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Ancient South Arabian script
Sana
Script type
Time period
c. 9th century BCE to 6th century CE
Directionright-to-left script Edit this on Wikidata
LanguagesOld South Arabian, Ge'ez
Related scripts
Parent systems
Egyptian hieroglyphs
Child systems
Ge'ez[1][2]
Sister systems
Phoenician alphabet
ISO 15924
ISO 15924Sarb, 105 Edit this on Wikidata, ​Old South Arabian
Unicode
Unicode alias
Old South Arabian
U+10A60–U+10A7F
 This article contains phonetic transcriptions in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA. For the distinction between [ ], / / and ⟨ ⟩, see IPA § Brackets and transcription delimiters.
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South Arabian inscription addressed to the Sabaean national god Almaqah
South Arabian inscription addressed to the Sabaean national god Almaqah

The Ancient South Arabian script (Old South Arabian 𐩣𐩯𐩬𐩵 ms3nd; modern Arabic: الْمُسْنَد musnad) branched from the Proto-Sinaitic script in about the 9th century BCE. It was used for writing the Old South Arabian languages Sabaic, Qatabanic, Hadramautic, Minaean, and Hasaitic, and the Ethiopic language Ge'ez in Dʿmt. The earliest inscriptions in the script date to the 9th century BCE in Yemen.[3][4][5][6][7] There are no letters for vowels, which are marked by matres lectionis.

Its mature form was reached around 800 BCE, and its use continued until the 6th century CE, including Ancient North Arabian inscriptions in variants of the alphabet, when it was displaced by the Arabic alphabet.[8] In Ethiopia and Eritrea, it evolved later into the Ge'ez script,[1][2] which, with added symbols throughout the centuries, has been used to write Amharic, Tigrinya and Tigre, as well as other languages (including various Semitic, Cushitic, and Nilo-Saharan languages).

Properties

Letters

Sabaean letter examples on page 274 of the book "Illustrirte Geschichte der Schrift" by Carl Faulmann, 1880
Sabaean letter examples on page 274 of the book "Illustrirte Geschichte der Schrift" by Carl Faulmann, 1880
Sabaean letter examples on page 275 of the book "Illustrirte Geschichte der Schrift" by Carl Faulmann, 1880
Sabaean letter examples on page 275 of the book "Illustrirte Geschichte der Schrift" by Carl Faulmann, 1880
Letter Unicode
name[9]
Transcription IPA Corresponding letter in
Image Text Phoenician Ge'ez Hebrew Arabic Syriac
Himjar ha.PNG
𐩠 he h /h/ 𐤄 ה ه ܗ
Himjar lam.PNG
𐩡 lamedh l /l/ 𐤋 ל ܠ
Himjar ha2.PNG
𐩢 heth /ħ/ 𐤇 ח ܚ
Himjar mim.PNG
𐩣 mem m /m/ 𐤌 מ ܡ
Himjar qaf.PNG
𐩤 qoph q /q/ 𐤒 ק ܩ
Himjar wa.PNG
𐩥 waw w /w/ 𐤅 ו ܘ
Himjar shin.PNG
𐩦 shin s² (ś, š) /ɬ/ 𐤔 ש ܫ
Himjar ra.PNG
𐩧 resh r /r/ 𐤓 ר ܪ
Himjar ba.PNG
𐩨 beth b /b/ 𐤁 ב ܒ
Himjar ta2.PNG
𐩩 taw t /t/ 𐤕 ת ܬ
Himjar sin.PNG
𐩪 sat s¹ (š, s) /s/
Himjar kaf.PNG
𐩫 kaph k /k/ 𐤊 כ ܟ
Himjar nun.PNG
𐩬 nun n /n/ 𐤍 נ ܢ
Himjar kha.PNG
𐩭 kheth /x/
Himjar sad.PNG
𐩮 sadhe // 𐤑 צ ص ܨ
Himjar za.PNG
𐩯 samekh s³ (s, ś) // 𐤎 ס س ܤ
Himjar fa.PNG
𐩰 fe f /f/ 𐤐 פ ف ܦ
Himjar alif.PNG
𐩱 alef A /ʔ/ 𐤀 א ܐ
Himjar ajin.PNG
𐩲 ayn A /ʕ/ 𐤏 ע ܥ
Himjar za2.PNG
𐩳 dhadhe /ɬˤ/ ض
Himjar djim.PNG
𐩴 gimel g /ɡ/ 𐤂 ג ܓ
Himjar dal.PNG
𐩵 daleth d /d/ 𐤃 ד ܕ
Himjar ghajn.PNG
𐩶 ghayn ġ /ɣ/ غ
Himjar ta1.PNG
𐩷 teth // 𐤈 ט ܛ
Himjar tha.PNG
𐩸 zayn z /z/ 𐤆 ז ܙ
Himjar dhal.PNG
𐩹 dhaleth /ð/ ذ
Himjar ja.PNG
𐩺 yodh y /j/ 𐤉 י ܝ
Himjar th.PNG
𐩻 thaw /θ/
Himjar dad.PNG
𐩼 theth /θˤ/ ظ
Wikipedia, written with Musnad letters, from right to left on the upper line and from left to right on the bottom one. Notice how the letters are mirrored.
Wikipedia, written with Musnad letters, from right to left on the upper line and from left to right on the bottom one. Notice how the letters are mirrored.

Numbers

Six signs are used for numbers:

1 5 10 50 100 1000
𐩽 𐩭 𐩲 𐩾 𐩣 𐩱

The sign for 50 was evidently created by removing the lower triangle from the sign for 100.[10] The sign for 1 doubles as a word separator. The other four signs double as both letters and numbers. Each of these four signs is the first letter of the name of the corresponding numeral.[10]

An additional sign (𐩿) is used to bracket numbers, setting them apart from surrounding text.[10] For example, ‏𐩿𐩭𐩽𐩽𐩿

These signs are used in an additive system similar to Roman numerals to represent any number (excluding zero). Two examples:

Sample numbers from one to twenty
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
𐩽 𐩽𐩽 𐩽𐩽𐩽 𐩽𐩽𐩽𐩽 𐩭 𐩭𐩽 𐩭𐩽𐩽 𐩭𐩽𐩽𐩽 𐩭𐩽𐩽𐩽𐩽 𐩲
11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
𐩲𐩽 𐩲𐩽𐩽 𐩲𐩽𐩽𐩽 𐩲𐩽𐩽𐩽𐩽 𐩲𐩭 𐩲𐩭𐩽 𐩲𐩭𐩽𐩽 𐩲𐩭𐩽𐩽𐩽 𐩲𐩭𐩽𐩽𐩽𐩽 𐩲𐩲

Thousands are written two different ways:

Perhaps because of ambiguity, numerals, at least in monumental inscriptions, are always clarified with the numbers written out in words.

Zabūr

Zabur inscription
Zabur inscription

Zabūr, also known as "South Arabian minuscules",[11] is the name of the cursive form of the South Arabian script that was used by the Sabaeans in addition to their monumental script, or Musnad.[12]

Zabur was a writing system in ancient Yemen along with Musnad. The difference between the two is that Musnad documented historical events, meanwhile Zabur writings were used for religious scripts or to record daily transactions among ancient Yemenis. Zabur writings could be found in palimpsest form written on papyri or palm-leaf stalks.[13][14]

Unicode

Main article: Old South Arabian (Unicode block)

The South Arabian alphabet was added to the Unicode Standard in October, 2009 with the release of version 5.2.

The Unicode block, called Old South Arabian, is U+10A60–U+10A7F.

Note that U+10A7D OLD SOUTH ARABIAN NUMBER ONE (𐩽) represents both the numeral one and a word divider.[10]

Old South Arabian[1]
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
U+10A6x 𐩠 𐩡 𐩢 𐩣 𐩤 𐩥 𐩦 𐩧 𐩨 𐩩 𐩪 𐩫 𐩬 𐩭 𐩮 𐩯
U+10A7x 𐩰 𐩱 𐩲 𐩳 𐩴 𐩵 𐩶 𐩷 𐩸 𐩹 𐩺 𐩻 𐩼 𐩽 𐩾 𐩿
Notes
1.^ As of Unicode version 14.0

Gallery

See also

References

Citations

  1. ^ a b Daniels, Peter T.; Bright, William, eds. (1996). The World's Writing Systems. Oxford University Press, Inc. pp. 89, 98, 569–570. ISBN 978-0195079937.
  2. ^ a b Gragg, Gene (2004). "Ge'ez (Aksum)". In Woodard, Roger D. (ed.). The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World's Ancient Languages. Cambridge University Press. p. 431. ISBN 0-521-56256-2.
  3. ^ "DASI: Digital Archive for the Study of pre-islamic arabian Inscriptions: Epigraph details". dasi.cnr.it. Retrieved 2022-03-16.
  4. ^ "DASI: Digital Archive for the Study of pre-islamic arabian Inscriptions: Epigraph details". dasi.cnr.it. Retrieved 2022-03-16.
  5. ^ "DASI: Digital Archive for the Study of pre-islamic arabian Inscriptions: Epigraph details". dasi.cnr.it. Retrieved 2022-03-16.
  6. ^ "DASI: Digital Archive for the Study of pre-islamic arabian Inscriptions: Epigraph details". dasi.cnr.it. Retrieved 2022-03-16.
  7. ^ "DASI: Digital Archive for the Study of pre-islamic arabian Inscriptions: Epigraph details". dasi.cnr.it. Retrieved 2022-03-16.
  8. ^ Ibn Durayd, Ta‘līq min amāli ibn durayd, ed. al-Sanūsī, Muṣṭafā, Kuwait 1984, p. 227 (Arabic). The author purports that a poet from the Kinda tribe in Yemen who settled in Dūmat al-Ǧandal during the advent of Islam told of how another member of the Yemenite Kinda tribe who lived in that town taught the Arabic script to the Banū Qurayš in Mecca and that their use of the Arabic script for writing eventually took the place of musnad, or what was then the Sabaean script of the kingdom of Ḥimyar: "You have exchanged the musnad of the sons of Ḥimyar / which the kings of Ḥimyar were wont to write down in books."
  9. ^ "Unicode Character Database: UnicodeData.txt". The Unicode Standard. Retrieved 2017-09-11.
  10. ^ a b c d Maktari, Sultan; Mansour, Kamal (2008-01-28). "L2/08-044: Proposal to encode Old South Arabian Script" (PDF).
  11. ^ Stein 2005.
  12. ^ Ryckmans, Müller & ‛Abdallah 1994, p. 43.
  13. ^ Ryckmans 1993, p. 127.
  14. ^ S. Horovitz, Koranische Untersuchungen, p. 70

References

  • Stein, Peter (2005). "The Ancient South Arabian Minuscule Inscriptions on Wood: A New Genre of Pre-Islamic Epigraphy". Jaarbericht van Het Vooraziatisch-Egyptisch Genootschap "Ex Oriente Lux". 39: 181–199.
  • Stein, Peter (2010). Die altsüdarabischen Minuskelinschriften auf Holzstäbchen aus der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek in München.
  • Beeston, A.F.L. (1962). "Arabian Sibilants". Journal of Semitic Studies. 7 (2): 222–233. doi:10.1093/jss/7.2.222.
  • Francaviglia Romeo, Vincenzo (2012). Il trono della regina di Saba, Artemide, Roma. pp. 149–155.
  • Ryckmans, Jacques (1993). "Inscribed Old South Arabian sticks and palm-leaf stalks: An introduction and a paleographical approach". Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies. 23: 127–140. JSTOR 41223401.
  • Ryckmans, J.; Müller, W. W.; ‛Abdallah, Yu. (1994). Textes du Yémen Antique inscrits sur bois (in French). Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium: Publications de l'Institut Orientaliste de Louvain.