(Phys.org)—Douglas Petrovich, an archaeologist with Ontario's Wilfrid-Laurier University in Canada has sparked controversy in the ancient history scholarly community by making claims that he has found proof that Hebrew is the world's oldest alphabet. He has been speaking to media outlets in conjunction with the self-publication of a book he has written regarding his findings called simply World's Oldest Alphabet.
In interviews, Petrovich claimed that he has found evidence of Israelites in Egypt who converted 22 hieroglyphics into a Hebrew alphabet more than 3,800 years ago. Not everyone in the scholarly community is convinced, however.
Most scholars of ancient times agree that the world's oldest alphabet was probably Semitic, but they have not been able to come to a consensus regarding which it might be. Petrovich contends that converting hieroglyphics into an alphabet was an attempt by those who spoke Hebrew to find a way to create their own written expressions during the time it is believed Israelites lived in Egypt; he claims it predates any other known written alphabet. He notes that he has been working on his research since 2012. He started by translating Middle Egyptian inscriptions on stone tablets along with inscriptions on other tablets (including Sinai 115) that appeared to be precursors or actual examples of a Hebrew alphabet.
To conduct his translations, Petrovich has combined letters previously identified from some other scholars with some of his own interpretations—a method that may make it difficult for others in the field to accept his findings. Another point of controversy is the source he offers for dating some of his references—the Bible. He further claims that after assembling the early Hebrew alphabet, he was able to use it to translate 16 Hebrew inscriptions that up till now have been indecipherable. He claims he found references to Moses that aligned with biblical references, and Ahisamach and Asenath, two other biblical figures. He also claims to have found the word "Hebrew."
Petrovich acknowledges that there will be skeptics and even suggests that they attempt to prove or disprove his findings in their own way, insisting that if what he has found is correct then eventually others will come to the same conclusion.
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