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South Arabian
Quick Facts
TypeConsonantal Alphabetic
GenealogyProto-Sinaitic
LocationWest Asia > Arabia Peninsula
Time500 BCE to 600 CE
DirectionRight to Left

The South Arabian alphabet was used primarily in the Sabaean and Minaean kingoms in the Southern edge of the Arabian Peninsula. It is thought to have diverged from the Proto-Sinaitic alphabet as early as 1300 BCE, and a developing form appeared in Babylonia and near Elath of the Gulf of Aqaba around the 8th/7th centuries BCE. The South Arabian proper appears around 500 BCE, and continued to be used until around 600 CE (at which time, of course, the entire Arabian Peninsula was converted to Islam and Arabic became the most important language).

There were also contemporary relatives of this alphabet further to the north to write down the Thamudic, Lihyanite, and Safaitic languages.

This script was transported across the Red Sea to Ethiopia, where it transformed into classical Ethiopic (Ge'ez) and modern-day Amharic.

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