Alphabet of Ugarit

This clay tablet was discovered at the site of Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra) located along the Syrian coast, 10 km north of Latakia. Ugarit was the capital city of the Empire bearing the same name.

The Ugarit excavations present important collections of cuneiform tablets. These tablets reveal the usage of cuneiform script to write various different languages including Sumerian, Acadian- Babylonian, Hurrian, Cypriote, Aegean and Hittite. Also discovered were Egyptian Hieroglyphic scripts. This wide diversity of languages indicates the richness and notability of Ugarit among the nations of the old world, particularly in terms of communication, commercial interaction and cultural openness. It is evident that the scribes of Ugarit knew of the various people’s scripts and languages and used them in their commercial correspondences.

Yet, the greatest role of this city is the thinking of its people and the development of the first ever phonetically based script. To transcend the accumulation of various languages and the confusion this caused, the people of Ugarit developed their own writing system. They changed the cuneiform script to represent the sounds of their spoken tongue. While previously writing was only for a special class of rulers or priests, the people of Ugarit put into writing their own everyday language, and made the capacity for writing and the preservation of knowledge more widely available. Read more about this object on the UNESCO Museums for Intercultural Dialogue website.

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Capital: Damascus
Region: Arab States

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