Like some other alphabetic symbols it was not borrowed by Greek in its original form.
When more is known of the earliest Etruscan inscriptions it may become possible to date the Iguvine Tables by their alphabetic peculiarities as compared with their mother-alphabet, the Etruscan.
Some, however, see in it a corruption of the Semitic name samekh, the letter which corresponds in alphabetic position and in shape to the Greek (x).
His poem is rather lyrical than narrative, which may account for some obscurities in the connexion of thought; but his alphabetic scheme proves that he designed twenty-two stanzas, not sixty-six detached couplets.
The history of some of the alphabetic signs is still very obscure but a sufficient number of them have been explained to make it nearly certain that the values of all were obtained on the same principles.i Some of the ancient words from which the phonetic values were derived probably fell very early into disuse, and may, never be discoverable in the texts that have come down to us.
For some, alphabetic signs more than one likely origin might be found, while for others, again, no clear evidence of origin is yet forthcoming.
The earliest alphabetic document which can be dated with comparative certainty is the famous Moabite stone, which was discovered in 1868, and after a controversy between rival claimants which led to its being broken in pieces by the Arabs, ultimately reached the Louvre, where in a restored form it remains.
The old system of writing now dies out, and it is not till some three centuries later that the new alphabetic forms are introduced from a Semitic source.
Xvii.); though apparently now confined solely to purposes of witchcraft, it perhaps contains survivals of a former extensive system superseded by the alphabetic writing introduced from India.
It is noteworthy that though words were so freely spelled in alphabetic characters, especially in the time of the Old Kingdom, no advance was ever made towards excluding the cumbersome word-signs and biliteral phonograms, which, by a judicious use of determinatives, might well have been rendered quite superfluous.