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Where did alphabet letters come from?

By |2018-04-13T01:35:55+00:00October 2nd, 2017|Literature, West Asia|

The first alphabet letters: the Canaanite alphabet Early Canaanite alphabet Each of the letters of the early Canaanite alphabet was the first sound of the most ordinary words in their language. The letter was a picture of that word's meaning. Often you can still recognize that picture in our letters today. And the order of [...]

The alphabet replaces cuneiform – West Asian writing

By |2018-04-07T17:04:54+00:00September 15th, 2017|Literature, West Asia|

This inscription from Kandahar, in Afghanistan, has Greek writing at the top, translated into Aramaic at the bottom. The Mauryan Indian king Ashoka put it up about 258 BC. When the Assyrian Empire collapsed in the 600s BC, the short-lived Babylonian Empire also used cuneiform writing. But when the Persians took over West Asia in 539 BC [...]

Where does Hebrew come from? Semitic languages

By |2018-04-07T17:04:54+00:00September 15th, 2017|History, West Asia|

Early alphabets and Hebrew Some time possibly around 4000 BC, as West Asian people settled down in towns and villages, each group of people began to develop their own special language. This was partly because the people of each region spoke to each other more often than they spoke to strangers, and it was partly a way [...]

History of the Alphabet – West Asia

By |2018-12-08T07:56:03+00:00September 14th, 2017|Literature, West Asia|

Egyptian temple to Hathor at Serabit in the Sinai Early Writing Before about 1800 BC, all people in the world wrote using pictures that each stood for a word or a syllable. In Egypt, these were called hieroglyphs, and in West Asia, they were called cuneiform. Egyptian hieroglyphs Mesopotamian cuneiform Writing in China Maya hieroglyphs More [...]

What is the Talmud? History of Judaism

By |2018-04-08T01:10:59+00:00August 25th, 2017|Religion, West Asia|

The Mishnah is at the top center, the Gemara is in the center of the page, Rashi is on the right, and other later commentators are on the left and bottom. About 200 AD, rabbis from all over West Asia, some living under Roman rule and some under Sassanian rule, began to write down their discussions of how [...]

What’s a synagogue? History of Judaism

By |2017-08-25T12:00:25+00:00August 25th, 2017|Religion, West Asia|

The remains of the Second Temple in Jerusalem Synagogue in Greek means a place for coming together, a meeting place, and that is what a synagogue (SIN-ah-gog) is. It is a building where Jews come together and pray to their God. In this way it is a lot like a Christian church. The most important difference is that [...]

Dreidel project – Hanukkah games

By |2018-04-09T23:07:29+00:00August 23rd, 2017|Religion, West Asia|

A Hanukkah dreidel Since the 1700s AD, people have often celebrated Hanukkah by playing the dreidel game. The first thing you need to play the dreidel game is a dreidel. It's better to buy a dreidel (DRAY-dell) because if you make your own it's very difficult to get it to play fair: it's always going to land [...]

Medieval School – Europe

By |2018-04-11T09:19:36+00:00August 4th, 2017|Medieval, People|

Clerks in the Manessa Codex (1300 AD) In medieval Europe, even fewer kids went to school than in the Roman Empire. People were poorer, and kids had to work in the fields weeding and harvesting and taking care of pigs and chickens. Most people never learned to read or write. Richer people often home-schooled their children, especially girls and children [...]

Arabic language and literature

By |2018-04-08T01:10:49+00:00July 25th, 2017|Islam, Literature|

Sabataean writing Arabic is in the Semitic language group. Semitic languages seems to have gotten started before the beginning of writing, somewhere near modern Syria. They spread from there through Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan down to the Arabian peninsula. Because the Arabian peninsula was more isolated, people there kept speaking an older version of the language. [...]