Institut Français d'Archéologie Orientale <al-Qāhira> [Hrsg.]; Mission Archéologique Française <al-Qāhira> [Hrsg.]
Recueil de travaux relatifs à la philologie et à l'archéologie égyptiennes et assyriennes: pour servir de bullletin à la Mission Française du Caire — 23.1901

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https://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/rectrav1901/0157
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THE EGYPTIAN ORIGIN OF THE ALPHABET

151

l'original : Argistis Menuahinis ini asis zaduni = « Argistis de Menuas a élevé cette
maison ». Elle est tout à fait pareille à l'inscription de Ghazandji. Ces deux mots zui
arhuiani qu'on lit sur la copie envoyée par Mgr Sembatiantz n'existent pas sur l'ori-
ginal que j'ai consulté pendant ma mission scientifique. La pierre n'est plus à Chahriar;
elle se trouve aujourd'hui à Etchmiadzine.

THE EGYPTIAN ORIGIN OF THE ALPHABET

AN HISTORIGAL INSTANCE IN SUPPORT OF DE ROUGÉ'S ALPHABETIC PROTOTYPES

BY

M. G. Kyle

Ancient Greek and Latin authors recognized a mysterious haze of tradition con-
cerning the Egyptian origin of the Phœnician alphabet. But, though they neither
resolved its mystery nor penetrated very far into its haze, they seem to have had no
doubt either of its existence or of its genuineness. To them it was as mysterious, but
also as real, as the golden purple haze which ever hangs over their classic shores.
While Eusebius rests the case with the authority of Sanchoniathon, he seems to rely
upon that authority; and Tacitus shows no hésitation when he says : " Primi per
figuras animalium ^Egypti sensus mentis effingebant (ea antiquissima monimenta mé-
morise humanas inpressa saxis cernuntur) et literarum semet inventores perhibent; inde
Phoenicas, quia mari praepollebant, intulisse Grœciœ, gioriamque adeptos, tanquam
repererint quse acceperant. Quippe fama est Cadmum classe Phoenicum vectum rudibus
adhuc Graecorum populis artis eius auctorem fuisse." Later writers have been less cre-
dulous and until the third quarter of the last century had about run its course modem
investigation totally discredited the classical tradition. Gesenius, the Prince of Semitic
scholars of that génération, held the opinion of the classic authors to be erroneous.
The position taken by Renan in 1855 was still firmly held : " L'origine de l'écriture
chez les Sémites, comme chez tous les peuples, se cache dans une profonde nuit. L'al-
phabet sémitique vient-il des hiéroglyphes de l'Égypte ou des caractères cunéiformes
de l'Assyrie? Tient-il des uns et des autres? Sont-ce les Hyksos qui firent passer
l'écriture égyptienne de l'état phonétique à l'état syllabique ou alphabétique? "

This settled condition of opinion up to the year 1874, when the researches of
Emmanuel de Rougé were first published to the world by his son Jacques de Rougé,
is of itself sufficient guarantee of the scientific value of a work which could at once
dislodge that opinion and reinstate the discredited classical tradition. A value and
importance still attested no less, indeed, by the opposition of its enemies than by the
support of its friends. E. de Rougé turned Ewald's shrewd guess : " Sont-ce les Hyksos
qui firent passer l'écriture égyptienne de l'état phonétique à l'état syllabique ou alpha-
bétique? " as Renan puts it, into a potential prophecy of discovery- He cast the
hieratic of the Olcl Empire, the inheritance of the Hyksos, into the alembic and by the
loading ...