For an unknown reason maybe because of the frequent use of papyrus instead of clay the citizens of the city of Byblos in Fenicia (in current Lebanon) invented an alphabetic script system around the 12th century. They abandoned the cuneiform script and used italic signs, 22 characters in total, of which the most denoted consonants. It was written from left to right and is the origin of the Greek and Latin alphabets. The Fenician alphabet was unprecedentedly widespread. Samples of Fenician have been found on Cyprus, Sicily, Sardinia and in North Africa.