Tag Archives: ox

Canaanite turquoise miners fool around with hieroglyphics during lunch break

My pals (and Western Civ User’s Guide Irregulars) Ilene L and Jeffrey K each sent me a link to this Nova series on PBS about the origins of the alphabet—in it, archaeologist Orly Goldwasser asserts that a group of Canaanite turquoise miners working in Egypt were fooling around with hieroglyphics and almost-by-accident invented the alphabet. I think it’s a compelling theory—that’s exactly how a creative mind works: by fooling around. Okay so far. If that’s how it happened, their invention would still need to be promoted, spread far-and-wide, made popular. How do you do that?

The beautiful top drawing of an ox head was drawn by an expert drawer. Under that is an ox head as the Egyptian hieroglyphic symbol Aleph. Under that is a pathetic attempt at drawing ox heads by some ham-fisted Canaanite turquoise miner. At the bottom is our letter A.

The Phoenician traders and all their customers needed an efficient writing system to keep business records. The alphabet turned out to be the writing system they needed. The Phoenician trade routes were a communications network—like social media today but without the kitten photos. Those sea-captains visited every port around the Mediterranean Sea. Once the Phoenicians started using the alphabet, everybody started using the alphabet.

And how did the Canaanite miners get their invention to Phoenician sea-captains? You kids who go to Sunday school and Hebrew school knew this one already. Look in the back of your study bibles at the map—the Phoenician cities Sidon, Byblos and Tyre are in the Land of Canaan. Canaanites = Phoenicians.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-9122891/Alphabet-Canaanite-miners-Ancient-Egypt-simple-letters-intricate-hieroglyphs.html
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2016/12/30/did-illiterate-egyptian-miners-invent-alphabet/95992202/
Very good article here: https://barzilaiendan.com/2012/06/08/cine-a-inventat-alfabetul/

Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing.

Plymouth Plantation

It’s November—time to start thinking about Thanksgiving and pilgrims!  Here’s another scene from Two Bad Pilgrims.  This one shows the pilgrims beginning construction of Plymouth Plantation.  The first thing they built was the common house/fort.  This is my thumbnail sketch, 2 inches tall.

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One of the great things about being an illustrator is that you’re always learning something.  F’rinstance, to draw this scene of 17th century building construction, I had to find out how those buildings were framed; how a block and tackle works; how an ox yoke is harnessed.  I made several trips to the library and spent some time on the internet.

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I show the pilgrims hauling cannon to the upper storey of the fort.  p22newyoke

Art director Jim Hoover and editor Kendra Levin had a team of crack historians fact-checking my sketches.  Turns out the pilgrims didn’t bring any oxen with them on the Mayflower, so I replaced the ox with a group of men when I inked in the drawing.  Too bad; I kind of liked the ox.  The timbers are shaped to form mortise and tenon joints.  That’s an adz lying in the foreground.  p24.lojpg

Color indication—

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—and colorized final art.

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Colorization by Mr Vince Dorse.

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