Classical Quarterly 44 (3-4):97- (1950)

The late Sir George Hill in the first volume of his monumental History of Cyprus remarks that the Cypriot syllabary is found in use until the third century B.C. This, it may be noted, is the traditional opinion which for some sixty years has stood the test of time. I read therefore with interest on p. 330 of the same volume, among the addenda, that ‘pottery with incised inscriptions, discovered in 1939 in an excavation four miles from Nicosia, shows that the syllabary continued to be used as late as the first century B.C.’ Sir George Hill in effect is here accepting the claim of Mrs. E. H. Dohan and Professor R. G. Kent, which he has hitherto ignored, that the syllabary survived until 50 B.C. Now this is an important claim, partly because it would add from two to three centuries to the life-span of a script already in possession of a long and reputable lineage; more particularly because, if true, it will convict the ancient Cypriot, admittedly a conservative individual, of a degree of conservatism with which I find it hard to credit even him. That there should still have been men in the hinterland of the island under the governorship of Cicero so little affected by the impact of the whole Hellenistic age that they were prepared to write Greek in a manner so uncouth and preserve, incidentally, certain elements of their old Arcadian tongue, is to my thinking highly improbable. A fresh examination of the evidence on which Mrs. Dohan and Professor Kent based their claim is clearly called for
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DOI 10.1017/s0009838800028597
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