Coptic & Old Nubian Alphabet

Category: Ancient Learning > Writing Systems

1 Introduction

In the Roman imperial period (specifically, 2nd cent. CE?), the ancient Egyptians (or ‘Copts’) began to write their indigenous language in the Greek alphabet, a convention which Coptic Christians observe to this day for religious purposes, although Coptic died out as a spoken language in the Early Modern period.

Since the Coptic tradition separated from the Greek, and the letter forms consequently diverged, this Greco-Egyptian alphabet is now considered a distinct writing system, the Coptic script. It is made up of all the Greek letters, including two purely numerical ones, plus six Egyptian letters representing sounds that do not occur in classical Greek. These are derived from the indigenous Demotic script (see Ancient Egyptian Writing).

The Coptic alphabet, in turn, was adopted further south to write Nubian, which added three letters from the Meroitic alphabet (which had been primarily used to write the little understood Meroitic language). The Nubian alphabet only fell out of use in the 15th century..

Today, there are efforts to revive both Coptic as a spoken language, and the Old Nubian alphabet as a script for Nobiin (the modern language descended from Old Nubian).


2 The Coptic Alphabet

[Work in Progress]


3 The Old Nubian Alphabet

[Work in Progress]