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Alphabets of Asia Minor
These numerous alphabets were in wide use in Asia Minor (modern Turkey) and on islands of the Aegean Sea. There must have been about 25 of them at all, but as for inscriptions, we know about 10 basic ones: the Phrygian alphabet (from the 8th to the 3rd century BC in Northwest Asia Minor; Misian (only one inscription was found); Lydian (texts known from 7-4 centuries BC in Lydia, Caria and Egypt); Para-Lydian (one inscription from Sardis); Carian (or more exactly around 10 varieties of the alphabet, as for numerous inscriptions from Caria, Egypt, and Athens); Lycian, and Sidetic. Still, Asia Minor keeps many secrets in its soil, and many other alphabets written in so much ancient languages can be found.

Alphabets of Asia Minor differ from each other both in the number of symbols and in their shape. The sounds for them are also variable. The number of letter in Phrygian makes 20, in Para-Lydian 18, in Sidetic 25, in Carian up to 35.

Scholars were long sure that all the alphabets were modified from the Greek script, with only slight changes. However, the discoveries in Phrygia, when inscriptions in Phrygian was found which were contemporary to the earliest Greek alphabet, show that Asian alphabets were borrowed from West Semitic in the same period as Greeks acquired theirs. So, several Indo-European nations borrowed the alphabet independently at the same time (about the 9th century BC). Phrygian was closer to Phoenician, while other alphabets had their origin from Semitic scripts of Arabia. No signs of influence of older scripts of the region (like Luwian Hieroglyphs) were found.

The alphabets were used in Kingdoms of Lydia, Lycia and all over Asia Minor until the 4th century BC when Anatolia and much of Asia were conquered by Alexander the Great. The fast process of Hellenisation led to the replacement of Asian scripts by the Greek alphabet. The latest inscriptions in Phrygian and Pisidic were written in the 2nd century BC using the ordinary Greek script.

Languages which used the scripts: Anatolian (Lydian, Lycian, Sidetic, Pisidic, Carian), Phrygian.


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