History of the Alphabets

These phenomenal animations come from the 'History of the Alphabets' course at the University of Maryland. Eight animated GIFs visually trace the development of modern character sets from their historical sources.  

Dictionaries sometimes show the antecedants for modern characters, but in a static form. It's amazing how much more clear the  metamorphoses becomes when fully animated. The most complex is the development of the Latin alphabet from the Phoenician.

The nature of these animations inadvertantly demonstrate the perceptual benefits of comparing information adjacent in space rather than stacked in time. The Cuneiform animation shows the development of wedge writing in four steps. Unlike the other animations however, each frame replaces the one before. This is useful for visualizing subtle variations between forms, but prevents us from drawing holistic comparisons between each stage, as we can in the Latin, or the Cyrillic.

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