Nabataean alphabet

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Nabat alaph.png Nabat bat.png Nabat gamal.png Nabat dalat.png Nabat ha.png Nabat waw.png Nabat zayin.png Nabat hha.png Nabat tta.png Nabat yat.png Nabat kaf.png Nabat lamad.png Nabat mayim.png Nabat nun.png Nabat sa.png Nabat hamza.png
Script type
Time period
2nd century BC to 4th century AD
Direction right-to-left script   OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
Languages Nabataean language
Related scripts
Parent systems
Child systems
Arabic script
ISO 15924
ISO 15924 Nbat(159),Nabataean
Unicode alias
Final Accepted Script Proposal
Example in Nabataean alphabet Umm al-Jimal al-Awwal commons.jpg
Example in Nabataean alphabet

The Nabataean alphabet is an abjad (consonantal alphabet) that was used by the Nabataeans in the second century BC. [2] [3] Important inscriptions are found in Petra (now in Jordan), the Sinai Peninsula (now part of Egypt), and other archaeological sites including Abdah (in Israel) and Mada'in Saleh in Saudi Arabia.


Nabataean Kingdom, Aretas IV and Shaqilath, 9 b. C. - 40 a. D., AE18. On the reverse, an example of Nabataean script: names of Aretas IV (1st line) and Shaqilath (2nd and 3rd line). Coin of Aretas IV and Shaqilath.jpg
Nabataean Kingdom, Aretas IV and Shaqilath, 9 b. C. - 40 a. D., AE18. On the reverse, an example of Nabataean script: names of Aretas IV (1st line) and Shaqilath (2nd and 3rd line).


The alphabet is descended from the Aramaic alphabet. In turn, a cursive form of Nabataean developed into the Arabic alphabet from the 4th century, [3] which is why Nabataean's letterforms are intermediate between the more northerly Semitic scripts (such as the Aramaic-derived Hebrew) and those of Arabic.

Tablet with the Nabataean alphabet on it. Nabataean alphabet tablet - 2018430.jpg
Tablet with the Nabataean alphabet on it.

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 varied across places and time. There were no spaces between words. Numerals in Nabataean script were built from characters of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 20, and 100.

NabateanName Arabic
01 aleph.svg ʾĀlap̄/ʾAlif ء اܐא
02 bet.svg Beth/Ba بـ بܒב
03 gimel.svg Gamal/Jim جـ جܓג
04 dal.svg Dalath/Dal ܕד
05 ha.svg Heh هـ هܗה
06 waw.svg Waw ܘו
07 zayn.svg Zain ܙז
08 ha.svg Ha/Heth حـ حܚח
09 taa.svg Teth ܛט
10 yaa.svg Yodh/Ya يـ يܝי
11 kaf.svg Kaph كـ كܟכ / ך
12 lam.svg Lamadh/Lam لـ لܠל
13 meem.svg Mim مـ مܡמ / ם
14 noon.svg Nun نـ نܢנ / ן
15 sin.svg Simkath ܣס
16 ein.svg 'E/Ain عـ عܥע
17 fa.svg Pe/Fa فـ فܦפ / ף
18 sad.svg Ṣāḏē/Ṣad صـ صܨצ / ץ
19 qaf.svg Qoph قـ ﻕܩק
20 ra.svg Resh/Ra ܪר
21 shin.svg Šin/Sin ﺳ سܫש
22 ta.svg Taw/Ta تـ ﺕܬת


The Nabataean alphabet (U+10880U+108AF) was added to the Unicode Standard in June 2014 with the release of version 7.0.

Nabataean [1] [2]
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
1. ^ As of Unicode version 14.0
2. ^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points

See also

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  1. Himelfarb, Elizabeth J. "First Alphabet Found in Egypt", Archaeology 53, Issue 1 (Jan./Feb. 2000): 21.
  2. 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.
  3. 1 2 Omniglot.
  4. Yaʻaḳov Meshorer, "Nabataean coins", Ahva Co-op Press, 1975; 114.
  5. Numista