Armenian Alphabet


The Armenian alphabet was developed around 405 AD by Mesrop Mashtots, an Armenian linguist and ecclesiastical leader. It has hardly changed since those times. In the XII century the alphabet got 2 new letters: Օ and Ֆ and now it includes 38 letters (30 consonants and 8 vowels). It has been used for writing Armenian.

The story of the creation of the Armenian alphabet is relatively well-known to us. Several sources have survived since those times. The main one is “Life of Mesrop Mashtots” written in the 40s of the V century. Another popular source is “History of Armenia” created by Movses Khorenatsi in the 480-490s. Also in the Early Middle Ages several books were created, for example, “Story about Saint Isaac the Great and Saint Mesrop Mashtots”.

It is not clear whether the Armenians had a written language before Mashtots's alphabet or they didn't. In 301 AD Christianity had become the state religion. However, all Bibles were written in Greek and Aramaic. It was one of the reasons why the national writing system was to be established.

Following the order of the King Vramshapuh, Mesrop Mashtots set out to Mesopotamia to learn different writing systems. It was believed that the journey would lead to the invention of the “Armenian letters“. And it did, although the exploration took Mesrop a year.

It is not known exactly whether any alphabet was taken as a basis, and if so, which one. There is a version that Mashtots used ancient Armenian letters that have not survived to our days.