In 2018, archaeologists excavating a Canaanite settlement at Lachish unearthed a 3500-year-old pottery sherd from a decorated Cypriot bowl which was inscribed with characters. In a recent article in the journal Antiquity, researcher Felix Hoflmayer, has analyzed the text and suggests it is the oldest alphabetic script yet discovered in Israel. According to the study, the Lachish ostracon dates to the mid-15th century BC, based on stratigraphy and was discovered in a large building that was once a part of the Late Bronze Age fortifications at Lachish. The words on the ostracon are difficult to decipher as the text is short, incomplete, and the direction in which it should be read is unclear. Still, researchers are hailing the find as an important step in filling in the gap in the history of alphabetic scripts between the earliest inscriptions in the Sinai and the later texts of Canaan. Some of the earliest alphabetic inscriptions come from Serabit el-Khadim, an ancient Egyptian turquoise mine in the southern Sinai, and were likely written by Semitic slaves from Egypt as early as the 19th century BC. ABR Associate, Doug Petrovich, has studied these inscriptions and believes that the language behind the world’s oldest alphabet is Hebrew. (https://biblearchaeology.org/current-events-list/4177-worlds-oldest-alphabet-is-based-on-hebrew-language) The Lachish ostracon will undoubtedly help us understand the development of the earliest alphabet scripts as it undergoes greater study.
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