An Epigraphy of the Los Lunas Inscription

The first step in deciphering the Los Lunas Inscription was to identify the letters. Native American Indians in the New Mexico area never developed a character-based alphabet. They were mainly carving petroglyphs on rock surfaces. These are quite different and are more like little pictographic drawings than writings. The inscription itself was done in old-Hebrew or Phoenician letters, as can be seen from the following character chart:

alphabetic chart

The approach taken for identifying the letters was to look elsewhere for comparable character-based known inscriptions. The closest matching writing samples are Phoenician, Moabite and old-Hebrew monumental inscriptions from the far away Mediterranean Middle East. The modern western Latin-based character set alphabets are ultimately derived from the ancient Phoenician alphabet. The old Hebrew alphabet was virtually identical with the mid-Phoenician alphabet from the tenth to sixth century B.C.E.. It was only after the Jewish return from the Babylonian exile in 539 B.C.E. that their scribes started to develop their own script known as square-Hebrew, even though some old-Hebrew writings continued to be produced till the early Roman era.

Some of the known Middle Eastern carved inscriptions which bear a resemblence to the Los Lunas inscription style are those from the Eshmunazar Sarcophagus, Jewish Seals, the Nerab Stelae or the Bar Rakab Inscription.

The Los Lunas letters are mostly vertically or horizontally aligned, without going beneath their baseline, while their Middle Eastern counterparts tend to be more diagonally stretched, including droppings below their baseline. For more information on the meaning of the Middle Eastern Phoenician letters see "".