Tel Aviv Institute of Archaeology

As simple as. … An ancient writer, perhaps a practicing student, used the potsherd above as an abecedary—a listing of the letters of the alphabet. Found at Izbet Sartah, this abecedary consists of over five lines of ancient Hebrew script, over 80 letters in all; the last line contains, with minor variations, the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Notably, the letters are written left to right, indicating that the sherd was inscribed before Hebrew’s right-to-left direction became fixed. The abecedary, coming from a small village, says much about the rise of literacy among the ancient Israelites.