Numidian language

Numidian, also known as Old Libyan or Libyan, was a language spoken in ancient Numidia and Roman North Africa. Although the script in which it was written, Libyco-Berber (from which Tifinagh descended), has been almost fully deciphered, the language has not. Libyco-Berber inscriptions are attested from the 3rd century BC to the 3rd century AD. The language is scarcely attested and can be confidently identified only as belonging to the Afroasiatic family. As the Massylii, who spoke the language, were ethnically Berber,[1][2] it is supposed that Numidian was therefore a Berber language.[3] The Berber branch of Afro-Asiatic is sometimes called Libyco-Berber since it is not certain whether Numidian would fall within the modern Berber languages or form a sister branch to them. Indeed, it is widely supposed that it constitutes a group of its own, as there is no trace of the noun-case system shared by the modern Berber languages. However, Proto-Berber is theorized to have no grammatical case either.

Old Libyan
Native toancient Numidia and Africa
Era3rd century BC to the 3rd century AD
Libyco-Berber (Proto-Tifinagh)
Language codes
ISO 639-3nxm

See also


  1. Jamil M. Abun-Nasr (20 August 1987). A History of the Maghrib in the Islamic Period. Cambridge University Press. p. 15. ISBN 978-1-316-58334-0.
  2. Phillip C. Naylor (7 May 2015). Historical Dictionary of Algeria. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 132. ISBN 978-0-8108-7919-5.
  3. Steven Roger Fischer (4 April 2004). History of Writing. Reaktion Books. p. 104. ISBN 978-1-86189-588-2.
  • Aikhenvald & Militarev, 1991. 'Livijsko-guanchskie jazyki', Jazyki Azii i Afriki, vol. 4, pp. 148–266.
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