The University of Texas at Austin

Photography - Campus Scenes  RSS

  • You must have JavaScript enabled and the Flash 8 plugin installed to view this content.

    Get Adobe Flash Player
    Consult your browser's help file for instructions to enable JavaScript.

    Campus & Community

    The Tower’s ancient alphabets

    By Marsha Miller
    Marsha Miller
    Published: Sept. 3, 2010

    When then-Harvard University Professor John Huehnergard and his wife and colleague Jo Ann Hackett first visited The University of Texas at Austin last spring, they couldn’t help but notice the ancient Phoenician and Hebrew letters that adorn the Tower. After all, Hackett, a Hebrew scholar, and Huehnergard, who teaches Semitic linguistics and writing systems, have a natural curiosity for language.

    Upon closer inspection, they discovered what generations of students have seen: five different gold-leafed alphabets — Egyptian hieroglyphics (although technically not considered an alphabet), Phoenician, Hebrew, Greek and Latin — totaling 113 letters on the 73-year-old building.

    When the couple joined The University of Texas at Austin’s Department of Middle Eastern Studies in fall 2009, Huehnergard began to think about the letters again.

    In this photo slideshow, Professor Huehnergard describes the letters that appear on the university’s Tower.

    Comments disabled No Comments
    • Quote 2
      Julee Isaac said on Sept. 14, 2010 at 3:14 p.m.
      I couldn't help but wonder why these lovely letters are being allowed to deteriorate. Could something be done? (Perhaps I don't see the big picture,)
    • Quote 2
      Patrick J. Carroll said on Sept. 6, 2010 at 11:57 a.m.
      I enjoyed the story of the writing systems on the UT Tower. I've wondered about their origin for a long time. I have only a little quibble about a single word. You show Egyptian hieroglyphics as appearing prior to the 4th Century BC. This is correct, but I suspect it is not what you intended to write. The Egyptian hieroglyphics appeared (by most accounts) shortly after the Sumerian cuneiform script in the 5th MILLENNIUM BC. Changing "century" to "millennium" gives coherence to your illustration of the tower with the writing systems "in chronological order." The same error occurs in your slideshow. Details aside, thanks for the interesting bit of UT history!
    Share:
    • Digg
    • del.icio.us
    • StumbleUpon
    • Facebook
    • Google Bookmarks
    • LinkedIn
    • Twitter
    • Print
    • email

    Related Topics

    , , , , , , , , , , ,

    More Campus Scenes   

    • Newer Videos
    • The Tower’s ancient alphabets
    • A walk on the wild side
    • Shakespeare at Winedale celebrates 40 years
    • In good hands with Santos Rodriguez
    • Faces of the West Mall
    • Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)
    • Older Posts
  • More Slideshows

    • ...
    Longhorn Halloween
    Longhorn Halloween
    Thousands of children attended the 2009 Longhorn Halloween at the Frank Erwin Center...
    Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)
    Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)
    El Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is celebrated over two days (Nov. 1-2) by...
    Professor studies the cancer/ obesity connection
    Professor studies the cancer/ obesity connection
    Professor of Nutrition Dr. Stephen Hursting discusses the link between obesity and...
    Slideshow: A summer in Nigeria
    Slideshow: A summer in Nigeria
    Student Benjamin Durham shares his experiences studying the Yoruba language as part...
    Freshman Reading Round-Up
    Freshman Reading Round-Up
    Across campus on the day before fall classes begin, professors and freshmen gather...
    Barbara Jordan statue unveiling ceremony
    Barbara Jordan statue unveiling ceremony
    A bronze statue of civil rights champion Barbara Jordan was unveiled on The University...
    UT Remembers 2009
    UT Remembers 2009
    Each year in May, UT Remembers is observed. It is a day ceremonies to honor those...
    Slideshow: Behind the scenes at the Democratic debate
    Slideshow: Behind the scenes at the Democratic debate
    Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama participated in a Democratic presidential...