Ancient African Writing (Part 2)

Continued from Part 1

“Thinite” (3200-2700 BC):

Pottery Inscriptions

Pottery Inscriptions

Pottery inscriptions found near the legendary city of Tjenu or Thinis in Upper Kemet (located between Abdu and Waset) are strikingly similar to Proto-Saharan writing mentioned above. According to Menetho, Tjenu is said to be home of Menes, who united Lower and Upper Kemet, and established the first unified dynasty.

Tifanagh or “Lybico-Berber” or “Mande” (c. 3000 BC – present):

Ancient Tifinagh Inscription on a rock in Essouk, Mali (c. 200 BC).

Ancient Tifinagh Inscription on a rock in Essouk, Mali (c. 200 BC).

Rock paintings at Oued Mertoutek in southern Algeria show the earliest signs if the so-called “Lybico-Berber” or early Tifinagh writing system and date to 3000 BC. Tifanagh is still used by Amajegh (Tauregs), who mainly inhabit a vast area of West Africa, including present-day Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, Southern Algeria and Southern Libya, are the only known group of Tamazight speakers who have used the Tifanagh script continuously since antiquity (in recent years, however, the larger Tamazight speaking community of the Sahara region have adopted use of the Tifanagh script).

Vai (3000 BC – present):

Vai Engravings on metalwork.

Vai Engravings on metalwork.

Vai is one of the world’s oldest alphabetic scripts in continuous use, with over 150,000 users in present-day Liberia and Sierra Leone. It’s a highly advanced syllabary writing system with over 210 distinct characters representing various consonants and vowel sounds used in the Vai language (a descendant of ancient Mande). Contrary to popular belief, Vai is not a wholly unique script invented circa 1830 by a West African whose friends helped him remember a dream. Evidence of its antiquity comes from inscriptions from Goundaka, Mali that date to 3000 BC, and Vai’s close similarity and relation to the older Proto-Saharan and Tifanagh writing found all over the Saharan region. Vai has also been linked to other writing systems in West Africa that were allegedly invented in the 1800s by people who had similar dreams. Even in the Americas, Vai is similar to scripts that were supposedly invented by Africans who, again, were coincidentally inspired by their dreams (e.g., the so-called Afaka script shares at least 34 of its 56 characters or 61% with those of the Vai script).

Wadi El-Hol or “Proto-Sinaitic” (2000 BC – 1400 BC):

Proto Sinaitic Inscriptions (1500 BC)

Proto Sinaitic Inscriptions (1500 BC)

In 1999, Yale University archaeologists identified an alphabetic script in Wadi El-Hol, a narrow valley between Waset (Thebes) and Abdu (Abydos) in Southern Kemet. Dating to about 1900 BC, it bears resemblance to Medu Neter, but also the much older “Proto-Saharan” writing system. A similar inscription that dates to 1500 BC was found in Serabit el-Khadim on Africa’s Sinai peninsula, and is likely the basis for the so-called “Proto Canaanite” and “Phoenician” scripts (all of which are descendants of “Proto- Saharan”). Most importantly, the find provides proof that Phoenician writing was born in Africa.

Continue to Part 3

By: Ta


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