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In the path of the alphabet

Frances Jermain

Book Overview: 

Language: we all use it and few of us think about the form it takes on the page. But how did the transmittal of ideas in written form evolve from Egyptian hieroglyphics to the ABCs in use in most countries around the world today? This work, written by a librarian and scholar, draws on previously published works and also direct correspondence with archaeologists still uncovering secrets in Egypt and Mesopotamia. Her death left this work unfinished, but others were able to polish it for publication.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . . [21] CHAPTER II.

THE other event referred to, which was to open to scholars another field of research, in interest and importance equal to the Egyptian discoveries, was the work of Grotefend, early in the century, in the decipherment of cuneiform inscriptions.

In many parts of Persia, there are to be found engraved upon the native rocks, or upon ruined temples, inscriptions in peculiar characters. These characters are called cuneiform, because they are made up from combinations of a single sign resembling the head of an arrow or a thin wedge. This sign was formed in three ways, either horizontal, ; vertical, ; or angular, . From these primary signs, a great variety of combinations appear, either in groups or forming single characters.

In the latter part of the eighteenth century, fragments of these inscriptions, and copies of others, had found their way to Europe and into . . . Read More