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The Armenian Alphabet - Mesrop Mashtot's Masterpiece

Explore the rich history and cultural significance of the Armenian Alphabet, one of the world's oldest writing systems dating back to 405 AD. Learn about its creation by Mesrop Mashtots, delve into the traditional and reformed spellings, and understand its role in writing both Eastern and Western Armenian.

The Armenian Alphabet is a unique writing system developed for the Armenian language and culture. It stands as one of the oldest alphabets globally, dating back to 405 AD, credited to Mesrop Mashtots, an Armenian linguist and ecclesiastical leader. Medieval Armenian sources suggest Mashtots invented the Georgian and Caucasian Albanian alphabets around the same period.

Statues of Mesrop Mashtots and his student Koryun in front of Matenadaran

The Armenian alphabet is called "այբուբեն - aybuben". The name is derived from the first two letters, այբ (ayb).

Traditionally, the first sentence written down in Armenian by Mashtots is said to be a phrase translated from Solomon's Book of Proverbs:

Ճանաչել զիմաստութիւն եւ զխրատ, իմանալ զբանս հանճարոյ:

To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding.

— Book of Proverbs, 1:2.

The number and order of letters have evolved over time. In the Middle Ages, two new letters (օ [o], ֆ [f]) were introduced to better represent foreign sounds, increasing the count from 36 to 38. From 1922 to 1924, Soviet Armenia implemented a reformed spelling, changing the digraph ու and the ligature և into two new letters. However, those outside the Soviet sphere, including Western Armenians and Eastern Armenians in Iran, rejected the reforms, sticking to traditional Armenian orthography.

Armenian Alphabet Alley in winter. The monument includes sculptures of the 39 letters of the Armenian alphabet and monuments of Armenian greats


Beyond being a means of communication, the Armenian Alphabet serves as a symbol of identity and heritage for Armenians, reflecting their history, culture, and spirituality. It is a beautiful and expressive writing system capable of conveying complex emotions and ideas with simplicity and elegance.


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