Nabataean alphabet

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Languages Nabataean language
Time period
2nd century BC to 4th century AD
Parent systems
Child systems
Arabic alphabet
Direction Right-to-left
ISO 15924 Nbat, 159
Unicode alias
Final Accepted Script Proposal

The Nabataean alphabet is a consonantal alphabet (abjad) that was used by the Nabataeans in the 2nd century BC.[2] Important inscriptions are found in Petra, Jordan. The alphabet is descended from the Syriac alphabet, which was itself descended from the Aramaic alphabet. In turn, a cursive form of Nabataean developed into the Arabic alphabet from the 4th century,[2] which is why Nabataean's letterforms are intermediate between the more northerly Semitic scripts (such as the Aramaic-derived Hebrew) and those of Arabic.

As compared to other Aramaic scripts, Nabataean developed more loops and ligatures, likely to increase speed of writing. The ligatures seem to have not been standardized and vary across time and space. There were no spaces between words. Numerals in Nabataean script were built from characters of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 20, and 100.

Nabatean Name Arabic
01 aleph.svg Alef ا‎ ܐ א
02 bet.svg Beth/Beh ب‎ ܒ ב
03 gimel.svg Gamal/Giim ج‎ ܓ ג
04 dal.svg Dalath/Dal ﺩ‎ ܕ ד
05 ha.svg Heh ه‎ ܗ ה
06 waw.svg Waw ﻭ‎ ܘ ו
07 zayn.svg Zain ﺯ‎ ܙ ז
08 ha.svg Ha/Heth ح‎ ܚ ח
09 taa.svg Teth ﻁ‎ ܛ ט
10 yaa.svg Yodh/Ya ي‎ ܝ י
11 kaf.svg Kaph ك‎ ܟ כ / ך
12 lam.svg Lamadh/Lam ل‎ ܠ ל
13 meem.svg Meem م‎ ܡ מ / ם
14 noon.svg Noon ن‎ ܢ נ / ן
15 sin.svg Simkath/Seen س‎ ܣ ס
16 ein.svg 'E/Ain ع‎ ܥ ע
17 fa.svg Peh/Feh ف‎ ܦ פ / ף
18 sad.svg Sad'e/Saad ص‎ ܨ צ / ץ
19 qaf.svg Qoph ﻕ‎ ܩ ק
20 ra.svg Resh/Raa ﺭ‎ ܪ ר
21 shin.svg Sheen ش‎ ܫ ש
22 ta.svg Taw/Tah ﺕ‎ ܬ ת
  • Note that the Syriac and Arabic alphabets are always cursive and that some of their letters look differently in medial or initial position.
  • See the entry Aramaic Alphabet for more a more complete comparison of letterforms.


The Nabataean alphabet (U+10880–U+108AF) was added to the Unicode Standard in June 2014 with the release of version 7.0.

Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
U+1088x 𐢀 𐢁 𐢂 𐢃 𐢄 𐢅 𐢆 𐢇 𐢈 𐢉 𐢊 𐢋 𐢌 𐢍 𐢎 𐢏
U+1089x 𐢐 𐢑 𐢒 𐢓 𐢔 𐢕 𐢖 𐢗 𐢘 𐢙 𐢚 𐢛 𐢜 𐢝 𐢞
U+108Ax 𐢧 𐢨 𐢩 𐢪 𐢫 𐢬 𐢭 𐢮 𐢯
1.^ As of Unicode version 8.0
2.^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points

See also


  1. Himelfarb, Elizabeth J. "First Alphabet Found in Egypt", Archaeology 53, Issue 1 (Jan./Feb. 2000): 21.
  2. 2.0 2.1 [1],