An alternative hypothesis on the origin of the Greek alphabet

  • Fabrizio A. Pennacchietti University of Turin


Did the Greeks learn the alphabet directly from the Phoenicians or did they learn it from non-Semitic intermediaries? Were these intermediaries the Phrygians or did the Phrygians learn it from the Greeks or some other people? Discussing the form taken by certain Phoenician letters in the Greek and Phrygian alphabets, this article raises the hypothesis that the current forms of these two alphabets emerged for the first time in Cilicia Pedias towards the end of the 9th century BC at the chancery of the Achaean kingdom that had settled there. They were the first “Westerners” to master the Phoenician alphabet. From there, the alphabet, which by then had become consonantal and vocalic, would have spread to Phrygia through Cappadocia, and then to the peoples of the Mediterranean coast of Anatolia through Cilicia Trachea.


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Author Biography

Fabrizio A. Pennacchietti, University of Turin

Fabrizio Angelo Pennacchietti is professor emeritus of the University of Turin and fellow of the Science Academy of Turin (1783). He taught Semitic linguistics at Ca’ Foscari University in Venice and at the University of Turin. He made field research in Türkiye, Malta and Iraq; his fields of research have been Semitic epigraphy, historical and comparative Semitic linguistics, Aramaic dialectology and Middle-Eastern comparative literature.

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