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The Wadi el-Hôl Inscription: Earlier than Serabit?
In 1993 Egyptologist John Darnell discovered in the Wadi el-Hôl near Luxor, Egypt, an alphabetic inscription similar to those at Serabit el-Khadem discussed in the accompanying article. Initially, it was thought that this inscription might be earlier than the Serabit inscriptions. If so, was the alphabet invented earlier than the Serabit inscriptions and somewhere other than Serabit, perhaps near the Wadi el-Hôl?
Although there was some early scholarly speculation that this indeed might be the case, this view has now been largely abandoned. The el-Hôl inscription is faintly carved into a limestone wall on the ancient road between Thebes and Abydos. The inscription could be read “(The) besieger עותי, ‘El’s …

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