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Old Italic alphabet
The alphabets derive from Euboean Greek Cumaean alphabet, used at Ischia and Cumae in the Bay of Naples in the eighth century BC. Cumaean, in turn showed strong similarities to the Phoenician alphabet, lending support to theories of Phoenician influence in the West Mediterranean region.
Various Indo-European languages belonging to the Italic branch (Faliscan and members of the Sabellian group, including Oscan, Umbrian, and South Picene , and other Indo-European branches such as Venetic and Messapic. Faliscan, Oscan, Umbrian, North Picene , and South Picene all derive from an Etruscan form of the alphabet.
The Etruscan alphabet
It is not clear whether the process of adaptation from the Greek alphabet took place in Italy from the first colony of Greeks, the city of Cumae, or in Greece/Asia Minor. The Etruscan was mostly written from left to right. It was in any case a Western Greek alphabet. In the alphabets of the West, X had the sound value [ks], Psi stood for [k_h]; in Etruscan: X = [s], Psi = [k_j] or [k_X] (Rix 202-209).
An additional sign, 8, was present in both Lydian and Etruscan (Jensen 513). Its origin is disputed; it may be an altered B or H or an ex novo creation (Rix 202). Its sound value was /f/ and it replaced the Etruscan FH.
The Unicode standard includes support for the Etruscan alphabet (your browser may or may not display the characters properly, if at all):
The Oscan alphabet
- Etruscan Texts Project: A searchable online database of Etruscan inscriptions.
- Old Italic Unicode
- The Etruscan alphabet
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