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From Gabii and Gordion to Eretria and Methone: the Rise of the Greek Alphabet

From the book Panhellenes at Methone

  • Richard Janko


The three longest inscriptions from Methone, which all seem to be in Eretrian script, are an important testimony to the diffusion of literacy across the Mediterranean world. They help us to reconstruct the prehistory of the Greek alphabet, which according to internal evidence went through three phases, from the simplest ‘Cretan’ script to Euboean, Roman and ultimately Ionian. Yet the earliest alphabetic inscriptions seem to come from Gabii in Latium and Gordion in Phrygia, a fact which contradicts the internal evidence that Greeks adapted the Phoenician script. Consistency returns only if one accepts a recent proposal to raise the chronology of the Middle and Late Geometric periods. The finds from Methone confirm that Euboean script was already well adapted to the recording of complex texts such as epic poetry.

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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