Part 3 of a series on Martin Harris and the Anthon Transcript
(For the whole series, click here)
Before I get to my next post, I'll take some time to respond to John F. and Sanford's questions on my last one. Keep in mind that I am completely out of my depth here, and feel free to correct or add to my thoughts.
In the Martin Harris account of his visit to Professor Anthon that we have in the JS-H, he asserts that Anthon verified the letters as true characters from the "Egyptian, Chaldaic, Assyriac, and Arabic" languages. Historians have shown that Anthon had at least a rudimentary knowledge of these languages, enough to recognize the alphabets when he saw them. Let us assume that Martin Harris was correctly recalling the languages mentioned by Anthon. We should be able to see some correlations with these ancient alphabets and the JS characters. Below I will post some charts of the alphabets, so we can compare them with the "Caractors Document."
Ancient Assyrian (Akkadian) differs somewhat from modern Assyrian (Neo-Syrian). Akkadian was in use until about 750 BC, and was gradually replaced when writing began to be done on parchment, leather and papyrus rather than clay tablets. Aramaic gradually replaced the Ancient Assyrian because of the technological breakthrough in writing. It is sometimes assumed that Martin Harris meant to say "Aramaic" rather than "Arabic" in his report of Anthon's words because the Arabic language did not come into usage until after Lehi's group left for the New World, and would not have been represented on the plates. Arabic is descended from Aramaic and first appeared about 512 AD.
Now, here again is the "Caractors Document:"
Do you see any correlations here? I don't. It's especially disappointing to see the lack of similarity to Egyptian. In his 1834 letter to E.B. Howe, Anthon denied that the characters he saw included Egyptian, but rather wrote that he saw "Greek and Hebrew letters, crosses and flourishes, Roman letters inverted or placed sideways..." Doesn't this seem more descriptive of the characters to you?? (See especially Greek letters alpha, eta, lambda, tau, and upsilon.)
This post is intended to be a simplistic view of the alphabets as discussed by the major players in the Anthon drama. Other authors have gone into further depth on the relation of the characters to different scripts.  I do indeed have a working theory as to how the assertions of Martin Harris came about, but there are a few more points to cover before I get into my conclusions.
 Here are only a few samples the many which are available on line.
Ariel L. Crowley, The Anthon Transcript: A Series of Articles in
The Improvement Era, Jan. - Mar., 1942.
Russell Littlecreek, Evidence for Reformed Egyptian. This is really cool. Click on the letters in the "Caractors Document" and you are taken to a possible corresponding Egyptian Hieratic or Hieroglyph. (Keep in mind as you do this that Professor Anthon would not have had complete knowledge of all these characters.)
John Gee, Some Notes on the Anthon Transcript:Review of Stan and Polly Johnson. Translating the Anthon Transcript.
Stanley B. Kimball, A Visit With Dr. Hayes, Sunstone, July 2002, pp. 12-13
Richard Stout, A Singular Discovery: The Curious Manuscript, Mitchill, and Mormonism. (scroll down and read about the close resemblance between the "Caractors" and Tironian notes!)