An introduction to early Aramaic handwriting
How to write Palestinian Aramaic using the Herodian script
How to write Syriac using the Estrangela script
Following quite number of requests, I have added two basic introductions to the early Aramaic handwriting used in the Palestine region during the first century AD. The first example illustrates how to write Aramaic using the Herodian script which was used to write Palestinian Aramaic and the second example shows how to write Syriac letters using the beautiful semi-cursive Estrangela script. Both of these scripts were used to write Aramaic at the time of Christ. This information about Aramaic handwriting techniques has been gathered from photographs of manuscripts and inscriptions written in ancient Palestinian Aramaic and Syriac.
Learning to read and write in Aramaic or Syriac takes time and considerable effort. However, for those who wish to make a start, it is comparatively easy and fun to learn the handwriting. Both Aramaic and Syriac use the same basic 22 letter alphabet and they are both written from right to left on the page. The Herodian script is uncial, that is to say, each letter is separated from the ones on either side. The Syriac Estrangela script is semi-cursive. With any semi-cursive script, the writing tends to flow better because some of the letters are connected to those on either side.
With the handwriting guidelines I have provided a few authentic Aramaic texts to copy out as worked examples. These include; how to write the name of Yeshu`a (Jesus) in His own language, texts from interesting inscriptions and brief extracts cited from ancient Aramaic and Syriac manuscripts.
It is readily possible to teach yourself how to write Aramaic exactly as it was written in Palestine at the time of Christ. At that time, Palestinian Aramaic was written using the uncial Herodian script: the same script used by the scribes who wrote some of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The scribes used a reed pen to write Aramaic, but a sharp modern pencil works very well. So, why not find a pencil and a piece of A4 lined paper and try writing some Aramaic letters? An introduction to the alphabet can be found on page 1. Should you wish to practise the handwriting a little, there are also some Palestinian Aramaic sentences provided for practice.
From before 6 AD when the Birecik inscription was made and up to the present day, the Estrangela script has been used to write Syriac. Estrangela is an extremely elegant semi-cursive handwritten script. The pen strokes used to form the letters of Estrangela handwriting are quite simple. With a little practice, the appearance of the handwriting rapidly improves. So, why not find a pencil and some lined A4 paper and try your hand at writing Syriac? Syriac is a dialect of Aramaic and it uses the same alphabet as Palestinian Aramaic, only the handwriting is different. Some detailed guidelines on the pen strokes used to write Syriac letters can be found on page 2 below. Most, but not all, of the Estrangela letters can be joined to others on either side. Page 3 explains how to join the letters. Should you wish to, there are some Syriac sentences provided for practice.
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