The Early Greek Alphabets: Origin, Diffusion, Uses
Product details:

No. of pages:370 pages
Size:240x162x25 mm
Weight:698 g
Illustrations: 49 black-and-white illustrations

The Early Greek Alphabets

Origin, Diffusion, Uses
Publisher: OUP Oxford
Date of Publication:
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Short description:

The Early Greek Alphabets brings a range of perspectives to bear in revisiting the legacy of Anne Jeffrey's work on archaic Greek scripts. The research extends the scope of Jeffrey's research, by considering the fortunes of the Greek alphabet in Etruria, in southern Italy, and on coins.

Long description:
The birth of the Greek alphabet marked a new horizon in the history of writing, as the vowelless Phoenician alphabet was borrowed and adapted to write vowels as well as consonants. Rather than creating a single unchanging new tradition, however, its earliest attestations show a very great degree of diversity, as areas of the Greek-speaking world established their own regional variants. This volume asks how, when, where, by whom and for what purposes Greek alphabetic writing developed.

Anne Jeffery's Local Scripts of Archaic Greece (1961), re-issued with a valuable supplement in 1990, was an epoch-making contribution to the study of these issues. But much important new evidence has emerged even since 1987, and debate has continued energetically about all the central issues raised by Jeffery's book: the date at which the Phoenician script was taken over and adapted to write vowels with separate signs; the priority of Phrygia or Greece in that process; the question whether the adaptation happened once, and the resulting alphabet then spread outwards, or whether similar adaptations occurred independently in several paces; if the adaptation was a single event, the region where it occurred, and the explanation for the many divergences in local script; what the scripts tell us about the regional divisions of archaic Greece. There has also been a flourishing debate about the development and functions of literacy in archaic Greece. The contributors to this volume bring a range of perspectives to bear in revisiting Jeffery's legacy, including chapters which extend the scope beyond Jeffery, by considering the fortunes of the Greek alphabet in Etruria, in southern Italy, and on coins.

It presents, through a balanced structure, the theoretical approaches to the origin of writing, its diffusion and use, while raising all the relevant questions and tapping into the long tradition of scholarship on the subject.
Table of Contents:
Part I. Origins
The Genesis of the Local Alphabets of Archaic Greece
Sounds, Signs, and Boundaries
Writing and Pre-Writing at Methone and Eretria
Contextualizing the Origin of the Greek Alphabet
Part II. Alphabet and Language
Dodona and the Concept of Local Scripts
The Pronunciation of Upsilon and Related Matters: A U-Turn
Letter Forms and Distinctive Spellings: Date and Context of the New Festival Calendar from Arkadia
Part III. Themes and Regions
Local Scripts on Archaic Coins: Distribution and Function
Regions within Regions: Patterns of Epigraphic Habits within Archaic Crete
New Archaic Inscriptions: Attica, the Attic-Ionic Islands of the Cyclades, and the Dorian islands
Boeotian Inscriptions in Epichoric Script: A Conspectus
Etruria between the Iron Age and Orientalizing Period and the Adoption of Alphabetic Writing
The Greek Alphabet in South-East Italy: The Culture of Writing Between Greeks and Non-Greeks