The Phoenician alphabet
The ancient Phoenician alphabet also developed around 1500 BC. It comprised 22 phonetically-basedsymbols and was widely used. By 800 BC, it had spread to Greece, and under the rule of Alexander theGreat, it further spread to Egypt, Persia, and India.
The Roman Empire
The Roman Empire rose to power in the 2nd century BC, and by 146 BC had conquered Greece. TheRomans adopted many aspects of Greek culture, including the alphabet. This 23-letter alphabet spreadacross Europe as far as England, and also into Northern Africa and the Persian Gulf. Inscriptions in capitalletters were carved on structures all over the empire.The hand-written counterpart to the carved capitals was called Capitalis Quadrata. These were later transformed into Rustica Capitals, which were very condensed in width, so that more text could fit onto parchment and papyrus, which were still expensive materials.By 400 AD, an everyday Roman script had developed for transactions, bookkeeping and correspondence.Written letter forms were much more informal in shape, compared to the structured capitals. Letters beganto flow together to save time and space on parchment. This was the earliest sign of lowercase letter forms,with ascenders, descenders and ligatures between the letters.
Christianity and Celtic writing
By now, Christianity was the official religion throughout the empire, and Bibles were copied anddistributed to the extent allowed by the limitations of producing each one by hand. St. Patrick brought aBible with him to Ireland, and the Irish began producing their own elaborately designed Bibles.The Celtic style of lettering involved writing the letters within 1-inch square guides, and were known asuncials. Around 600 AD, smaller half-uncials appeared, which closely resembled our modern lowercaseletters. The letters were very rounded in style, and ascenders and descenders were extended on thelowercase letters. Also, word spacing was increased to improve readability.
Charlemagne standardizes writing
In the late 700's AD, the ruler Charlemagne controlled most of Europe, and appointed an English monk tooversee standardized lettering practices for copying texts. Large uncials were used at the beginning of sentences, and lowercase letters were now a uniform part of the Roman alphabet.This style developed into Romanesque hand, and later into the Gothic style in Germany, around 900 AD.Gothic lettering was very thick, angular, and tightly set between letters and words, to save space. The doton the lowercase i was added to distinguish it from similar strokes in the m, n and u.Lettering styles continued to develop. There was a common script style in use for practical purposes, and amore precise, artistic hand lettering was used for important texts and books, with great care taken to writeeach letter.In the 10th century, the letter u was created separately from the v, whereas previously the v was used for both sounds (such as sirivs instead of sirius). The w was created in the 12th century to accommodate moreEuropean languages, where the v would not serve. The j evolved from a modified i in the 15th century. This brought the Roman alphabet to 26 letters total.
From writing to mechanical printing, and back to writing