Ancient writing systems in the Mediterranean

A critical guide to electronic resources


- (12th century BC? - today)

Online resources

Web sites of general interest

  1. The Center for Online Judaic Studies
    This site is "committed to making accessible the riches of the Jewish past through the new technologies of digital photography and the internet".
    Wide-ranging and well-researched presentation of the history of the Hebrew alphabet and of its written mutations, illustrated with images and synoptic tables; the text can be printed for private use.
  3. The Biblical Archaeological Review
    Articles, discussions and debates about old and new Near Eastern archeological discoveries that throw light on the historical, social and cultural context of Hebrew and Christian writings.

Online documents

  1. The On-line Responsa Project
    Project developed by the Bar-Ilan University of Ramat Gan, Israel, it offers the largest online collection in the world of Hebrew texts that contributed to the formation of the Jewish religious tradition from the Tanakh onwards.
  2. Tradition and traditions. New ways to think about orality and writing. Israelite data
    Excellent, easily-read and downloadable article with reproductions, Italian translation (at times) brief introduction and comment on epigraphic occurrences - doubtful, disputed and certain - of ancient Hebrew (13th - 5th century BC) with reference to the relationship that emerges between orality and writing. In Italian.
  3. West Semitic Documents

    English translation, notes and bibliography about:

    1) Order of King Josiah (?) of silver for the temple of JHWH (2nd half 7th century BC);
    2) Ostrakon with a widow's petition (9th-7th century BC);
    3) Siloam channel inscription (about 701 BC);
    4) Ostrakon of Yabneh Yam (about 639-609 BC; of disputed authenticity);
    5) Lachish Letter #3 (about 598 BC);
    6) 1QpHab: interpretation of Habakkuk from Qumran (about 100 BC);
    7) pMur 42: letter attesting ownership of a cow (135 AD);

    The texts are not always accompanied by images and transcriptions in square Hebrew, but often there is a link to follow where photos of the findings and if available of their original and current locations can be found. The homepage offers a link to a small photo gallery.

  4. The Siloam Inscription
    Text (excellent image), transcription and English translation of the Siloam Inscription.
  5. The Gnostic Society Library. Dead Sea Scrolls: Resources
    In the endless pages of material available on the web, this site offers a first and indispensable orientation, offering annotated links to resources of every type for the study of the Dead Sea Scrolls. There are accurate photos of each text, transcriptions and interlined English translations, courses, lessons, online commentaries and panoramas of the history of research of these materials.
  6. Medieval Hebrew Poetry
    English translations of poetic texts in Hebrew from the 4th to the 18th centuries AD.
  7. Project Ben Yehuda
    This site offers online access to the "classics" of modern and contemporary Hebrew literature.
  8. West Semitic Research Project
    Published by the University of Southern California. Users are asked to sign a free agreement for access to the "Scholarly Site" section, which offers high-resolution images of epigraphic documents and more in Western Semitic languages, including Hebrew; the links to further online resources is also useful. Images are provided with an introduction, a short comment and an English translation, and they can be studied down to the detail of a single letter, and re-examined.
  9. The Forbidden Gospels
    Blog by April DeConick, the Isla Carroll and Percy E. Turner Professor of Biblical Studies at Rice University in Houston, Texas. It provides a number of links to reproductions, transcriptions, English translations and articles about the so-called "Apocalypse of Gabriel", 87 lines of Hebrew text written on rock and - based on the first analyses waiting for confirmation - datable to 1st century BC.
  10. InscriptiFact
    Online archive of high-resolution images of inscriptions and artefacts from the Near East, freely accessible by signing up, published by the University of Southern California.
  11. Fit for a Queen: Jezebel's Royal Seal
    Images, discussion and debate about the presumed seal of Jezebel, daughter of Ethbaal, king of Tyre, and wife of Ahab, king of Israel (about 872-851 BC).
  12. Northwest Semitic Inscriptions Archive
    On-line archive of inscriptions written in North-West Semitic languages. The archive can be searched both by artefact and bibliographical entries. Every single inscription is listed according to the main critical editions. Description, transcription into Hebrew square writing (download font to see), and dating suggestions follow. The site is divided into two sections – one is educational, “for educators and students”; one is more technical “for scholars” – and offers high resolution images to document objects and epigraphy. For copyright reasons not all the images are included in this site, but one can gain access via the parallel site Inscriptifact, which is part of the same project, or by emailing the site administrators.
  13. Ancient Hebrew Pottery Bears Biblical Name
    News on the unearthing of a jar handle on the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem. The inscription reads: l(?) mnhm ("[belonging to?] Mnhm"). The artifact dates back approximately to 900 BC.
  14. Archaeology News Report: Fragment Of Hebrew Inscription Found
    News on the excavation of a limestone fragment, near the Gihon Spring, Jerusalem. A few letters on two lines are readable. The stone fragment dates to the 8th century BC. The reconstruction of the inscription is still largely hypothetical.
  15. The Digital Dead Sea Scrolls
    Website hosting the first digital Dead Sea Scrolls thanks to the agreement between Google and the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. High resolution images are available; texts can be easily browsed and studied down to the details of each word and letter.
  16. The Dead Sea Scroll Digital Library
    Enjoying the official support of the Israel Antiquities Authority, this site grants access to older pictures and new, digitalized images of manuscript fragments unearthed in different sites of the Judean desert (Qumran; Nahal Hever; Wadi Murabba’at; Masada; Wadi Daliyeh) and redacted in various languages and writings systems (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Latin). The archive, still under construction, can be browsed by provenance, language and content of the documents
  17. ‘Atiqot
    Official page of the journal of the Israel Antiquities Authority. The volumes issued from 2005 are open access and downloadable in pdf format. It is a useful and authoritative tool to stay up-to-date on archaeological discoveries in Israel, epigraphical and beyond.

Institutions, centers for study and research

  1. A collection of ancient inscriptions from Israel/Palestine
    Ongoing project of Brown University, this site was released in 2018 and contains a Google Earth map with the found places for epigraphic material in Israel; the map search tool allows the selection of the desired date range, the material, type and language of the inscriptions. Therefore, it is a very useful tool not only for scholars of semitic languages but also for those who study the Greek and Roman presence in Palestine. The search results contain an image of the find (when present), the transcription, a translation - with all the relevant sources and information on the find such as the material, the date, the place held and, if any, also some bibliographic references.

Study and research centers

  1. Jewish History Resource Center
    Site of the "Dinur Center for Research in Jewish History. The Jewish History Resource Center" of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
  2. Harvard University Center for Jewish Studies
    The Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Harvard.
  3. CAJS home
    "The Herbert D.Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies" of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.
  4. The Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies
    Independent center of the University of Oxford, dedicated to Hebrew and Jewish studies; home to the "European Association for Jewish Studies", publishes the "Journal of Jewish Studies".
  5. Centre for Jewish Studies, University of Manchester
    Site for the Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Manchester.
  6. Institut für Judaistik
    Site of the Institut für Judaistik at the Freie Universität-Berlin; it offers links as well to research and study centers about Judaism in Germany.
  7. Hochschule für Jüdische Studien
    Site of the Hochschule für Jüdische Studien of the Ruprecht-Karls Universität, Heidelberg; an English version is also available.
  8. Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls
    Official site of the main research center for the Dead Sea Scrolls and related literature, part of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Rich in resources and links, it offers a virtual tour of the Qumran site and images of texts with partial English translation; the bibliography is updated on a weekly basis.
  9. The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
    Official site of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. In the so-called "Shrine of the Book", created in 1965, manuscripts from the Dead Sea are conserved and exhibited; unfortunately, the collections can be searched online only for highlights.
  10. Hebrew Paleography Project
    This database includes information - date, name of the scribe, material description - for all medieval manuscripts using Hebrew characters. The initial interface and the codicological data only are both in Hebrew and English; all remaining information is in Hebrew only. It is important to note that the database does not contain manuscripts but 'codicological units' that may not correspond to the entire manuscript.

Academic materials

  1. Online Resources for Biblical Hebrew
    This page groups a number of useful learning resources for Hebrew, biblical and more: texts and flashcards, lexical repertoires and video lessons.
  2. (
    These two sites (the first is in French) offer tools for learning ancient and modern Hebrew, from fonts and downloadable dictionaries to instantaneous translations of words and phrases, vocabulary exercises and games.
  3. FoundationStone - a free and easy way to learn Hebrew
    Free, downloadable Java application for learning Hebrew and for the Online Hebrew Tutorial.
  4. The CrossWire Bible Society - FlashCards - Greek, Hebrew, and More...
    Downloadable lexical flash cards for quizzing, to refresh, practice and enlarge biblical Hebrew vocabulary.
  5. "Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon" by Friedrich Wilhelm Gesenius
    The classic grammar by J. Weingreen (1st ed. 1939) in .pdf format; indispensable.
  6. "The Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon" by Brown - Driver - Briggs
    Another classic, still useful lexicon, by Brown - Driver - Briggs (1st ed.: 1906).
  7. "A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature" by M.Jastrow
    Downloadable .pdf version, with online alphabetical access, of this classic dictionary by M. Jastrow, 1st ed. 1903.
  8. GESENIUS, Hebrew Grammar
    Reproduction in .pdf of the second English edition of the Hebrew grammar by F.W. Gesenius (1910), based on the 28th German edition (1909).
  9. Davar - Biblical Hebrew Vocabularies
    Multimedia vocabulary of Biblical Hebrew, building on animation, graphics and sound to help learning processes (reading, writing, pronouncing).
  10. Lexilogos
    Links to many useful classics and more recent resources can be found on this page aimed at both a beginners' and advanced study of Hebrew and Aramaic.
  11. Resources for the Study of Biblical Hebrew and Ancient Near Eastern Texts
    A set of resources, both online and not, for the study of Hebrew and of Near Eastern languages (Akkadian, Aramaic, Egyptian, Phoenician, Sumerian and Ugaritic).


  1. Shlomit seal with Phoenician writing (7th-6th century BC or 538-445 BC)
    Elliptical seal in black stone, engraved with two bearded priests on foot at the sides of an incense altar, with their hands lifted to heaven as if praying; over their heads there is a quarter moon, symbol of the Babylonian god Sin.
  2. Holy Land Photos
    Photos of the original collocation of the Siloam inscription (with link to other photos of Palestine sites).
  3. British Museum - Lachish Letter I
    Image and short comment about the letter on the ostrakon from Lachish, fortress south of Jerusalem, destroyed and burned by the Babylonians in 586 BC.
  4. British Museum - Lachish Letter II
    Image and short comment about the letter on the ostrakon from Lachish, fortress south of Jerusalem, destroyed and burned by the Babylonians in 586 BC.
  5. The Dorot Foundation Dead Sea Scrolls Information and Study Center - The Great Isaiah Scroll
    Isaiah scroll from Qumran (125-100 BC); excellent quality, downloadable and "unscrollable"!
  6. The Dorot Foundation Dead Sea Scrolls Information and Study Center - The Temple Scroll
    Temple scroll from Qumran (97 BC - 1 AD); excellent quality, downloadable and "unscrollable"!
  7. Scrolls from the Dead Sea (Library of Congress Exhibition)
    Pages of text, transcription and partial English translation of 11QPs, a collection of canonic and non canonic psalms and hymns from Qumran.
  8. Scrolls from the Dead Sea (Library of Congress Exhibition)
    Images and partial English translations of Mur 4 Phyl (phylactery from Murabba 'at, end 1st - beginning 2nd century AD), 4Q258 (Community rules from Qumran, end 1st BC - beginning 1st century AD), 4Q321 (calendar scroll from Qumran, 50-25 BC), 4QMMT (scroll of the precepts of the Law from Qumran, end 1st BC - beginning 1st century AD).
  9. Dead Sea Scrolls - Qumran Library
    Images, introduction and partial English translation of fragments of scrolls from Qumran, with a short off-line bibliography.
  10. The Aleppo Codex Online
    Aleppo Codex (925-930 AD), the oldest manuscript of the Masorah tradition of the Tanakh, can be browsed online but also available in .pdf format. The homepage offers a great deal of further information, with articles and other resources.
  11. History in Fragments: A Genizah Centenary
    Digital library with texts and fragments from the Genizah of the Cairo synagogue with an advanced search feature.
  12. Prague Bible
    Prague Bible (1489) in three volumes, can be browsed online, page by page.
  13. JNUL Ketubbot Database
    The Ketubbot database contains marriage contracts from all over the world for a period of 900 years; ed. Jewish National and University Library of Jerusalem.
  14. Hebrew Collections
    Collection of Hebrew manuscripts and printed books at the British Library. Further important links provided, both internal and external.


  1. Christopher A.Rollston Academia page
    Christopher A. Rollston academia page which offers a recent survey on the current state of research including an updated treatment of the latest archeological findings from 2008 on (for example, the ostraka from Khirbet Qeiyafa) dealing as well with the questions of mapping the diffusion of literacy in the kingdoms of Israel, Judah and Moab during the 10th-9th centuries b.C.E., and dating the oldest Hebrew texts preserved in the Jewish Scriptures.
  2. The ʾIšbaʿal Inscription from Khirbet Qeiyafa
    Paper published in 2015 by Yosef Garfinkel, Mitka R. Golub, Haggai Misgav and Saar Ganor, which documents a few inscribed ostraka found at Khirbet Qeiyafa. The paper presents an overview of the studies on the archaeological site, the found context for the most substantial ostrakon, the results of radiometric dating and an analysis of the writing system. It is a Canaanite inscription read from right to left, work of an expert and comparable to few finds from the area, dating to the 10th century B.C.
  3. Three 10th-9th Century B.C.E. Inscriptions From Tel Rehov
    Article from 2003 by Amihai Mazar, Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, offering text, transcription and comment about three brief inscriptions from Tel Rehov, all datable from 10th to 9th century BC.
  4. The Alphabet at the Turn of the Millennium: The West Semitic Alphabet Ca. 1150-850 BCE
    Benjamin Sass,The Alphabet at the Turn of the Millennium: The West Semitic Alphabet Ca. 1150-850 BCE : the Antiquity of the Arabian, Greek and Phrygian Alphabets, Tel Aviv University Institute of Archaeology Occasional Publications 4), Tel Aviv, 2005. Downloadable in pdf from the Benjamin Sass page in


  1. Scriptorium
    Epigraphic and scribal, from ancient Phoenician to archaic Aramaic and that of Elephantine, including the Paleo-Hebrew of the inscription of Siloam, the Hebrew of 1QpHab and other Qumran scrolls and, not least of all, Samaritan writing.
  2. Fonts for Biblical Studies
    A number of Unicode fonts for Hebrew.
  3. BibleWorks - Greek and Hebrew Fonts
    Greek and Hebrew fonts for biblical studies.


  1. Israel Antiquities Authority
    Home page of the English version of the official site of "Israel Antiquities Authority". It provides information about the most recent archeological discoveries which took place in Israel.


  1. Malachi Beit Arieh
    Malachi Beit Arieh (The Hebrew University, Jerusalem), promoter and director of the Hebrew Paleography Project: main publications.
  2. Ernest Renan
    Project, history and people of the CIS (Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum d'Ernest Renan); the third volume on Hebrew inscriptions was never published.
  3. Daniel Abramovich Chwolson (1819-1911)
    Author of the Corpus Inscriptionum Hebraicarum (St. Petersburg, 1882), with inscriptions - funeral and more - and proofs of manuscript writing (9th-15th century AD) in square alphabet.
  4. Giovanni Garbini
    Giovanni Garbini, an Academic of Lincei, an orientalist and Semitic scholar. This page, taken from the Archivio di fonti bibliografiche e documentarie sul Vicino Oriente antico ”Francesco Vattioni'” links to the bibliographic reference in the Treccani site, and to a biography of his writings from 1956 till 2006.
  5. Ada Yardeni page of Ada Yardeni, a paleographer from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, who died in 2018. The page contains her updated bibliography and many freely downloadable papers.


    A bibliography of Ugaritic grammar and biblical Hebrew grammar in the 20th century, ed. M.S. Smith, Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at the New York University; updated to 2004.
  2. ABZU Bibliography
    Database for the research of periodicals, monographs and websites relevant to ancient Near Eastern studies, ed. by Charles E. Jones, head librarian of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University.
  3. RAMBI - Basic Search
    RAMBI - index of articles for Judaic studies, published by the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem.
  4. Qumran texts - some research suggestions
    "Qumran texts - some research suggestions", by Prof. J. Sievers of the Pontifical Biblical Institute of Rome. In question-answer format, with bibliography, information and - when available - links. Fundamental for anyone undertaking academic research on the Qumran scrolls. In Italian.
  5. Semitica et Theologica - I manoscritti di Qumran
    Ed. by E. Jucci, professor of Hebrew at the University of Pavia; selects, provides and critically comments a number of web resources which cover every aspect of research about the Dead Sea scrolls, from the archeology of the site to the history of ancient Hebrew thought and its tendencies.