Unicode, Fonts and Keyboards

for Linux, Macintosh and Windows

Gerfrid G.W. Müller and Charles W. Steitler

Citatio: G.G.W. Müller – Ch. W. Steitler, hethiter.net/: Unicode, Fonts & Keyboards (2021-08-09)


All letters and special characters, which are especially necessary for the transliteration of cuneiform texts, can now be written with Unicode in an unambiguos fashion, without annoying recoding during data exchange. This method was initially slow to spread in the field of cuneiform philology. In the meantime, the Internet and globalization have forced international standards that allow data exchange between all countries and operating systems.


Gerfrid G.W. Müller developed a Unicode-compatible font for HPM, which became available as Semiramis 0.4 in 2004. In 2006 the more extensive font Semiramis Unicode was released, whose characters are now almost all part of the standard repertoire of the large standard fonts of various operating systems. In 2008, a new Unicode version was released that defined code numbers for some characters for which Semiramis needed temporary solutions, e.g. half brackets for marking damaged characters or letters for transcribing Egyptian. Since Semiramis Unicode was no longer standard-compliant, its successor, SemiramisUnic2, was created (2013), but it too had to make compromises, e.g. predefined letters for the combinations u̯ and i̯ (located in the individually definable area of Unicode).

Within the new academy project, Corpus der hethitischen Festrituale (HFR), a third (and final) version of Semiramis Unicode (SemiramisUnic3) was developed that makes exclusive use of Unicode characters and has been extended to include or unify other characters frequently used in cuneiform philology (e.g. the single and double gloss wedge(s) (Glossenkeile) 𒀹 𒑱 , the character PAB 𒉽, top half brackets ⸢ ⸣, as well as pointed brackets 〈 〉). This guarantees the functionality of Semiramis Unicode and its compatibility with other Unicode fonts. Even though no further development of SemiramisUnic3 is planned, Semiramis Unicode will probably not become obsolete for a long time.

HPM Linux Fonts

A new font package has been developed to meet the requirements of the Hethitologie Portal as well as the print and online publications of HFR. The basis for this were the font packages Linux Libertine and Linux Biolinum; these were adapted to the needs of HPM and HFR by G.G.W. Müller and are now freely accessible as HPM Linux Libertine O (as True Type Font [.ttf]) and HPM Linux Biolinum O (as True Type Font and Web Open Font Format [.woff]). These font packages replace the SemiramisUnicode fonts.


In order to spare the user tedious technical work, we offer various hints and files for easy entry of Unicode characters. The great advantage of keyboard level customization over macros in a program is undoubtedly that the characters can be used in all programs and also, for example, in search masks in word processing programs, in Internet browsers, databases and spreadsheets, and so on. Special keyboard layouts have been developed for Linux, Windows, and Max OSX operating systems. The American and Swiss-German layouts for Windows were provided by Alfredo Rizza.

Deprecated Fonts

The use of the fonts Semiramis and SemiUnic2 is no longer recommended. However, they have been made available for download here solely for the purpose of utilization and/or further processing of older files.


Gerfrid G.W. Müller