The Phoenician Alphabet
The first systematic alphabet is credited to the Phoenicians, an ancient civilization who lived mainly in the northern part of Canaan. The term “alphabet" is actually derived from the first two characters of the Phoenician script. The first two syllables come from the first character, “aleph," and the third syllable “beth" is from the second character. When the Greeks based their alphabet on the Phoenician’s existing one, the first two letters have become “alpha" and “beta" and have eventually evolved into what we know now as the alphabet.
It is said that the Phoenicians derived their alphabet from the Mesopotamian cuneiform. By using the cuneiform as their guide, they were able to come up with their own characters.
The Phoenician alphabet is composed of 22 characters, all of which are consonants. Early translators were baffled when they found out that there are no vowels in this particular way of writing but it was then assumed that the characters were formed by how it was spoken, and vowel sounds are automatically part of it.
The Phoenician alphabet is written unlike our current alphabet. The Phoenicians would write from right to left when using it; therefore, it should also be read in the same direction. Aside from that, there are no spaces between words. Everything is inscribed as one long string of words. Eventually, dots were used as separators. These are just some of the things that gave translators some problems in decoding ancient documents.