RE: Phaistos in ConScript

From: Michael Everson (
Date: Mon Jul 08 2002 - 09:43:20 EDT

At 14:11 +0200 2002-07-08, Marco Cimarosti wrote:
>Michael Everson wrote:
>> A Unicode-enabled font based on the ConScript encoding and a test
>> page containing the entire Phaistos corpus can be found at
>I have a few notes about the repertoire:
>1. Your lacks an important sign, which I would call "PHAISTOS
>COMBINING LINE BELOW". This is the only handwritten sign on the disc; it is
>not clear whether it is some kind of diacritic (e.g. a sort of virama) or a
>punctuation sign. At any rate, it is clear that the sign has been
>deliberately written under the last signs of some groups ("words"?).

Um, can't something from General Punctuation be used, in the absence
of knowing more about this "character"? Do you have an analysis of
all the signs which take it in the document?

>2. The last sign of the tenth group ("word"?) is almost totally
>lost, due to a crack. However, it seems than none of the 45 known signs may
>fit in the gap. Many scholars consider this to be a 46th sign. The glyph
>normally used is the literature is a texture of diagonal lines.

Godart says "The last sign of set A:VIII was not deleted but broke
off with a sliver of clay. Bearing mind the space and outline of the
gap, which seems to roughtly follow the outline of the broken sign,
it seems that the most plausible identification of the mysterious
sign is a 3 [TATTOOED HEAD] or a 20 [DOLIUM], unless it is an 8
[GAUNTLET] or a 4 [CAPTIVE], which is less likely." I don't want to
encode a new character without better evidence (and wouldn't for ANY
script). I haven't seen anything from other scholars who consider it
a 46th sign.

>... about the character names:
>3. The names for E6FE and E6FF ("PHAISTOS PARAGRAPH SEPARATOR" and
>"PHAISTOS PHRASE SEPARATOR") show imprudent assumptions. E.g., many
>people consider E6FF to be a paragraph or text separator, and E6FE
>to be a word separator. It would be more prudent to use a more
>generic wording, e.g. "PHAISTOS VERTICAL LINE" and "PHAISTOS

I agree that those names aren't good. The dotted one occurs at the
beginning of the text on both sides. PHAISTOS BEGINNING OF TEXT and
VERTICAL LINE very much. That kind of description we usually reserve
for abstract technical symbols rather than punctuation.

>4. Names such as "pedestrian", "plumed head", ... "wavy band" are
>just nicknames used by scholars, as opposed to accepted identifications of
>the objects represented. It may be worth to emphasize this in the character

We either use the numbers given by the scholars, so U+E6D0 can either
we're using a scholarly designation. The meaningful nicknames are
more fun than the numeric ones....

>... and about the Everson Phaistos font:
>5. I find that mirroring the signs as you did in your font is an
>unhistorical. The whole corpus is right-to-left, and the fact that the signs
>where impressed with types makes it impossible that the signs could have
>been reversed. In academic books, it is common practice to type the disc's
>text left-to-right, but the signs are not reversed.

I have followed Egyptological -- and ancient Egyptian -- practice
here. If the script is represented right-to-left the faces point to
the right so that you read into their faces. If the script direction
is reversed so that it is left-to-right, it is conventional -- among
Egyptologists and ancient Egyptians -- to reverse the signs as well.
Godart does not reverse the glyphs even though he reverses the
directionality, but I think it is *his* practice which is
ahistorical, and I think it makes the text harder to read. And I
suspect is has to do with the font technology he had in 1994 when he
wrote his book.

>IMHO, the two characters in points 1 and 2 absolutely needed. Academic works
>which consider them as part of the script could not be encoded without them,
>while academic works which don't need them are not disturbed by their
>existence in the encoding.

I didn't think so. Any counter-arguments to the above?

I suppose this discussion could be instructive to potential
script-proposers out there... ;-)

Michael Everson *** Everson Typography ***

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