Euboean alphabet

 
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Nestor Cup Cumae Euboean alphabet

The inscription of Nestor’s Cup, found in Ischia; Cumae alphabet, 8th century BC

The Euboean alphabet was a western variant of the early Greek alphabet, used between the 8th to 5th centuries BC. It was used in the island of Euboea (notably the cities of Eretria and Chalkis) and in related colonies in southern Italy, notably in Cumae and in Pithikoussai. It was through this variant that the Greek alphabet was transmitted to Italy, giving rise to the Old Italic alphabets, including Etruscan, and ultimately the Latin alphabet. Some of the distinctive features of the Latin as compared to the standard Greek script are already present in the Euboean model. In Greece, this and other local variants were replaced by the standard Greek alphabet, which is based on eastern Ionic Greek variants, from the 4th century BC.

Letter inventory

300px Ancient Greek epichoric alphabets.svg Euboean alphabet

Distribution of alphabet types after Kirchhoff (1887), “western” type in red.


  Western, Cumae or Euboean alphabet
  Ionic, Attic and Corinthian
  Cretan

The Euboean alphabet belonged to the so-called “western” (or “red”) type of epichoric alphabets, according to the classification by Kirchhoff (1887), insofar as it did not have the standard (eastern) Greek letters Ξ = /ks/, Χ = /kʰ/ and Ψ = /ps/, but instead had Χ = /ks/ and Ψ = /kʰ/. Like most early variants it also lacked Ω, and used Η for the consonant /h/ rather than for the vowel /ɛː/. It also kept the archaic letters digamma (Ϝ) = /w/ and qoppa (Ϙ) = /k/. A third archaic letter, san (Ϻ) = /s/, was not normally used in writing, but apparently still transmitted as part of the alphabet, because it occurs in abecedaria found in Italy and was later adopted by Etruscan. This gives the following letter inventory:

Standard Greek Α Β Γ Δ Ε Ϝ Ζ Η Θ Ι Κ Λ Μ Ν Ξ Ο Π Ϻ Ϙ Ρ Σ Τ Υ Φ Χ Ψ Ω
Euboean Greek 13px Greek Alpha 03.svg Euboean alphabet 13px Greek Beta 13.svg Euboean alphabet 13px Greek Gamma pointed.svg Euboean alphabet 13px Greek Delta 04.svg Euboean alphabet 13px Greek Epsilon archaic.svg Euboean alphabet 13px Greek Digamma oblique.svg Euboean alphabet 13px Greek Zeta archaic.svg Euboean alphabet 13px Greek Eta archaic.svg Euboean alphabet 13px Greek Theta archaic.svg Euboean alphabet 13px Greek Iota normal.svg Euboean alphabet 13px Greek Kappa normal.svg Euboean alphabet 13px Greek Lambda Athenean.svg Euboean alphabet 13px Greek Mu archaic.svg Euboean alphabet 13px Greek Nu archaic.svg Euboean alphabet 13px Greek Omicron normal.svg Euboean alphabet 13px Greek Pi rounded.svg Euboean alphabet 13px Greek San 02.svg Euboean alphabet 13px Greek Koppa normal.svg Euboean alphabet 13px Greek Rho 03.svg Euboean alphabet 13px Greek Sigma Z shaped.svg Euboean alphabet 13px Greek Tau normal.svg Euboean alphabet 13px Greek Upsilon V shaped.svg Euboean alphabet 13px Greek Chi normal.svg Euboean alphabet 13px Greek Phi normal.svg Euboean alphabet 13px Greek Psi straight.svg Euboean alphabet
Latin A B C/G D E F H I K L M N O P Q R S T V X

also shown in the following diagram:

400px Cumea 01 Euboean alphabet

In addition, the Euboean alphabet tended to use certain variant forms of the standard letters, several of which also foreshadow the forms adopted by the Italic scripts. Γ was written like a (rounded or pointed) Latin C. Δ was written with the left edge vertical and the other two sides oblique, like a pointed Latin D. Λ was often written more like a Latin L, with a rightward hook at the bottom. Π was often written with a rounded top, approaching the shape of Latin P (but without the curve touching the vertical stem in the middle). Ρ, in turn, often had a downward tail, resembling Latin R.

300px Masiliana tablet.svg Euboean alphabet

The Marsiliana abecedarium (ca. 700 BC) shows an archaic variant of the Etruscan alphabet practically identical to the Western Greek alphabet, except for the presence of a Ξ or Samek.

Apart from the omission of samek (Ξ) and the addition of ΥΧΦΨ, the alphabet is identical to the Phoenician alphabet.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euboean_alphabet

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