Ancient Latin alphabet: The earliest known inscriptions in the Latin alphabet date from the 6th century BC. It was adapted from the Etruscan alphabet during the 7th century BC. the Latins finally adopted 21 of the original 26 Etruscan letters.
Roman alphabet for Latin: The Romans used just 23 letters to write Latin. The alphabet used by the Romans consisted only of capital (upper case or majuscule) letters. The lower case (minuscule) letters developed in the Middle Ages from cursive writing, first as the uncial script, and later as minuscule script. The Romans used a variety of tools for writing. Everyday writing could be done on wax tablets or thin leaves of wood. Documents, like legal contracts, were usually written in pen and ink on papyrus. Books were also written in pen and ink on papyrus or sometimes on parchment. Inscriptions were sometimes carved in stone on buildings and other monuments, like triumphal arches.
Modern Latin alphabet: The Latin alphabet spread from Italy, along with the Latin language, to the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea with the expansion of the Roman Empire. The eastern half of the Roman Empire, including Greece, Asia Minor, the Levant, and Egypt, continued to use Greek as a lingua franca, but Latin was widely spoken in the western half of the Empire, and as the western Romance languages, including Spanish, French, Catalan, Portuguese and Italian, evolved out of Latin they continued to use and adapt the Latin alphabet. With the spread of Western Christianity the Latin alphabet spread to the peoples of northern Europe who spoke Germanic languages, displacing their earlier Runic alphabets, as well as to the speakers of Baltic languages, such as Lithuanian and Latvian, and several (non-Indo-European) Finno-Ugric languages, most notably Hungarian, Finnish and Estonian. During the Middle Ages the Latin alphabet also came into use among the peoples speaking West Slavic languages, including the ancestors of modern Poles, Czechs, Croats, Slovenes, and Slovaks, as these peoples adopted Roman Catholicism; the speakers of East Slavic languages generally adopted both Orthodox Christianity and the Cyrillic alphabet.
As late as 1492, the Latin alphabet was limited primarily to the languages spoken in western, northern and central Europe. The Orthodox Christian Slavs of eastern and southern Europe mostly used the Cyrillic alphabet, and the Greek alphabet was still in use by Greek-speakers around the eastern Mediterranean. The Arabic alphabet was widespread within Islam, both among Arabs and non-Arab nations like the Iranians, Indonesians, Malays, and Turkic peoples. Most of the rest of Asia used a variety of Brahmic alphabets or the Chinese script.
The modern Latin alphabet consists of 52 letters, including both upper and lower case, plus 10 numerals, punctuation marks and a variety of other symbols. The lowercase letters developed from cursive versions of the uppercase letters. Many languages add a variety of accents to the basic letters, and a few also use extra letters and ligatures. Over the past 500 years, the Latin alphabet has spread around the world.
Further information and links: