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Scrittura, documenti e pratiche scrittorie in Arabia meridionale prima dell’Islam

Alessia Prioletta, Seminar about Writing in South Arabia before Islam, Scuola Normale Superiore - Pisa, March, 31th 2014

The Southern Arabian, known in the ancient world as wealthy manufacturers of incense and other aromatic substances, were also skilled manufacturers of monumental works and, above all, of written documents.

Their huge epigraphic corpus, which has more than 11,000 entries, is the largest collection of epigraphic documents of the Semitic world.

These texts, engraved on an extraordinary variety of supports and materials (stone, wood, bronze) are written in four different, but closely related, languages. Those languages represent the major kingdoms of southern Arabia: Saba, Main, Qataban and Hadramawt.

Despite having different languages, the South Arabian employed a single alphabetic writing system, which developed in two different script typologies: the monumental and the minuscule writing. These script typologies evolved independently and were used for different purposes and on different media: the monumental writing, regular, geometric and aesthetically beautiful was used on durable support, intended for display; the minuscule writing, engraved on perishable material such as wooden sticks and stems of palm, had mostly private use.


For further information visit the Scuola Normale Superiore website