Cuneiform for Unicode - Request for Comments

From: Dean Snyder (
Date: Tue Oct 21 2003 - 21:43:22 CST

The Initiative for Cuneiform Encoding has just posted preliminary data
associated with its proposal for the encoding of Sumero-Akakdian
cuneiform in Unicode. Details can be found at <

The sign lists published there represent an historic merging of two major
unpublished cuneiform sign lists:
1) The Pennsylvania Sign List, representing in turn the unification of
several historically significant cuneiform sign lists, including those of
Dr. Miguel Civil, Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, Dr. Robert
Englund, UCLA, and his colleagues at the Cuneiform Digital Library
Initiative, and Dr. Steve Tinney, University of Pennsylvania,
Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary.

2) And the forthcoming Mesopotamisches Zeichenlexikon by Dr. Rykle
Borger, Georg-August-Universität, Goettingen, the third edition of his
sign list in preparation for over 10 years. MZL is expected to be out in
Winter 2003-2004.

In addition, we are consulting the standard printed sign lists of Fossey,
Deimel, Labat, von Soden, Ruester & Neu, Steve, et al.

Those interested in making comments, suggestions, and corrections are
encouraged to join, if you haven't already, the cuneiform email list
hosted by the Unicode Consortium. Just send an email to
"" with "subscribe cuneiform" in the subject line.

Our initial encoding proposal will be presented to the Unicode Technical
Committee November 3 & 4, 2003, during its international conference being
hosted at Johns Hopkins University by the Digital Hammurabi Project. Over
the next several months we plan to finesse this initial proposal before
making our final proposal to Unicode in the Spring of 2004.

We are attempting to encode all graphemically contrastive, complex, but
not compound, Sumero-Akkadian cuneiform signs beginning with the URIII
period, including signs used for writing Sumerian, Akkadian, Hittite,
Hurrian, and Elamite. For various reasons the archaic period scripts will
be added to Unicode later.
Along with many other contributors, much thanks, in particular, are due
the members of the ICE2 working group:

Dr. Miguel Civil, Oriental Institute, Univ. Chicago
Dr. Jerrold Cooper, Johns Hopkins University
Dr. Karljürgen Feuerherm, Wilfrid Laurier Univ.
Dr. Madeleine Fitzgerald, UCLA
Dr. Eckart Frahm, Yale Univ.
Cale Johnson, UCLA
Dr. Matthew Stolper, Oriental Institute, Univ. Chicago
Dr. Steve Tinney, Univ. Pennsylvania
Dr. Kenneth Whistler, Unicode Consortium


Dean A. Snyder
Scholarly Technology Specialist
Library Digital Programs, Sheridan Libraries
Garrett Room, MSE Library, 3400 N. Charles St.
Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21218

office: 410 516-6850 mobile: 410 245-7168 fax: 410-516-6229
Manager, Digital Hammurabi Project:

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