The alphabet was one of the most important inventions in the history of mankind. It replaced unwieldy memorization of thousands of pictures or hundreds of syllabic signs with an easy-to-learn sequence of approximately 30 letters, which could be combined into thousands of words. About the middle of the 14th century B.C., scribes at Ugarit, perhaps influenced by a knowledge of the earlier Canaanite linear alphabet, invented the cuneiform alphabet. Although the Ugaritic alphabet is thus not the first, it is the oldest alphabet in which a significant number of texts are extant.