|2nd century BC to 4th century AD|
|Final Accepted Script Proposal|
The Nabataean alphabet is an abjad (consonantal alphabet) that was used by the Nabataeans in the second century BCE. Important inscriptions are found in Petra (now in Jordan) and the Sinai Peninsula (now part of Egypt).
The alphabet is descended from the Aramaic alphabet. In turn, a cursive form of Nabataean developed into the Arabic alphabet from the 4th century, which is why Nabataean's letterforms are intermediate between the more northerly Semitic scripts (such as the Aramaic-derived Hebrew) and those of Arabic.
Comparison with related scripts
As compared to other Aramaic-derived scripts, Nabataean developed more loops and ligatures, likely to increase speed of writing. The ligatures seem to have not been standardized and vary across time and space. There were no spaces between words. Numerals in Nabataean script were built from characters of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 20, and 100.
|Kaph||ك||ܟ||כ / ך|
|Mim||م||ܡ||מ / ם|
|Nun||ن||ܢ||נ / ן|
|Simkath||(not in Arabic)||ܣ||ס|
|Pe/Fa||ف||ܦ||פ / ף|
|Ṣāḏē/Ṣad||ص||ܨ||צ / ץ|
- Note that the Syriac and Arabic alphabets are always cursive and that some of their letters look different in medial or initial position.
- See Aramaic alphabet § Letters for a more detailed comparison of letterforms.
The Nabataean alphabet (U+10880–U+108AF) was added to the Unicode Standard in June 2014 with the release of version 7.0.
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
- Himelfarb, Elizabeth J. "First Alphabet Found in Egypt", Archaeology 53, Issue 1 (Jan./Feb. 2000): 21.
- Everson, Michael (2010-12-09). "N3969: Proposal for encoding the Nabataean script in the SMP of the UCS" (PDF). Working Group Document, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC2/WG2.