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Hasai(ti)c

(63 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] early north-Arabic dialect ( Arabic). Its inscriptions, written in a slightly modified ancient south-Arabic  alphabet, are predominantly grave inscriptions, amongst them two Hasaitic-Aramaic  bilingual inscriptions from north-eastern Saudi Arabia ( c. between 5th and 2nd cents. BC).  Ancient south-Arabic;  Semitic languages Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen) Bibliography W. W. Müller, Das Altarab. und das klass. Arabisch, Hasaitisch, in: W.-D. Fischer (ed.), Grundriß der arab. Philol., 1982, 25-26.

Ugaritic

(259 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] Term for a Semitic language, named after Ugarit, an important city and centre of the northern Syrian city state of the same name. The city of Ugarit was only discovered in 1928. Other than in Ugarit, texts written in Ugaritic have been found in Mīnā al-Baiḍā (the port of Ugarit), Ras Ibn Hāni and sporadically in other places, including Cyprus. Ugaritic represents an independent branch of the Semitic language family. Its precise classification is disputed by scholars of the Sem…

Arabic

(361 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] In contrast to  Ancient Southern Arabian, this is in fact Northern Arabic; it belongs to the northern branch of the Semitic languages. (Northern) Arabic personal names are found in Assyrian cuneiform sources from the 9th cent. onwards, with contemporaneous seals and short inscriptions in proto-Arabic script. Diverse early Northern Arabic dialects are written in modified Ancient Southern Arabian scripts (graffiti and tomb monument inscriptions), so  Thamudic (6th cent. BC - 4th cen…

Moabite

(80 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] Language of the inhabitants of Moab, a country to the south of the Dead Sea; it is very similar to Hebrew. Moabite is recorded on seal inscriptions and on a 34-line inscription of King Meša of Moab ( c. 850 BC), which was found in the vicinity of Diban (KAI 181). Canaanite; Semitic languages Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen) Bibliography A. Dearman (ed.), Studies in the Mesha Inscription and Moab, 1989  W.R. Garr, Dialect Geography of Syria-Palestine, 1000-586 BCE, 1985.

Qumran Aramaic

(239 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] QA (= Hasmonaic) is the name given to the Aramaic in which the texts found in Qumran were written (1st cent. BC to 2nd cent. AD), which, however, are not quite uniform in their language. QA has the characteristics of a standardized literary language (which also reappears later in Aramaic Bible translations, such as Targum Onqelos, Targum Jonathan: note the pronouns and infinitives). Yet it also still had linguistic features based on Official Aramaic and also the Aramaic of the Bib…

Aḥiram

(63 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] King of Byblus ( c. 10th cent. BC), Phoenician for ‘my brother is exalted’. His coffin, decorated with reliefs of tribute scenes, commissioned by his son Ittobaal. It is significant from the point of view of art history. The inscription on the coffin lid is early evidence of the Phoenician  alphabet. Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen) Bibliography E. Lipiński, s. v. A., DCPP 11.

Edom­ite

(67 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] Name of the language used by the residents of the country of  Edom ( Idumaea) south-east of the Dead Sea. Linguistically, E. should be placed between  Phoenician and  Hebrew. It is recorded in only a few inscriptions on ostraca and seals (7th/6th cents. BC).  Bersabe;  Canaanite Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen) Bibliography W. R. Garr, Dialect Geography of Syria-Palestine, 1985 L. Herr, The Scripts of Ancient Northwestsemitic Seals, 1978.

Aramaic

(340 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] Derives from the collective ethnic term for the  Arameans and belongs with  Canaanite to the north-western branch of the Semitic languages. For its system of writing, Aramaic adopted the Phoenician 22-character  alphabet. The most ancient form of the language is Old Aramaic (10th-8th cents. BC) found in inscriptions in North Mesopotamia and Syria (Tell Feḫerije [1], Arslantaš, with Aramaic-Assyrian bilingual inscriptions and Aramaic-Assyrian-Luwian hieroglyph trilingual inscriptio…

Phoenician

(204 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] was the language of the Phoenicians, and together with its later divergent form, Punic, it formed a unity within the Canaanite languages. Phoenician diversified into individual dialects which can only partly be classified according to their geographical areas (Byblus, Zincirli, Cyprus). The alphabet of 22 characters developed from proto-Canaanite. Initially, only consonants were written in its script, which deviated slightly from Aramaic. Written Phoenician sources (from the 13th/…

Aḥiqar

(195 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] Aramaic name of the legendary keeper of the seal who served the Assyrian kings  Sanherib and  Asarhaddon (704-669 BC), mentioned in the Apocryphon Tob 1,21 f. (2,10; 11,17; 14,10, Ἀχιάχαρος; Achiácharos). Assyrian sources are not available. A late Babylonian cuneiform script ((2nd cent. BC) calls an Aba-enlil-dari by the Aramaic name of Ahuaqār [1. 215-218]. A. is the lead character of a biographical novel written in Official Aramaic on papyri (5th century BC) from  Elephantine. It contains wisdom sayings wr…

Hebrew

(247 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] The name of the Hebrew language is derived from the nomen gentile, also called ‘Hebrew’. This language belongs to the  Canaanite branch of Semitic languages. The 22 symbols of the epigraphical Old Hebrew alphabet developed from the proto-Canaanite  alphabet. The later Hebrew  square script was used only as a book hand. Hebrew developed over several linguistic stages, of which spoken Classical Hebrew, also defined as Old Hebrew, is preserved in inscriptions (10th-6th cents. BC) on stone, ostr…

Nabataean

(206 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] Aramaic written language of an Arabic-speaking tribe, the Nabataeans (Arabic onomastikon). Nabataean belongs to the west-central branch of Aramaic, and is preserved in memorial, tomb, votive and building inscriptions, graffiti, coin legends and one charm, all dating from the 2nd cent. BC to the 4th cent. AD. Finds have been made at Gaza, Elusa, Mampsis, Nessana, Oboda, Petra, Transjordan with Amman and Gerasa, the Ḥaurān and Boṣra, the Arabian peninsula (Ḥiǧāẓ) with al-Ḥiǧr/Madāi…

Ancient Southern Arabian

(255 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] (ASA) Earlier known as Himyaritic after the tribe of the Ḥimyar ( Homeritae), this belongs with Ethiopian to the southern branch of the Semitic languages, but is not the same as (Northern) Arabian. There is evidence of four main dialects: c. 9th cent. BC to 6th cent. AD: Ḥadramautian, Minaean, Qataban and Sabaean, named after the centres of power of the same names. The dialects are divided into two groups relative to their causative prefix and the pronoun (3rd person sing. masc.): an h- (only Sabaean) and an s- group. There are further differences in terms of lexis …

Canaanite

(95 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] Traditional general term for a dialect group of north-west Semitic, spoken and written in Syria, Palestine and in the Mediterranean ( c. 10th cent. BC to today; with proto-Canaanite precursors). Canaanite includes  Phoenician, the closely related  Ammonite,  Punic as a late further development of Phoenician,  Edomite as a link between Phoenician and  Hebrew (the Canaanite dialect passed down best and longest) and  Moabite, which is close to Hebrew. The existence of additional local dialects is still a matter of contention. Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen) Bi…

Samaritan

(200 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] Special form of Hebrew, in which the Samaritans (Samaria) wrote the Pentateuch and a revised version of the book of Joshua. The Samaritan Pentateuch, which is distinguished from the Masoretic Hebrew text by orthographic variants and religiously based textual changes, was earlier occasionally considered to represent a more original version; yet proto-Samaritan Hebrew text versions have been found in Qumran. The texts from Qumran - which are, with the exception of the Masada Fragmen…

Semites

(187 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] The term S., which was not introduced into scholarship until the 18th cent.,  goes back to Sem, the son of Noah in the 'Table of Nations' (Gn 10,21-31). Noah's sons named therein are regarded today as the eponymous heroes of various Semitic languages. In modern scholarship, the term S. is limited to linguistics; traditionally, scholarship has assumed a group of Semitic languages or a Semito-Hamitic language family (also known as Afro-Asiatic). Due to the unjustified expansion of t…

Syriac

(358 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] Aramaic dialect from the geographical surroundings of Edessa [2], modern Urfa, which gave rise to the later Syriac literary language. Lexically, Syriac belongs to Central Aramaic just as the Aramaic of the Babylonian Targumim (Targum Onqelos and Jonathan), but already has Northeastern Aramaic features in its phonetics, morphology and syntax. The Early Syriac inscriptions (AD 6 - 3rd cent. AD), written in Estrangelā script, still have a strongly standardised Central Aramaic charact…

Punic

(258 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] is the later form of Phoenician found in the Phoenician colonies of North Africa, esp. Carthage, its far-flung trading centres on Malta, Sicily and Sardinia, in Italy, southern France, Spain, and - disseminated by trade - throughout almost the entire Mediterranean region. Initially, P. was indistinguishable in writing from Phoenician, but from approx. the 5th cent. BC, the first variant written forms begin to appear. The Semitic pharyngeal and laryngeal consonants were hardly used…

Am­mon­ite

(76 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] Canaanite dialect very similar to  Phoenician and used by the Ammonites in the region around Rabbath Ammon. There is very little written evidence c. 9th-7th cents. BC): citadel inscriptions from Amman, writing on a receptacle (Tell Siran bottle) and approximately 150 stamping seals. Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen) Bibliography W. R. Garr, Dialect Geography of Syria-Palestina, 1000-586 B.C.E., 1985 L. Herr, The Scripts of Ancient Northwest Semitic Seals, 1978 K. P. Jackson, The Ammonite Language of the Iron Age, 1983.

Afro-Asiatic

(140 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] Afro-Asian is a new linguistic term identical to the traditional term Hamito-Semitic. It covers all the major languages related to such language families as  (Ancient) Egyptian, Berber, Cushitic,  Semitic, Chadic (various subfamilies with more than 125 separate languages) and - often debated - Omotic. Overall, it includes more than 200 separate languages, many of them without writing, that can be traced over a period of almost 5,000 years. Reconstructing the proto-Afro-Asiatic lan…
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