M20 Timeline


Middle Kingdom Egypt

2000 BC - 1500 BC

Middle Bronze Age

2000 BC - 1550 BC

Late Bronze Age

1550 BC - 1200 BC

Iron Age

1200 BC - 332 BC

Assyrian Empire

Approx. 900 BC - Approx. 600 BC

Persian Empire

500 BC - 333 BC


Wadi el-Hol

1900 BC

Serabit el-Khadim

Approx. 1700 BC - Approx. 1500 BC

'Izbet Sartah Ostracon

Approx. 1200 BC

Shard of pottery with abecedary on it. May have been an exercise for a student.

Yehimelk inscription

1000 BC

This is one of the Byblos inscriptions and one of the first monumental alphabetic inscriptions from the Iron Age. It commemorates the king for rebuilding a temple.

Ahiram sarcophagus

900 BC

Phoenician inscription that marks the building of the sarcophagus for King Ahiram. Writing doesn't have political function yet.

Tel Zayit

Approx. 900 BC

Old Hebrew abecedary on wall

Moabite Stone

850 BC

Ties king to land. Creates nationalism by declaring the king's conquests.

Tel Dan inscription

Approx. 800 BC

Royal inscription in Aramaic writing that combines territory, language, and kingship to create national identity.

Dipylon inscription

800 BC

Jar with Greek alphabetic inscriptions. Letters stand very close to Phoenician alphabetic letters.

Kilamuwa inscription

Approx. 700 BC

Phoenician royal inscription that links language, dynasty, and land. Combines territorial, national, and political power.

Writing System


Approx. 3500 BC - Approx. 1200 BC

Egyptian Hieroglyphs

3200 BC - 400

Linear A

2000 BC - 1450 BC

Believed to represent the Minoan language of Crete before the Mycenaean Greek invasion of Crete

Cuneiform and Proto-Canaanite Mix

Approx. 2000 BC - Approx. 1200 BC

During the 2nd millennium BCE, scribes were mainly using the cuneiform writing system. However, at the same time, we have several alphabetic inscriptions, demonstrating that both cuneiform and alphabetic writing were known and used in the Levant. Proto-Canaanite inscriptions already demonstrate the existence of attempts to work out alphabetic writing alongside cuneiform traditions in the Levant ca 2000-1200 BC.

emergence of Semitic alphabet

Approx. 2000 BC - Approx. 1800 BC

Proto-Canaanite Alphabet

1725 BC - 1050 BC

Linear B

1450 BC - 1200 BC

Discovered in the later remains of Bronze Age Crete, from period after Mycenaean invasion ca 1450

Chinese Writing

Approx. 1200 BC - Approx. 0 BC


Approx. 1050 BC - Approx. 300 BC


800 BC - Present

Classical Hebrew

800 BC - 500 BC

Hebrew as distinct lang and script

800 BC

becomes distinct national script and language


700 BC - Present

Aramaic (as Transnational Language)

500 BC - 250 BC

Adopted by Assyrian Empire and Persian Empire


300 BC - 1600

Jewish Square Script

Approx. 0 BC


Ugarit is sacked

1220 BC

Nationalizing Scripts

900 BC - 500 BC

Levantine states of Phoenicia, Aram-Demascus, Moab, Israel, and Judah are developing distinct alphabetic scripts as part of their effort to create national identities.