McCarter, Jr., P. Kyle. The Antiquity of the Greek Alphabet and the Early Phoenician Scripts. Harvard Semitic Monographs 9. Missoula: Scholars Press, 1975.

McCarter’s dissertation examines the date at which the Greeks borrowed the Phoenician script following the typological approaches of Albright and Cross. He traces the development of the Phoenician script from the 10th to 8th centuries BCE and makes comparison of the letterforms with the early Greek scripts. Following Carpenter, the point of borrowing is defined as the date of the Phoenician alphabet that most closely resembles the Greek as a whole since letters could not have been borrowed piecemeal. In letterform the first phase of Greek alphabetic writing corresponds to “the Phoenician lapidary hand of the late ninth and early eighth centuries.” However, the Greek letters are rotated differently than their Phoenician counterparts, similar to the old Canaanite graffiti of the 13th and 12th centuries. Naveh also argued that some Proto-Canaanite letterforms are preserved in early-Greek forms, suggesting a date of borrowing closer to 1100 BCE. However, McCarter rejects this hypothesis on the basis that the early Greek alphabets as a whole most closely correspond to the Phoenician scripts of the late 9th and early 8th centuries. The archaisms can be explained by earlier Greek experimentation while rotated stances may reflect early variations in the direction of writing. McCarter therefore partly accepts Naveh’s hypothesis that there was a pre-history of experimentation, but maintains that c800 BCE is the point that the Greek alphabet emerged as an independent tradition.

Explore posts in the same categories: McCarter, Jr, P Kyle, Orthography

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