Punic Script

Punic Script was the script for writing the Punic Language of the Carthaginians, an Afro-Asiatic Semitic dialect derived from Phoenician. It was the abjad alphabet of Hannibal and derived from the Phoenician Script, which all Mediterranean alphabets--Greek, Latin were derived from. The Phoenician script itself was derived from the Proto-Sinaitic and the Proto-Sinaitic from Egyptian Hieroglyphs. Ge'ez the Ethiopian script would be influence from the South Arabian Script derived from the Proto-Sinaitic Script. Tifinagh the Berber script would develop from Punic. About 6,000 inscription exist on the Carthaginian script. They were distributed all over the Western Mediterranean: Malta, Sicily, Carthaginian colonies of North-Africa, Sardinia and Iberian Peninsula with alot of regional variation. When Rome defeated Carthage, she followed a scorch earth policy, wiping out most archives and manuscripts written in Punic.

Being Carthage founded by Phoenicians share much in common with her progenitor. Punic began to be differentiated from Phoenician in dialect and Script around mid 6th century BCE. It became manifest during the fifth and fourth century, based on clear representation on official writings on perishable material, carvings in stone, and documented taxes of Carthage. By the third century BCE other Carthaginian colonies began to adapt the script. Punic was in use up to the 4th century CE. During the latter period, Punic was being used by emperor Septimius Severus and Saint Augustine of Hippo, elite populations.

When Rome defeated Carthage in 146 BCE, Neo-Punic or Late Punic began to be widely used, although formal Punic was still being used and Neo-Punic before the Roman conquest. Neo-Punic was more cursive.

Punic can be differentiated from Phoenician in many ways. One, the tendency for alphabetization, using conventions that indicate vowels. This began to occur in the third century BCE. The use of 'y' indicated final vowels. In the third century CE, final vowels were indicated with an aleph or sometimes an ayin. Consonantal symbols began to indicate vowels for example 'h' for 'e' and for 'a.' In addition, Punic began using the 'f' for the Phoenician 'p.' It eventually became more cursive.