The Impact of ductus on script form and development in monumental Northwest Semitic inscriptions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While much ink has been spilled on what monumental stone alphabetic inscriptions themselves say and how the various alphabetic scripts look, there is a near absence of studies on why the scripts look a certain way. Paleographers have generally simply asserted that script variation and development is diachronic and regional. While this is true to a certain degree, it is hardly unequivocal. Moreover, the actual impetus for script development is left to theorizing. With this article, I will show that by studying inscriptions as artifacts themselves and carefully investigating the technology and ductus behind their production it is possible to arrive at a more nuanced understanding of alphabetic script development and variation. I will further demonstrate a link between that technology and the individual agency of the masons themselves, a wholly new aspect in the investigation of ancient Near Eastern monumental inscriptions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-212
Number of pages24
JournalUgarit-Forschungen : internationales Jahrbuch für die Altertumskunde Syrien-Palästinas
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Northwest Semitic
  • Inscriptions, Ancient Near Eastern
  • ancient technology
  • scribalism
  • Stone Artefacts
  • ancient Near East history

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