Johanna DruckerAug 17, 2022
Inventing the Alphabet
The Origins of Letters from Antiquity to the Present
University of Chicago Press 2022
Inventing the Alphabet: The Origins of Letters from Antiquity to the Present (University of Chicago Press, 2022) by Dr. Johanna Drucker provides the first account of two-and-a-half millennia of scholarship on the alphabet. Drawing on decades of research, Dr. Drucker dives into sometimes obscure and esoteric references, dispelling myths and identifying a pantheon of little-known scholars who contributed to our modern understanding of the alphabet, one of the most important inventions in human history.
Beginning with Biblical tales and accounts from antiquity, Dr. Drucker traces the transmission of ancient Greek thinking about the alphabet’s origin and debates about how Moses learned to read. The book moves through the centuries, finishing with contemporary concepts of the letters in alpha-numeric code used for global communication systems. Along the way, we learn about magical and angelic alphabets, antique inscriptions on coins and artifacts, and the comparative tables of scripts that continue through the development of modern fields of archaeology and paleography.
This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.