Courtesy Ze’ev Meshel

Four partial abecedaries are painted around the handle of a early-eighth-century B.C.E. pithos found at Kuntillet ‘Ajrud in the Sinai. All four examples are written right-to-left. The second and fourth are in red ink by the same elegant hand (and covered on the left by a later inscription), while the first and third are written in black ink, possibly by students. Examples 2, 3 and 4 include a pe/ayin sequence (indicated by arrows in the drawing), in contrast to the typical ayin/pe order found in the standard Hebrew alphabet. (The relevant portion of the alphabet isn’t extant in the first abecedary.)