The sun was sinking behind the hills of Tell Duweir, the ancient biblical city a few miles south of Jerusalem, when J. L. Starkey, a scholar attached to the Wellcome Archaeological Research expedition, wandered away from the main group of scientists.
Starkey groped his way through one dark chamber after another, examining the walls. He paused, put his shoulder against a boulder, and attempted to move it.
Suddenly the rock gave way, and revealed the entrance to a smaller chamber. Starkey groped his way through the doorway into the deep shadows. He stumble. over a large object, so decided to leave further investigation until the next day. But he took with him the object, which proved to be a ewer.
HISTORY IN ERROR
That night the scientists discovered that history has been wrong for hundreds of years.
They uncovered definite proof, they announced, that it was not the Phoenicians who invented the alphabet. The Israelites had used the same characters years before. Furthermore, there is a possibility that the ABC’s were originated by Moses. Sir Charles Marston, manufacturer and archaeologist, who is one of the financial backers of the expedition, was elated.
TELLS OF GIFT
“In the opinion of Father Burrows, and other authorities,” Sir Charles said in a special interview, “the script on the ewer found by Starkey was a message indicating that the ewer was a gift or offering to Shur, Mut, and Alat, the three deities whose names are associated together in the same order in the Ras-Shamra tablets. And these Phoenician tablets represent an attempt to reproduce the Hebrew alphabet in the cuneiform script, while this ewer inscription reproduces it in the earlier Sinai script, which was afterwards adopted in Phoenicia.”
EWER LINKS SCRIPT
Sir. Charles, probably the world’s foremost authority on the historic facts of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, explained:
“Our present evidence seems to show that the earliest form of alphabetical writing was found in the peninsula of Sinai at least by the year 1500 B. C. This script consisted of twenty-seven cuneiform characters. The actual Phoenician alphabet apparently came into use during the reign of King Ahiram about 1250 B. C.
“Therefore, the Tell Duweir ewer script is a connecting link between the Sinai script and the script of Ahiram. The allusions to Moses in the Ras-Shamra suggest that the Israelites brought the alphabetical script from the peninsula of Sinai into Canaan, and the Phoenicians discarded cuneiform writing for the more efficient system.”
PICTURES ON WALL
When Starkey led the other members of his party into the hidden chamber they saw that the ewer must have been almost the only object in the room. But there were pictures and script on the walls which proved of importance.
Another party, led by Sir Flinders Petrie, during research at Serabit-el-khadim, in Syria, found evidences of an alphabet which dated much earlier than even the Tell Duweir discovery. The Very Rev. R. Butin has explained that they bear out the recent remarks of Sir Charles Marston, and together they give definite proof of the birth of the ABC’s amongst the Israelites.
25 LETTERS FOUND
“There were twenty-five letters identified in the Syrian ruins,” he said. “Their letter A is an ox, with a crossbar curved to represent horns. And in this early language, ‘maym’ was water. They drew a waving line to represent ripples on water and this came to mean ‘maym’ and later M. B is represented in this script as a square, crude drawing of a house. Today our B is nothing more than two houses.
“The letter R came from the word for head and was usually represented by a profile. And so it was with other letters. Each one represented some everyday object.”
At Tell Duweir, which, it is believed, is built on the site of the biblical city of Lachish, there appears to be proof that Moses either originated the alphabet, or adopted it from Southern Arabia. In either case, he gave it to the world.
One of the problems which historical research must now solve is whether the first six books of the Bible were written originally in the script found on the Tell Duweir ewer. If it is found that it was used in writing the Bible, science will have discovered almost every secret of the origin of the alphabet.