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Top 10 Oldest Languages in the World

Do you know how the ancient world was communicated and how we got all information about it? The answer is: Language.

Language has been the key factor in the human ancient history. In the past, humans felt the need to express themselves, and to describe their surrounding nature and as we know how necessity is the mother of invention, they wanted to record their battles, victories and festivals.

Here, the human creativity started through the making of symbols, numbers and letters to form the languages we know today. And here are the top 10 oldest languages in the world.

1 Hieroglyphics

Dates back to 3,300 BCE, the ancient Egyptians used it as a formal writing system especially for the religious literature to record the most important events on the walls of temples, statues and stones, hieroglyph contains twenty-four signs in the form of symbols and logograms. Ancient Egyptians used papyrus and wood to record it eventually they created hieratic and demotic out of hieroglyphs. Legends of ancient Egypt say: god of Thoth produced writing to inspire Egyptians to be wiser. For long time, hieroglyphs were unknown until the year of 1799 when one of the soldiers of the Napoleonic expedition to Egypt discovered the Rosetta stone that was translated after that into Greek, demotic and hieroglyph.


2 Sumerian

Dates back to 3000 BC in southern Mesopotamia. It took the wedge-shaped strokes and included logophonetic, consonant alphabets and syllabic systems. Eventually, the Akkadian replaced Sumerian to be the spoken language and Sumerian became sacred and literature language of Mesopotamia. The language became forgotten until Assyriologists succeeded in translating its symbols; the Sumerian language is not similar to any other language at the near regions.


3 Phoenician language

Dates back to 1758. It was used by the Mediterranean region, the Phoenician language is considered as one of the Semitic languages. It consists of consonantal alphabet. The Phoenicians spread their alphabet to North Africa and Europe where it was transferred to the Greeks then later to the Romans.


4 Ancient Greek

Dates back to (3000-1000) and it was used by the Ancient Greece and deprived from the Phoenician alphabet. It had many dialects as Attic, Ionic and Doric. The Attic dialect became the formal language of Greek empire. Poems of Iliad and Odyssey were written in ancient Greek. Gradually, the Modern Greek was appeared on 1453 A.D.


5 Old Chinese

Sometimes called “Archaic Chinese” and it dates back to 1200 BC. It consists of monosyllabic words and was flourished during Zhou dynasty especially for the literature and classical works. The Old Chinese is lacking retroflex but it has consonant clusters. It was developed later into the Middle Chinese.


6 Hebrew

It is the Semitic ancient language of Israel that dates back to 1000 BC. Hebrew belongs to the Canaanite languages; it was mostly used in sacred writings. Now spoken by nine million.


7 Aramaic

Dates back to (900-700 BC), one of the Semitic languages, it was the language of Assyrian Empire, many biblical books were written in Aramaic and the churches of the east used it, the Modern Aramaic is spoken by Christian, Jewish and Mandean ethnic races.

8 Armenian language

Dates back to the 4th century BC. It was used by Armenians. It is considered as one of the Indo-European languages. The oldest text of Bible was written in Armenian language.


9 Tamil

Dates back to 500 BC, A Dravidian language used by Tamil people from India and north Sri Lanka. It contains inscriptions. It is one of the first classical Indian languages. The Tamil inscriptions were found from 10th through 14th centuries at south Karnataka districts.


10 Ancient North Arabian 

Dates back to the 1st century BC. It was found through the inscriptions in Arabian Peninsula, Iraq, Jordan and Syria. It belongs to the Afro-Asiatic languages. The ancient North Arabian has different characteristics from the Classical Arabic.


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