The Old Negev Script & Proto-Canaanite Language:
Drawing from the main geographic location of its apparent origins the term "Old Negev" script refers to unique archaic (2nd to 1st millennium BC) West Semitic inscriptions found initially on rock surfaces and pottery fragments in the region located between the boarders of Egypt, Israel and the Jordan today. Specifically, a corpus of more than 140 panels have been identified in the deserts and the steppes between the Edomite Escarpment and the Aravah of Jordan and Israel, and extending through the central Negev (Nahal Avadot, Har Karkom) and the Northern Sinai regions. A few have also been discovered in materials from Lachish, Bet Shemish, Jerusalem and Shechem. This distinctive script was first identified and classified by Brigham Young University Professor Emeritus James R. Harris, Ed. D. (Brigham Young University). He was assisted in this work by Dann W Hone M.A. (Jerusalem University College), an administrator with the Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies (Brigham Young University) and instructor of Ancient Scripture at B.Y.U. Prof. Harris's discovery was made while comparing Proto-Sinaitic, Proto-Canaanite and pre-Arabic scripts of the Arabian desert (such as Thamudic) with the Dedanite & Lihyanite-like scripts of the Negev. His materials were drawn from the Palestine, Sinai and Arabian Desert rock inscriptions discovered and published by 19th and 20th Century scholars, linguists, and explorers, and from numerous personal explorations in the region.
The content of the inscriptions along with their archaeology, time and location combine to suggest that the persons responsible for these inscriptions were a Canaanite people, speaking and writing a Canaanite language. Further researches indicate its translation to be consistent with the Proto- Canaanite language. In modern terms this language is best expressed through Biblical (Old) Hebrew transliteration/translation rather than the more recent West Semitic tongue of Arabic. Translated expressions evidence Biblical phraseology and worship indicating a close tie to early Israelite culture. Additionally, the content suggests that these people observed a covenant relationship with their God "Yah" (also referred to in the inscriptions as "EI Yah", Yahu" and "Yahh") all of which are the designation of the Hebrew and Midianite God of Israel YHWH (Jehovah) worshipped in this same area and time period.