In the script chart above, I have drawn examples of a number of letters. This chart, I believe, allows even the untrained eye to see evolutionary changes that permit paleographers to date scripts typologically. The top line, from right to left, presents characters in Old Hebrew script of c. 700 B.C.E.: ’alep, he, kap, lamed, mem, sade and qop. The bottom line, again from right to left, presents the same characters in the paleo-Hebrew script of the late first century B.C.E. (in the shaded area are the modern Hebrew equivalents and English transcriptions). The Old Hebrew letters are drawn from the Siloam tunnel inscription; the paleo-Hebrew letters are drawn from the manuscript 11QLev (the Leviticus manuscript from Cave 11 at Qumran).

The ’alep at Siloam is drawn with a long vertical and three horizontal strokes, two on the right of the vertical, one on the left, a familiar cursive and lapidary pre-Exilic form. The ’alep of the late paleo-Hebrew scripts is made with a short vertical and two horizontal strokes, the upper one breaking through to the left of the vertical. In the latest of the paleo-Hebrew manuscripts, 11QpaleoLev, the top horizontal is written first, and the vertical breaks through only slightly, if at all, above the horizontal.

In the case of kap, Siloam preserves the archaic form derived from the trident: a horizontal v against the sloping vertical. The paleo-Hebrew scripts have a late form in which the top horizontal of the v has migrated out to the end of the lower horizontal.

Lamed in the Siloam text has the archaic loop at the bottom. The paleo-Hebrew scripts preserve the L-form lamed that appeared first in sixth-century B.C.E. scripts.

The mem’s of Siloam and of the paleo-Hebrew scripts could not be more different in how they are made (and look). How letters are made drives typological change. If the manner in which a letter is penned changes, it signals a change in form. The Siloam form is made with two ticks, the second reaching the top of the vertical. The right side of each tick approaches the horizontal in direction. The form is well known in pre-Exilic scripts. The late paleo-Hebrew mem is written with a zig-zag horizontal, the pen not being lifted.

S|ade in the Siloam text is inscribed with broad, free strokes; the lower horizontal breaks through the line down to the left from the first horizontal so that the right side of the sade looks like the Siloam zayin. Nothing of this sort is found in paleo-Hebrew, which has no breakthrough and which is relatively narrow.

Qop at Siloam is made with a looping top in eighth-century B.C.E. style. In the paleo-Hebrew of the Hellenistic and Roman periods, the loop is gone, and another form, influenced perhaps by Aramaic writing styles, has replaced it with an open top.