▪ writing systemwriting system used in northwestern India before about AD 500. The earliest extant inscription in Kharoṣṭhī dates from 251 BC, and the latest from the 4th–5th century AD. The system probably derived from the Aramaic alphabet while northwestern India was under Persian rule in the 5th century BC. Aramaic, however, is a Semitic alphabet of 22 consonantal letters, while Kharoṣṭhī is syllabic and has 252 separate signs for consonant and vowel combinations. A cursive script written from right to left, Kharoṣṭhī was used for commercial and calligraphic purposes. It was influenced somewhat by Brāhmī, the other Indian script of the period, which eventually superseded it.
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