Cumae alphabet

Cumae alphabet

The Cumae alphabet, was a western variant of the early Greek alphabet, used between the 8th to 5th centuries BC. It was specifically used in Euboea (including the towns of Cumae and Chalkis) and the areas west of Athens, especially in the Greek colonies of southern Italy. It was this variant that gave rise to the Old Italic alphabets, including the Latin alphabet. In Greece it was replaced by the standard Greek alphabet, which is based on eastern Ionic Greek variants from the 4th century BC.

Letter inventory

*shown in the following diagram,:

*expressed in standard (Ionic) Greek letters,:script|Grek|Α Β Γ Δ Ε Ϝ Ζ Η Θ Ι Κ Λ Μ Ν Ο Π Ϻ Ϙ Ρ Σ Τ Υ Φ Χ Ψ "i.e." including digamma (Ϝ), san (Ϻ) and qoppa (Ϙ), but lacking Ξ and Ω. Of these, Δ was written more like Latin D. Σ is actually the Western variant, taken from Phoenician shin, as opposed to Eastern lunate sigma Ϲ. In some variants, Ρ resembled Latin R.

Some letter values were different from those of the Eastern variant: Η was the consonant [h] (as in Old Attic), and Χ was [ks] , the value taken by Eastern Ξ, while Ψ was [kʰ] , the value of Eastern Χ. Apart from the omission of samek (Ξ) and the addition of ΥΧΦΨ, the alphabet is identical to the Phoenician alphabet. Υ and Χ were introduced as variants of waw and samek respectively, so that Φ and Ψ are the only genuinely Greek innovations.


*Helmut Engelmann. "Die Inschriften von Kyme" (="Inschriften griechischer Städte aus Kleinasien" 5). Bonn, 1976. ISBN 3-7749-1418-4

ee also

*Alphabets of Asia Minor
*History of the Greek alphabet
*Nestor's Cup
*Old Italic alphabet

External links

* [ - Greek]
* [ BBC - The Development of the Western Alphabet]

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