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Cypro syllabic inscription.s.VI BC. Cyprus Archaeological Museum. Lefkosia.

Phoenician script.T omb of King Ahiram of Tyre. A semitic Canaanite language it spread north from Lebanon via their vast trade network. The first alphabetic non-cuneiform written language. It is the basis for Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, Etruscan to name a few. It is the basis of our alphabet ..'Alef' - hence alphabet. Before they minted coins, they developed a written language for trade. The 22 letters were set by10 C. BC although it was developing 1000s of years prior.

Lillbjars, Sweden - stone dates back to the 8th Century. The runic inscription on its backside translates as 'venture forth, safe from harm'.

The Pyrgi Gold Tablets show how the Phoenician alphabet and Etruscan alphabet were used in actual practice. These inscriptions date from approximately 500 BC. They were found in a temple near ancient Caere in Italy, and describe a dedication made to the Phoenician goddess.

Hittite silver ceremonial drinking vessel in shape of fist (14th century BC). Along the cuff is inlaid a procession of musicians. On display at MFA, Boston

One of the Nimrud ivories, 9th-7th century BC. Discovered in Nimrud (modern Iraq) and excavated by the British in the 1940s-60s. The British Museum acquired many of the carvings in 2011, when they were exhibited for the first time to the public.

Sabean script in Arsh Bilqis (Yemen). Arsh Bilqis – the Throne of Bilqis – is the second most important temple in Marib. A line of five elegant symmetrical pillars, also known as the Almaqah or Moon Temple, was built towards the end of the eighth century BC.

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