A is for aleph

Take a good look. This looks like an ox’s head, and comes from an Egyptian hieroglyph. This is the aleph, the first symbol of the ancient Phoenician alphabet. The Greeks had no sound for it, so they flipped it around and called it Alpha. That’s our letter A now.

The Phoenicians were responsible for popularizing a brilliant concept- the alphabet.

For a time, hieroglyphics, cuneiform and alphabets were all used together. Hieroglyphs were for display, cuneiform was for bureaucracy, and the alphabet and numbers were for trading.

The Egyptians used hieroglyphics for thousands of years… but if you thought they were dead, well they’re back now 😂😊😉🤔👍🏽👌🏾

But more on writing… literacy and numeracy of the greatest inventions of human history, and we have no idea whose brilliant ideas they were. The oldest verifiable use of number comes from the Sumerians. The oldest known alphabet is the Phoenician one.

People had been speaking and counting for thousands of years before writing and numbers were invented, but only fragments of that past remain.

It still amazes me that the entirety of early cultures (including all of the Vedas) relied on the capacity of humans to remember. Sanskrit, for example, was formalized as a written language much much later. And that is why we have “sruti” and “smriti” to categorize the early Hindu texts… these were books that were heard and remembered though it feels weird to call them “books” after that realization.


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