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The Lydian silver standard, which was the stater of 170 grains, was transmitted to Chalcis and Eretria, cities which, prior to the 7th century, were the most important trading communities of Greece, and had active commercial relations with the opposite Asiatic coasts.
If this hypothesis be accepted, the very ancient differences which characterize the Eastern and Western branches of the Greek alphabet receive an explanation. Another hypothesis may, however, be suggested, which I venture to think accords better with the epigraphic evidence, and also derives curious confir- mation from recent investigations into the origin of the metric systems which prevailed in Greece.^ Two standards of gold weight, and two corresponding standards for silver coins, were employed — the light, called the Euboic, or old Attic, and the heavy, which goes by the name of the Phocaic. the Ionian Greeks were in possession of a well-developed alpha- bet of considerable antiquity, which agreed in all essential respects with the Greek alphabet in its final form. The formation of this Abu Simbel alphabet, it may confidently be concluded, must have been a prolonged process ; and the two or three centuries which have sometimes been thought to be sufficient may fairly be extended, on a reasonable computation, to four or even five. They prove that at the close of the 7th century b.c.and of alphabetic writing, had finally retired from the coasts of Hellas.^ The Cadmean legend affirms that the Greeks obtained the alphabet directly from the mariners of Tyre.There is however an argument, not without weight, which seems to indicate that they acquired it, possibly at a still earlier period, through some Aramean channel.