HomeAncient HistoryAncient GreeceThe letter of the ancient Greeks

The letter of the ancient Greeks



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From 1900th to 1600th BC pictogram or the hieroglyphic writing was used. Linear A has been used since 1700th to 1400th, and Linear B from 1400th to 1300th BC. (both of them are syllabic or alphabet letter). They were partly decoded by Alice Kober, Michael Ventris and John Chadwick.

The Greeks accepted the letter of the Phoenicians, and it was practiced to the 8th century BC.  Phoenician alphabet had no signs of vocals, so they came up with some letters. That produced the Greek alphabet with 24 letters, from alpha to omega. The Greeks first wrote to the Semitic mode (from right to left). After that, they began to write as Indo-Europeans (from left to right). Old monuments showed that they wrote in turns (on the right and on the left).

Map of Ancient Greek dialects.
Map of Ancient Greek dialects.

The oldest preserved written memorials of Greek alphabetic letters were on vases from the late 8th century BC, found in Attica, on Aegina, Ithaca and Ischia. A few younger inscriptions were found on stone and bronze from Thera, Melos and Crete. The difference was in four main types of ancient Greek alphabet: alphabet of Thera and other islands of the Aegean, Ionian and oriental alphabet, Attic-Cycladic alphabet and Chalcidian or Western alphabet. It was written on the stone, wood, leather, metal and ceramics. In the 7th century BC, Ionians probably started writing on papyrus. Regard on this, literary prose was created.
Greek dialects were divided into 4 groups: the western (Northern and Central Greece, the largest part of the Peloponnese, the southern Aegean Islands), the aeolian (Thessaly, Boeotia, northern Asia Minor), the Attic-Ionic-Athens (Euboea, Cyclades Islands, the coastal part of the middle Asia Minor) and the Arcade-Cypriot (Arcadia and Cyprus).


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