre-Nabataean period remain,and consist of some fifty inscriptions in Lihyanite script,which is specific to northern Arabia," and its conclusion "Through its epigraphy, the site bears testimony to the presence of many ancient languages over the course of history: Lihyanite, Talmudic script, Nabataean, Greek and Latin. It is of outstanding interest for the study of the origins and development of later Arabic languages and scripts."
Himā Cultural area The inscriptions are an invaluable source of epigraphic understanding concerning the development of alphabetic writing. (nom file p.12)
Jelling Runic script
Meroe Meroe script
Moenjodaro Indus Valley scriptures (one of the oldest in the world)
Mtskheta "Of special significance are early inscriptions, which form a valuable reference in the study of the origins of the early Georgian alphabet."
Neolithic Orkney Maes Howe - one of the largest, and most famous, collections of runes known in Europe.
Oaxaca and Monte Alban Montealban - Zapotec Hieroglyphs
Ohrid Region Slavic writing culture (and early Cyrillic alphabet)
Old Town of Lijiang Naxi script (pictograms)
Orkhon Valley Early 8th-century Turkic memorials to Bilge Khan and Kul Tigin with their Orkhon inscriptions are admittedly the most impressive monuments from the nomadic Göktürk Empire.
Palenque Temple of Inscriptions
Petroglyphs of the Mongolian Altai Turkic Period (7th-9th c. CE): "To this period, also, belong a number of runic inscriptions." (AB ev)
Quirigua Contains Maya glyphs
Rapa Nui Rongorongo script
Rock Art in the Hail Region The introduction of Thamudic writing, probably about 3000 years ago, is documented in thousands of inscriptions (AB ev)
Sigiriya Sigiriya Graffiti, early Sinhala writing system
Southern Öland Runic Script "Prominent among the 20 or more runestones of Southern Öland is the Karlevi stone, with a unique skalde poem in the dróttkvaett verse foot, commemorating a man called “Sibbe the wise”. - nomination file
Sukhothai King Ramkamhang's Inscription - Early Thai Alphabets
Tassili n'Ajjer There are Libyc and Tifinagh inscriptions (ancient and recent Tuareg/Berber script). Tifinagh, which often accompanies images, is a later Lybico-Berber script still used by modern Tuareg.
Tikal National Park Several hieroglyphic inscriptions
Wadi Rum extensive corpus of pre-Arabic scripts (AB ev)
Xanthos-Letoon many texts in Lycian and Greek, including several bilingual texts that are useful in the decipherment of Lycian
Yin Xu Oracle bone script, "the oldest member and ancestor of the Chinese family of scripts" (wiki)


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