Whether you text, type, scrawl chicken scratch onto a doctor’s pad, or inscribe calligraphy in your bullet journal, everyone who shares a language uses the same alphabet. But where does it come from? And who invented it? Even as our own alphabet changes and we devolve into the pictorial non-syllabic communication of emojis, tracing the history of writing is its own form of investigative journey.
And now archaeologists have found another piece of the puzzle: excavations in Israel have unearthed a 3,200-year-old Canaanite temple that once served the city of Lachish, the last Canaanite city. The discovery promises to shed light on the political and religious relationship between the Canaanites and Egyptians, ancient Canaanite religion and deities, and even the Israelite conquest. But among the most important discoveries at the site was the earliest example of the proto-Canaanite letter “samekh” a letter that would survive in Hebrew and Aramaic, find its way into ancient Greek, and enjoy an afterlife in 21st century technology.