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History of the Aleph-Bet

Figure 1. The oldest known example of Aramaic square script, a papyrus deed of 515 B.C.E. Figure 1. The oldest known example of Aramaic square script, a papyrus deed of 515 B.C.E.

Figure 2. The transition to Jewish square script is shown in this document of c. 300 B.C.E. Berlin, Staatliche Museum, Papyrus 10678. Figure 2. The transition to Jewish square script is shown in this document of c. 300 B.C.E. Berlin, Staatliche Museum, Papyrus 10678.

Figure 3. The earliest example of Jewish square script: a passage from I Sam., c. 230 B.C.E. Jerusalem, Israel Museum, IV Q Sam. b. Figure 3. The earliest example of Jewish square script: a passage from I Sam., c. 230 B.C.E. Jerusalem, Israel Museum, IV Q Sam. b.

Figure 4. Square script of the mid-second century B.C.E. in one of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Jerusalem, Israel Museum, Shrine of the Book, Isaiah Scroll A. Figure 4. Square script of the mid-second century B.C.E. in one of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Jerusalem, Israel Museum, Shrine of the Book, Isaiah Scroll A.

Figure 5. Tablet recording reburial of the remains of King Uzziah between first century B.C.E. and first century C.E. Jerusalem, Israel Museum. Figure 5. Tablet recording reburial of the remains of King Uzziah between first century B.C.E. and first century C.E. Jerusalem, Israel Museum.

Figure 6. Evolution of square script illustrated in the final mem. Figure 6. Evolution of square script illustrated in the final mem.

Figure 7. Passage from Exodus in Jewish square script, first half of the second century c.e Jerusalem, Israel Dept. of Antiquities and Museums. Figure 7. Passage from Exodus in Jewish square script, first half of the second century c.e Jerusalem, Israel Dept. of Antiquities and Museums.

Figure 8. Excerpt from Palestinian Targum, c. seventh century C.E. in Jewish square script. Cambridge University Library, T-S. 20. 155. Figure 8. Excerpt from Palestinian Targum, c. seventh century C.E. in Jewish square script. Cambridge University Library, T-S. 20. 155.

Figure 9. Earliest extant example of the fully developed Jewish square script, 896 C.E. Ibid., Fig. 92. Figure 9. Earliest extant example of the fully developed Jewish square script, 896 C.E. Ibid., Fig. 92.

Figure 10. Passage from Deuteronomy in Jewish square script 930 C.E. Leningrad, Public Library, II Firkovitch. Figure 10. Passage from Deuteronomy in Jewish square script 930 C.E. Leningrad, Public Library, II Firkovitch.

Figure 11. Evolution of the letters he and samekh between the sixth century B.C.E. and the seventh century C.E. Figure 11. Evolution of the letters he and samekh between the sixth century B.C.E. and the seventh century C.E.

Figure 12.The oldest datable Bible in Egyptian square script, c. fifth century C.E. London, Egypt Exploration Society, Antinoopolis Fragment No. 47. Figure 12.The oldest datable Bible in Egyptian square script, c. fifth century C.E. London, Egypt Exploration Society, Antino'opolis Fragment No. 47.

Figure 13. Piyyut by Eleazar Kallir in Egyptian square script c. eighth century C.E. Cambridge University Library, T-S. 6. H. 13. Figure 13. Piyyut by Eleazar Kallir in Egyptian square script c. eighth century C.E. Cambridge University Library, T-S. 6. H. 13.

Figure 14. Final development of Egyptian square script: manuscript of Genesis c. tenth century C.E. Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Library, Ms. Heb. 88, fol. 39a. Figure 14. Final development of Egyptian square script: manuscript of Genesis c. tenth century C.E. Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Library, Ms. Heb. 88, fol. 39a.

Figure 15. Babylonian square script used for a halakhic Midrash to Leviticus, c. eighth century C.E. Rome, Vatican Library, Ms. Ebr. 66, fol. 42a. Figure 15. Babylonian square script used for a halakhic Midrash to Leviticus, c. eighth century C.E. Rome, Vatican Library, Ms. Ebr. 66, fol. 42a.

Figure 16. Excerpt from Book of Ezekiel in Babylonian square script, 916 C.E. Leningrad, Public Library, Firkovitch Ms. B.3. Figure 16. Excerpt from Book of Ezekiel in Babylonian square script, 916 C.E. Leningrad, Public Library, Firkovitch Ms. B.3.

Figure 17. Passage from Leviticus in Parsic square script 1571 C.E. New York, Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Ms. Adler 313. Figure 17. Passage from Leviticus in Parsic square script 1571 C.E. New York, Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Ms. Adler 313.

Figure 18. Temanic square script, 11th12th century C.E. A Yemenite manuscript of Numbers with Targum. London, British Museum, Ms. Or. 1407. Figure 18. Temanic square script, 11th–12th century C.E. A Yemenite manuscript of Numbers with Targum. London, British Museum, Ms. Or. 1407.

Figure 19. Passage from Job in Temanic square script, with Arvic translation, 1468. London, British Museum, Ms. Or. 2375, fol. 105a. Figure 19. Passage from Job in Temanic square script, with Arvic translation, 1468. London, British Museum, Ms. Or. 2375, fol. 105a.

Figure 20. Earliest dated Bible manuscript in Maaravic square script, 946 C.E. Figure 20. Earliest dated Bible manuscript in Maaravic square script, 946 C.E.

Figure 21. Fragment of legal deposition in Maaravic square script, 978 C.E. Cambridge University Library, T-S. 12,468. Figure 21. Fragment of legal deposition in Maaravic square script, 978 C.E. Cambridge University Library, T-S. 12,468.

Figure 22. Epitaph in Sephardic square script from Tortosa Cathedral, Spain. Sixth century C.E. Figure 22. Epitaph in Sephardic square script from Tortosa Cathedral, Spain. Sixth century C.E.

Figure 23. Sephardic square script ninthtenth century C.E. Figure 23. Sephardic square script ninth–tenth century C.E.

Figure 24. Passage from Joshua in Sephardic square script, 1207. Paris Bibliothque Nationale, Ms. 2235, Heb. 82, fol. 10. Figure 24. Passage from Joshua in Sephardic square script, 1207. Paris Bibliothèque Nationale, Ms. 2235, Heb. 82, fol. 10.

Figure 25. Epitaph in Yevanic square script, early second century C.E. Turkey, Afyon Museum. Figure 25. Epitaph in Yevanic square script, early second century C.E. Turkey, Afyon Museum.

Figure 26. Yevanic square script in a Hebrew-Greek glossary of the tenth century C.E. Leningrad Public Library, Antonin Evr. III B. Figure 26. Yevanic square script in a Hebrew-Greek glossary of the tenth century C.E. Leningrad Public Library, Antonin Evr. III B.

Figure 27. Epitaph in the Monteverde Catacomb, Rome, in Italkian square script, c. 300 C.E. Figure 27. Epitaph in the Monteverde Catacomb, Rome, in Italkian square script, c. 300 C.E.

Figure 28. The oldest European Ms. in Italkian square script. Bible dated 979 C.E. Rome, Vat. Lib., Ms. Urb. Ebr. 2, fol. 41a. Figure 28. The oldest European Ms. in Italkian square script. Bible dated 979 C.E. Rome, Vat. Lib., Ms. Urb. Ebr. 2, fol. 41a.

Figure 29. Extract from a prayer book in Italkian square script, 1466. London, British Museum, Ms. Harl. 5656, fol. 273a. Figure 29. Extract from a prayer book in Italkian square script, 1466. London, British Museum, Ms. Harl. 5656, fol. 273a.

Figure 30. Early printed Bible in Italian square script, 1482. Figure 30. Early printed Bible in Italian square script, 1482.

Figure 31. A 12th-century Bible Ms. in arphatic square script, London, B.M., Ms. Add. 21161, fol. 6a. Figure 31. A 12th-century Bible Ms. in Ẓarphatic square script, London, B.M., Ms. Add. 21161, fol. 6a.

Figure 32. Epitaph from Mainz, Germany, in Ashkenazic square script, 1082 C.E. Figure 32. Epitaph from Mainz, Germany, in Ashkenazic square script, 1082 C.E.

Figure 33. Extract from Bible of 1236 in Ashkenazic square script. Milan Biblioteca Ambrosiana, B. 30 inf., fol. 96r. Figure 33. Extract from Bible of 1236 in Ashkenazic square script. Milan Biblioteca Ambrosiana, B. 30 inf., fol. 96r.

Figure 34. Extract from the tractate Avot in Ashkenazic square script, 1432. Karlsruhe, Badische Landesbibliothek, Ms. Reuchlin 4, fol. 239r. Figure 34. Extract from the tractate Avot in Ashkenazic square script, 1432. Karlsruhe, Badische Landesbibliothek, Ms. Reuchlin 4, fol. 239r.

Figure 35. Fifteenth-century typeface in Ashkenazic square script. Figure 35. Fifteenth-century typeface in Ashkenazic square script.