Alphabet & Georgian Language

Georgian Alphabet

Georgian alphabet is one of only fourteen modern alphabets in the world. The oldest accepted examples of Georgian writing are an Asomtavruli (capitalized letters) inscription in a church in Bethlehem from 430 C.E. Gamkrelidze [1990 (Alphabetic Writing and the Old Georgian script)] argues that it must have followed the advent of Christianity in Georgia (c. 337 C.E.), and that the forms of the letters are a freely invented in imitation of the Greek model. However, many of the letterforms are similar to the contemporary Sassanian Persian and Sogdian scripts, while the left-to-right writing direction and the order of the alphabet are Greek.

There are other interpretations as well. One of the more contentious is that the Asomtavruli alphabet was invented in 412 B.C.E. by Georgian priests of the cult of Matra (known in Persian as Mithra), and reformed in 284 B.C.E. by King Parnavaz I of Iberia. The Asomtavruli alphabet is also known as Mrgvlovani (rounded). Examples of it are still preserved in monumental inscriptions, such as those of the Georgian church in Bethlehem (near Jerusalem, 430 C.E.) and the church of Bolnisi Sioni near Tbilisi (4th-5th centuries C.E.). Older Asomtavruli inscriptions have been claimed to date from pre-Christian times, from the 3rd century B.C.E. to the 3rdcentury C.E. During the 9th century, Asomtavruli was gradually replaced by a more angular alphabet known as Nuskha-khutsuri, which was used until the 11th century. By the 13th century, Nuskha-khutsuri had developed into the Mkhedruli alphabet, which has been used ever since.