Egyptian Hieroglyphics

Assembling some text


Imagine the quadrangle entrance to the Department of Antiquities of a university displaying a sign like the following for their Ancient Egyptian course:


Some random glyphs, except for ‘abcd’ in the middle, and ‘MikTeX’ in the bottom right-hand corner.

Done with the ‘Noto Sans Egyptian Hieroglyphs’ font (free from Google, along with hundreds of other fonts) and, for Latex/Xetex: (a) the \pmglyph command from the hieroglf package, with the package lightly modified to add (for the moment, some) named aliases for the font glyphs (easier to do it this way, using Xetex and Unicode Truetype fonts, instead of special fonts with customised mappings), with the \pmglyph command able to do its own internal stacking and re-sizing of glyphs; (b) the \raisebox command, a built-in TeX command I think, for lifting a box of anything above (or pushing below) its usual position on the baseline, so as to arrange things in an aesthetically pleasing manner; (c) the \resizebox command from the graphicx package, to scale things up (and down, if needed), likewise for aesthetic reasons; (d) the \Shortstack command from the stackengine pckage, for stacking things on top of each other (as in this case; stackengine also has commands for stacking things under each other); and (e) the \color command from the xcolor package.

Unicode glyphs for Egyptian Hieroglyphs


\resizebox{!}{7em}{{\color{blue} \eh \HAxli }}
{\eh \huge \Shortstack[c]{{\HCxxiv} {\HAxii} {\HAi}}}
{\eh \Shortstack[c]{{\pmglyph{a}} {\raisebox{1.2em}{\pmglyph{c}}}}}
{\eh \Shortstack[c]{{\pmglyph{b}} {\raisebox{1.2em}{\pmglyph{d}}}}}
\resizebox{!}{4.8em}{{\color{blue} \eh \HAxlii }} {\pmglyph{m-i:k}{\pmglyph{t:e:k}}}

with \eh being defined via the fontspec package’s \newfontface command:

\newfontface\eh{Noto Sans Egyptian Hieroglyphs}


Typesetting Adventures


Typing characters that are not on the standard keyboard can be done if you are willing and able to: (a) create your own custom keyboard layouts; or (b) wait for someone else to (for a fee) upgrade and enhance their word processor program to cater for the new characters; or (c) use Latex (in particular, xelatex) and define your own mnemonic macros and then use them in your essay/report/thesis/paper.



And macros within macros, to your heart’s content.


Here’s an example tex document, showing how the image snippet at the start was created. (You’ll need Noto Sans Ugaritic font, or similar, to display the Ugaritic characters – they are in Unicode).










\newcommand\ugafontf{MPH 2B Damase}

\newcommand\ugafontg{Noto Sans Ugaritic}













































\newcommand\ugaritic[3]{% font size text

{#1 #2 #3}






































\ualpa \ %

\ubeta \ %

\ugamla \ %

\ukha \ %

\udelta \ %

\uho \ %

\uwo \ %

\uzeta \ %

\uhota \ %

\utet \ %

\uyod \ %

\ukaf \ %

\ushin \ %

\ulamda \ %

\umem \ %

\udhal \ %

\unun \ %

\uzu \ %

\usamka \ %

\uain \ %

\upu \ %

\usade \ %

\uqopa \ %

\urasha \ %

\uthanna \ %

\ughain \ %

\uto \ %

\ui \ %

\uu \ %

\ussu \ %

\uws \ %



\ugaritic{\ugh}{\large}{#1} (%

\textit{\utransltit{#1}}) %



\title{Ugaritic Script}


\date{11 November 2017: Saturday 11:30pm}





Ugaritic script, {\uga πŽ€πŽπŽ‚πŽƒπŽ„πŽ…πŽ†πŽ‡πŽˆπŽ‰πŽŠπŽ‹πŽŒπŽπŽŽπŽ}, is in Unicode. Fonts covering the Ugaritic Unicode range are: Aegean, Andagii, Code2003, FreeSans, K1FS (same shape and size as FreeSans), MPH 2B Damase, Noto Sans Ugaritic,and Quivira.

\par Using {\ugaritic{\ugb}{}{\UgariticName}} (\textit{\utransltit{\UgariticName}}) as sample text:


\par\noindent \ugaritic{\uga}{\utextsize}{\UgariticName} Aegean,

\par\noindent \ugaritic{\ugb}{\utextsize}{\UgariticName} Andagii,

\par\noindent \ugaritic{\ugc}{\utextsize}{\UgariticName} Code2003,

\par\noindent \ugaritic{\ugd}{\utextsize}{\UgariticName} FreeSans,

%\par\noindent \ugaritic{\uge}{\utextsize}{\UgariticName} K1FS,

\par\noindent \ugaritic{\ugf}{\utextsize}{\UgariticName} MPH 2B Damase,
\par\noindent \ugaritic{\ugg}{\utextsize}{\UgariticName} Noto Sans Ugaritic,
\par\noindent \ugaritic{\ugh}{\utextsize}{\UgariticName} and Quivira.

\section{The Alphabet}
\par \ugaritic{\ugf}{\large}{\ugalphabet}

\par \textit{\utransltit{\ugalphabet}}

\par \utexttrans{\UgariticName}

\par xxx xxx xxx


Note that the bulk code and long lists were copy-pasted from Excel, being created using the CONCATENATE function to build up strings from substrings. No use (mis)typing miles of coding if a click or two is available.



LaTeX, treasure cave

Have discovered the joys of typesetting. Specifically, the XeLaTeX incarnation of LaTeX: it can understand Unicode, and can access any fonts installed on the system. Plus its code is expandable, and user-written packages extend its functionality and abilities.

Latex et al. (the tex part is from Greek τέχνη, techne, “art, skill, craft”, meaning both skill of mind and skill of hand) has maths typesetting at its core.



Using suitable packages if required (and there are thousands), you can do papers on more maths:




(and even, on the Arts Faculty side, smugcat)




Chess games (of course), step-by-step




There are a whole bunch of linguistics-related packages.

For syntax trees and glosses:


Glosses in other scripts:


Playful stuff:




And so on.


(As an aside, learning cuneiform must have taken ages at school, not to mention if you were Babylonian and had to go to Ancient Sumerian classes!)

There’s a package called manuscript, designed for emulating the old-style typewriter-written theses, which must have been written for LaTeX in the old days, I think. Now, with XeLaTeX, with its access to any and all installed fonts, one line of code (selecting a typewriter font) is all that is needed for emulating an old-style thesis.

Well, almost. Using the underline command, produces a nice, typeset line, which contrasts with the font (Urania Czech, in this case):



But with the old typewriters, you could backspace, and use the _ key (or the X key for typing errors, before liquid paper was invented):



And of course, some typewriter ribbons were red-and-black (never found out what the red ink was used for).


Lots of fun.





Addendum 27-Aug-2017: corrected spelling to: XeLaTeX.