Nabataean alphabet


The Nabataean alphabet is an abjad (consonantal alphabet) that was used by the Nabataeans in the second century BC.[2][3] Important inscriptions are found in Petra (now in Jordan), the Sinai Peninsula (now part of Egypt), and other archaeological sites including Abdah (in Israel) and Mada'in Saleh in Saudi Arabia.

Nabat alaph.png Nabat bat.png Nabat gamal.png Nabat dalat.png Nabat ha.png Nabat waw.png Nabat zayin.png Nabat hha.png Nabat tta.png Nabat yat.png Nabat kaf.png Nabat lamad.png Nabat mayim.png Nabat nun.png Nabat sa.png Nabat hamza.png
Script type
Time period
2nd century BC to 4th century AD
Directionright-to-left script Edit this on Wikidata
LanguagesNabataean language
Related scripts
Parent systems
Child systems
Arabic script
ISO 15924
ISO 15924Nbat, 159 Edit this on Wikidata, ​Nabataean
Unicode alias
Final Accepted Script Proposal
Example in Nabataean alphabet
Coin of Aretas IV and Shaqilath
Nabataean Kingdom, Aretas IV and Shaqilath, 9 b. C. - 40 a. D., AE18. On the reverse, an example of Nabataean script: names of Aretas IV (1st line) and Shaqilath (2nd and 3rd line).[4][5]


The alphabet is descended from the Aramaic alphabet. In turn, a cursive form of Nabataean developed into the Arabic alphabet from the 4th century,[3] which is why Nabataean's letterforms are intermediate between the more northerly Semitic scripts (such as the Aramaic-derived Hebrew) and those of Arabic.

Tablet with the Nabataean alphabet on it.

Comparison with related scriptsEdit

As compared to other Aramaic-derived scripts, Nabataean developed more loops and ligatures, likely to increase speed of writing. The ligatures seem to have not been standardized and varied across places and time. 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
  ʾĀlap̄/ʾAlif ء ا ܐ א
  Beth/Ba بـ ب ܒ ב
  Gamal/Jim جـ ج ܓ ג
  Dalath/Dal ܕ ד
  Heh هـ ه ܗ ה
  Waw ܘ ו
  Zain ܙ ז
  Ha/Heth حـ ح ܚ ח
  Teth ܛ ט
  Yodh/Ya يـ ي ܝ י
  Kaph كـ ك ܟ כ‎ / ך
  Lamadh/Lam لـ ل ܠ ל
  Mim مـ م ܡ מ‎ / ם
  Nun نـ ن ܢ נ‎ / ן
  Simkath ܣ ס
  'E/Ain عـ ع ܥ ע
  Pe/Fa فـ ف ܦ פ‎ / ף
  Ṣāḏē/Ṣad صـ ص ܨ צ‎ / ץ
  Qoph قـ ﻕ ܩ ק
  Resh/Ra ܪ ר
  Šin/Sin ﺳ س ܫ ש
  Taw/Ta تـ ﺕ ܬ ת
  • Note that the Syriac and Arabic alphabets are always cursive and that some of their letters look different in medial or initial position.
  • See Aramaic alphabet § Letters for a more detailed 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 14.0
2.^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Himelfarb, Elizabeth J. "First Alphabet Found in Egypt", Archaeology 53, Issue 1 (Jan./Feb. 2000): 21.
  2. ^ Everson, Michael (2010-12-09). "N3969: Proposal for encoding the Nabataean script in the SMP of the UCS" (PDF). Working Group Document, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC2/WG2.
  3. ^ a b Omniglot.
  4. ^ Yaʻaḳov Meshorer, "Nabataean coins", Ahva Co-op Press, 1975; 114.
  5. ^ Numista