1. Background. The Imperial Aramaic script is the head of a rather complex family of scripts. It is named from the use of Aramaic as the language of regional and supraregional correspondance in the Persian Empire though, in fact, the language was in use in this function already before that. The practice continued after the demise of the Persian Empire and was the starting-point for the writing-systems of most of the Middle Iranian languages, namely Inscriptional Parthian, Inscriptional Pahlavi, Psalter Pahlavi, Book Pahlavi, and Avestan. Imperial Aramaic has many other descendents, including Mongolian and possibly Brahmi. The term, “Imperial Aramaic”, refers both to a script and to a language. As a script term, Imperial Aramaic refers to the writing system in use in the Neo-Assyrian and Persian Empires, and was used to write Aramaic, but also other languages. There is no script code for Imperial Aramaic yet registered by ISO 15924. As a language term, Imperial Aramaic refers to a historic variety of Aramaic, as spoken and written during the period roughly from 600 BCE to 200 BCE. The Imperial Aramaic language has been given the ISO 639 language code in “arc”. The earliest Aramaic language texts were written in the Early Aramaic alphabet, one of the forms of early Western Semitic writing or old Canaanite script, which also included the Phoenician alphabet of th
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