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10.7: Concluding Remarks

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  • With respect to the closer theme of this volume, I have considered a number of the issues arising from the use of different surfaces and their possible reflection in the script of the broad period, c.800 to 300 bc. Direct connections seem few and are sporadic; the Greek-speaking world adapted a Semitic ‘alphabet’ into its contemporary decorative tradition and the resulting letters in general terms changed but slowly thenceforth. Use of ‘brush and ink’ cursive forms, on whatever surface, is highly sporadic in that world until the 4th century BC. Some aids to reading, or ‘picking up’ the letters, are used; in the earlier part of the period these include the boustrophedon system and interpuncts, but both disappear by c.500 BC, when stoichedon writing would seem to have a blocking effect on more ‘fluid’ approaches. Cursive lettering does become more frequent in our preserved record in the later 4th century BC, largely, we must assume, through the influence of papyrus-written texts, even though these would by then have been in general use for at least 200 years.