Journey through Anatolia

Journey through Anatolian Hieroglyphs

The genesis of a revival

Our work on Anatolian Hieroglyphs was initiated in late 2021 as a side project of the Tituli Anatolian and has since then progressed more through research than design work. The main reason for such a slow progress is that soon after the start of the work, we realized that the Anatolian Hieroglyphs repertoire and font practices had significant problems.

The data we had was initially quite complex. The project matured over time and our design work gained momentum. Now we knew which source to consult for the solution of which problem, and our work took firm steps forward.

“Inspection of the wealth of Hieroglyphic monuments on display showed me how inadequate their state of publication frequently was, and how the provision of more reliable texts was an urgent desideratum.” 1

J. David Hawkins

Where we are now, we would like to share both our experience in the process and the details of which hieroglyphic sign we solved which problem. The examples here are only a small part of the bigger picture that we are trying to fit into the framework.

Anatolian Hieroglyphs Revisions

About Anatolian Hieroglyphs revisions

As part of our project, we had to make many changes to the Anatolian Hieroglyphics repertoire, from minor to major. For each item in our design, we not only analysed the existing drawings, but also compared them with the referenced inscriptions. The source materials have been evaluated from the perspective of the scribe and type designer, focusing only on the visual qualities of the signs (letterforms) and their paleographic value, without delving into the linguistic field.

The issues in question

  1. Should not exist
  2. Wrong direction
  3. Hatching
  4. Various

Characters discussed

LHH IDUnicode IDCodepointCurrent State
L 106A106U+1447D1.
L 121A121U+144921.
L 137A137U+144A41.
L 158A158U+144B91.
L 159A159U+144BA1.
L 167A167U+144C21.
L 170A170U+144C51.
L 179A179U+144CE1.
L 216A216U+144F81.
L 216A216AU+144F91.
L 222A222U+144FF1.
L 295A295U+1454C1.
L 297A297U+1454E1.
L 328A328U+1456F1.
L 343A343U+145841.
L 371A371U+145A31.
L 453A453U+145FB1.
L 457A457U+145FF1.
L 466A466U+146091.
L 475A475U+146121.
L 526A526U+146421.
  • LHH: Les Hieroglyphes Hittites2
  • CHLI: Corpus of Hieroglyphic Luwian Inscriptions
  • Link 1: Noto Sans Anatolian Hieroglyphs instances on
  • Link 2: Other glyphs instances on

See below for details on the identified issues and the solutions developed as a result of our work. Those shown to the right are our typeface drawings.

Some of the drawing differences are related to our preference for incised style (late era, simplified, cursive) rather than relief style (empire era, monumental, animal crackers3) lettering.

Should not exist

Anatolian Hieroglyphs are known to have some duplicate characters and character variants with the same value that have entered the Unicode repertoire due to scholarly study requirements. Nevertheless, the rationale behind including the following items in the Laroche list is open to question.

L 167

It is clear that this sign is identical to the hieroglyph of a truncated horned ox head (L 109, L 107) on the previous line of the inscription referred to in the drawing; another hieroglyph of an ox head with a truncated horn is broken at eye level and facing in the opposite direction. It is very thought-provoking that the part that is missing is made complete by the symmetry of the intact part. This appears to be an unfounded completion.

Anatolian Hieroglyphs A167 - on CHLI1-P3-A14b

More than half of the ox head is missing, but, eye, ear, horn base and three of the four line markings on its cheek remain intact. Hawkins’ general drawing of the inscription makes this clear. The Meriggi drawing referenced in the LHH shows the mark with half of it missing, while another reference, the Hrozný drawing, is inaccurate, possibly misleading Laroche as well.

Anatolian Hieroglyphs A167

Since leaving the sign missing would technically result in an incomplete font, it has been added as in the Unicode table.

L 222

See the “Hatching” group below.

L 453

The cloud-like shape, which is not visible when looking at the whole inscription stone block, becomes visible when looking at the cut piece corresponding to the right corner of the photograph. Looking at the inscription drawing, it seems unlikely that there is such a shape on the line at the junction. Unless another instance can be cited as proof, it must be assumed that no such character exists.

Anatolian Hieroglyphs A453

The drawing on the right is in the font.

Wrong direction

Most of the inscriptions containing Anatolian Hieroglyphs are written in Boustrophedon direction and line order. The term Boustrophedon originates from the Greek language and refers to the path that oxen take when plowing a field. In short, Anatolian Hieroglyphs can be written from left to right or right to left. At the end of a line, a U-turn is made to the next line and the direction of the next line is changed. Direction of the writing graphically characterized by the direction of the characters.

“It is to be noted that all the pictures of human beings and animals face toward the beginning of the line, also the feet walk in that direction, and the hands are stretched out so as to point that way.”4

The handwriting or typesetting of hieroglyphs in transliterations is done from left to right, as in Latin scripts, and this requires the characters to face left, towards the beginning of the line.

In Anatolian Hieroglyphic inscriptions, the direction in which the characters face is so important that even characters that are supposed to be symmetrical can be simply distorted to emphasize the direction. Examples such as adding a curve to the end of a vertical line in one direction or a symmetrical sign with its end inclined in one direction are common.

L 137

See the “Various” group below.

L 328

In the extant Anatolian Hieroglyphs fonts, the dashed part of this character is reversed.

Anatolian Hieroglyphs A328


It is interesting to note the remarkable repetition of hatching lines on several of the characters in the Anatolian Hieroglyphs fonts. These lines and hatchings or similar markings certainly have their function in linguistic communication or epigraphy and are common in epigraphic syntax (see diplomatic vs normalized transcription), but their presence in fonts should be counted redundant. “Redundant” here, means that they are reduntant on the font production aimed drawings.

We have removed these flaw marks looking like zebra crossing in our own work, but this is optional for users who want to see the previous version. The corresponding characters in our Anatolian Hieroglyphs font are available as Stylistic Set OpenType feature.

L 159

According to examples in the reference inscription and in other inscriptions bearing the same sign, it appears to be misdrawn. The drawing in the LHH is also incorrect. The detail of the hatching lines at the top has been removed as they represent flaws on the surface of the stone and not part of the sign.

Anatolian Hieroglyphs A159

L 170

There are no lines or patterns on the head of the reference inscription. The lines here were removed as they were considered to be nothing more than damage markings. Marazzi have been decided that the character was completely unnecessary, noting that 170 = 173. “Redundant” hatching lines begin with the Meriggi drawing.

Anatolian Hieroglyphs A170

L 222

The scans at the end of the mark on the reference inscription are from a fracture in the stone surface. They are not an extension or part of the mark. They should have been removed, we thought.

Karkamış A12 inscription, fragment 11 detail
L 222 detail from Fragment 11 of Karkamış A12 inscription plate in Leonard Woolley, T. E. Lawrence, D. G. Hogarth (1914). Carchemish, Report on the excavations at Djerabis on behalf of the British museum.
Anatolian Hieroglyphs A222

It should also be noted that these scans led to a duplicate inclusion in the repertoire. Typically, it could be argued that it should be seen as a variant of L 221 and not added to the repertoire at all.

L 295

A ligature of a bird sitting on a throne character (L 294, 294A), showing only the tail and feet. The lines seem to have been added with the idea that “there was a continuation, but it was erased”, but they can also be perceived as part of the character, in this case the body of the bird. The lines have been removed.

Anatolian Hieroglyphs A295

L 457

Diagonal lines are drawn under the seal. There is a variant in LHH without hatching lines, but it is already defined as a separate character (457A). We have removed the lines under the seal as they suggest a stamp.

Anatolian Hieroglyphs A457

L 526

In this character we see an example of a drawing that marks the damaged end of the sign using dots instead of hatching lines. We have removed the part marked with dots.

Anatolian Hieroglyphs A526


L 106

The character drawing was adapted to its original appearance in the reference inscriptions by changing the animal type and removing the notched lines.

Topada inscription detail
L 106 on Topada inscription

L 121

This character is a representation of a sphinx. The sphinx should have a human face and be facing forward, rather than a winged lion facing backward. It has a lion body and a human head now.

L 137

The most obscure and perhaps one of the lowest-frequency inscriptional character in the repertoire of Anatolian hieroglyphs.

It was redrawn based on photographs of the inscription 5 where the shape is most prominent. The relief sign on the referenced inscription is still not very clear, but the shape Laroche perceived as a bird (Oiseau?) is closer to the Meriggi and Masson drawings than what now looks like a crocodile’s head.

It is also observed that this character is drawn facing the opposite direction in existing fonts.

L 158

The character was revised based on the drawings of the figure in the original Yazılıkaya Kulitta relief.

Anatolian Hieroglyphs A158

L 179

The character has been stripped of the look of Ghosts from Pac-man video game and brought closer to the drawing in the referenced Assur letters (e 3).

Anatolian Hieroglyphs A179

L 216/216A

Instead of the relief (monumental) form, the more common variant, the incised (cursive) form has been used.

Anatolian Hieroglyphs A216
Anatolian Hieroglyphs A216A

L 297

It was adapted to the ligature drawing in the Emirgazi inscriptions shown as a reference. Accordingly, instead of the conjoined double DEUS symbol on the throne, the ligature was drawn with DEUS (L 360) on top and MONS (207) underneath.

Anatolian Hieroglyphs A297

Also see below, a close-up details from the computer screen while studying Emirgazi altar materials on Hatice Gonnet-Bağana archive. 6 The archive also contains a substantial number of photographic images of the subject in question.

Emirgazi altar drawing photo detail on the screen
Detail from “Illustration of the Emirgazi altar D” in Hatice Gonnet-Bağana, Hittite Collection (2015) by Koç University Digital Collections

L 343

The LHH drawing resembles a ligature of two different characters placed one on top of the other, although it is not clear what the bottom piece is. The Hawkins drawings for the reference inscription and the one in the photograph are one piece, and which suggests that this is the correct version.

Anatolian Hieroglyphs A343

L 371

Laroche’s LHH drawing closely resembles the referenced inscriptions, but it is worth noting that the character of the actual fonts resembles an ancient kithara rather than a seal sign. The incised character shown in the referenced drawings has been selected and redrawn.

Anatolian Hieroglyphs A371

L 466

The depicted shape is rectangular with two indistinct spikes on each side. It contains spots in the shape of a small triangle and a small circle. While their meaning (how could they possibly be there?) is uncertain, they do not represent a defining feature of the sign. It is almost identical in Laroche LHH and Meriggi’s drawing, but these spots are not present on the referenced inscription. The drawing has been updated accordingly.

Anatolian Hieroglyphs A466

L 475

The character in question would have an additional knuckle at the top if it had been carved on a different line of the stone. It appears that in the reference inscription, the tightness of the line caused it to be left incomplete (end of line 2 of KARKAMIŠ A 6). Laroche’s drawing vaguely shows this end. We have completed it, and the incomplete version is also available in the font as a Stylistic Set OpenType feature.

Anatolian Hieroglyphs A475


  1. From the title “The Genesis of the Corpus” in the preface. J. David Hawkins (2000). Corpus of Hieroglyphic Luwian Inscriptions, Vol 1, Inscriptions of the Iron Age. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin ↩︎
  2. Emmanuel Laroche (1960). Les hiéroglyphes hittites. Éditions du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Paris ↩︎
  3. An analogy from Michael Everson (in Unicode meeting doc N4353, p.56) ↩︎
  4. Johannes Friedrich (1932). Extinct languages (Kleinasiatische Sprachdenkmäler), p.5. Dorset, 1993 ↩︎
  5. See the 1B photographs on the Hittite Monuments web site’s Emirgazi Altars page. ↩︎
  6. Emirgazi search in Hatice Gonnet-Bağana, Hittite Collection (2015), Koç University Digital Collections. ↩︎
  7. For a comprehensive bibliography, please refer to our “Hieroglyphic Luwian fonts” post and Bibliography page.

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