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date: 07 March 2021

Carian languagelocked

  • Anna Morpurgo Davies

Extract

Direct evidence for the Carian language (see caria) is limited to approximately 30 inscriptions from Caria proper and well above 200 inscriptions (some still unedited) written by Carian speakers in Egypt (from the 7th cent. bce). There are also miscellaneous short texts from other sites and two short texts from Greece (6th and 5th cent. bce). The alphabet, which in Caria shows a great deal of variation, is clearly derived from the Greek alphabet with some additions but a number of letters have different values from those of the equivalent Greek letters. The brilliant decipherment started by the English Egyptologist John Ray in the 1980s and then completed by the Spanish scholar Ignacio Adiego and the German scholar Diether Schürr from the 1990s has shown that all earlier readings (partly based on the assumption that the script was half syllabic, half alphabetic) were misguided. The recent discovery of a short Greek–Carian bilingual from Kaunos (late 4th cent. bce) has confirmed the new values.

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