The Cypriot syllabary was used in Cyprus from about 1500 and 300 BC
and is thought to have developed from the Linear A. The earliest known
inscriptions from between 1500 and 1200 BC are in an unknown language
called 'Eteo-Cypriot', or 'True Cypriot', and the script in which they
are written is called Cypro-Minoan.
From around 1200 BC Cyprus began to be colonised by Mycenaean,
Minoan and possibly Cretan Greek settlers, and they probably adapted
the existing script to write their own language - the oldest known
inscription in Greek dates from the 11th century BC. Cypriot Greek
had much in common with Greek dialects of Arcadia and Pamphylia,
which corresponds to the province of Antalya in Turkey.
Most early inscriptions were short texts and dedications on funerary
objects, though some longer texts appeared during the 5th century BC.
Some later inscriptions, particulary those from Paphus and Soli, are
in the Cypriot script and in the Greek alphabet which helped with their
decipherment. As a result of Alexander the Great's programme of
Hellinization the Cypriot script was eventually replaced by the
Greek alphabet during the 4th century BC.
The decipherment was started in 1871 by George Smith, who was later
assisted by S. Birth, and was initially based on a bilingual Phoenician-Cypriot
text on a bronze tablet from Idalium and dating from 480-470 BC. Other
scholars, including Brandis, M. Schmidt, Deecke and Siegismund also worked
on the decipherment, which was complete by 1876.
- Type of writing system: syllabary
- Direction of writing: normally written from right to left in horizontal lines.
- Used to write: Cypriot dialect of Greek and other undeciphered languages
- Word breaks were not indicated.
Information about the Cypriot syllabary
Palaeolexicon - a word study tool for ancient languages, including Cypriot
ALPHABETUM - a Unicode font
specifically designed for ancient scripts, including classical
& medieval Latin, ancient Greek, Etruscan, Oscan, Umbrian,
Faliscan, Messapic, Picene, Iberian, Celtiberian, Gothic, Runic,
Old & Middle English, Hebrew, Sanskrit, Old Nordic, Ogham,
Kharosthi, Glagolitic, Old Cyrillic, Phoenician, Avestan, Ugaritic,
Linear B, Anatolian scripts, Coptic, Cypriot, Brahmi, Old Persian cuneiform:
Caroline Island Script,