Greek letters, the earliest known in the history of civilization, were once written with their own unique code, researchers say.
The ancient Greeks, who were in contact with the people of the Middle East and northern Africa around 100 B.C., wrote their own language, called hieroglyphic script, or hieratic, in the first centuries B.E. They used the script to write, read and write about the things they saw and the places they lived.
In their code, they used characters to represent different things, from numbers to numbers and letters to letters.
Hieroglyphics were also a form of script that included symbols that could be combined to form words.
Ancient Greek letters had different shapes, and many were filled with symbols, but the letters that make up Greek letters have one thing in common: They are the same everywhere, researchers said.
Researchers in France and Germany say their research suggests that the code may have been used for many different purposes.
For example, they said the code could have been a tool for conveying information about food, weather and health.
The code could also have been to make sure that crops were grown in good order, or to indicate where people lived.
And in the second century B. “it could have served to record the names of individuals,” said Professor Joachim Fichter, a linguist at the University of Tübingen in Germany who was not involved in the research.
The findings are published in the journal Antiquity.
It is the first evidence that a group of people with a common ancestor did write their own scripts, he said.
Fichter was not part of the study but said that hieroglypsia could have had more than one meaning.
The researchers also were not able to determine whether the code was written in the same language as Greek or whether it was written on parchment.
“In terms of the function of hieroglypics, there is no one definition,” he said, adding that it was possible that a few different groups used different kinds of hieratic codes, including some of the ones found in ancient Egyptian hieroglypha, a type of written writing.
“Hieratic codes were not simply a kind of shorthand for writing,” he told ABC News.
“They were the primary form of communication between the different cultures that we know of, from the Greeks and the Arabs to the Chinese and the Romans.”
Ancient Greek texts, including those from Egypt, were discovered in the late 19th century and were first used by linguists to reconstruct language and to reconstruct a language spoken in Ancient Greece.
In the early 20th century, linguists used this work to reconstruct the language of the ancient Greeks and other ancient cultures.
The Ancient Greek text that is shown here is from the manuscript of the Deuteronomistic Psalms.
The text is written in a hieratic script that can be combined with words to form phrases, such as the word “gifts” and the word for the sun, called “sun.”
The researchers say that the ancient code is more than 2,000 years old and is still in use today.