Was there a purpose for the use of West-Semitic in the Amarna Letters from Syria-Palestine?

Luis Robert Siddall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The scholars who first analysed the Armana Letters recognised the significance of the presence of West-Semitic grammatical features. After Bohl (1909), Dhorme (1913-14) and Knudtzon (1915), little progress was made in the way of a systematic analysis of the West-Semitic forms in the Amarna Letters until William L. Moran examined the grammatical system of the Byblian corpus. Moran's work provided the foundation for a number of studies in the nature of West-Semitic languages of the Bronze Age in Syria-Palestine. The emphasis in such studies has always been on examining the linguistic principles of the extant West-Semitic evidence. But such studies, rarely if ever, consider the historical ramifications for the existence of such a linguistically peculiar phenomenon as the Amarna Letters. Only recently has this become a concern for scholars interested in this period of Egyptian and ancient Near Eastern history. Hence, this paper offers an interpretation of the West-Semitic linguistic features in an historical context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-99
Number of pages15
JournalBulletin of the Australian Centre for Egyptology
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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