Re: Cuneiform Signs

From: Raymond Mercier (
Date: Thu Jun 21 2007 - 03:31:40 CDT

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    Ken Whistler writes,

    >>Please see the explanation of the Sumero-Akkadian Cuneiform encoding in
    >>Section 14.10 of the Unicode Standard, 5.0: In particular, the
    encoded repertoire "is comprehensive from the Ur III period onward." In
    other words, it represents Ur III Neo-Sumerian, as well as Old, Middle, and
    Neo-Assyrian, and so on. As such, it cannot simply reflect Neo-Assyrian
    Of course with Unicode 5 on the shelf by me I have had a look at these
    pages. The problem is that the emphasis has certainly been on glyphs from
    the earlier Ur III phase, so much so that the correspondance with the
    Neo-Assyrian signs is difficult, and sometimes impossible, to perceive. In
    fact what does "comprehensive" really mean, when the Neo-Assyrian glyphs
    are just not represented ?

    Another indication of the (over-) emphasis on the earlier period, and the
    neglect of the later, is shown in the chart in Table 14-2, where cuneiform
    usage in Babylonia would appear to cease in 539 B.C., whereas in fact it
    continued through the Persian, Seleucid, and even Roman, periods - there is
    a cuneiform tablet from A.D. 75 ! The Table 14-2 surely represents not
    cuneiform *usage* but only the pre-Persian political divisions.

    What would be most helpful for Assyriologists, it seems to me, would be if
    someone familiar both with the Unicode encoding of Sumero-Akkadian cuneiform
    characters and with the standard Neo-Assyrian sign lists in particular,
    would post up the representation of Neo-Assyrian in terms of the Unicode
    Of course that is what I began to do in the hope of using a Unicode font to
    write out texts transcribed by Pinches, Strassmaier and others. However it
    would take a while to go through the whole Unicode block in order to find
    the correct links with the signs in Labat. For each such connection one has
    to search through the Ur III forms given by Labat in order to get the right
    glyph. I attach here a few lines of such a list. I have written the U+ code
    next to the lines from Píska's list (akkixref.pdf), which is based directly
    on Labat. -But surely such a correspondance should already have been
    considered as mandatory upon those who drew up this encoding.



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