The Unicode Consortium has released a revised draft of encoding Egyptian hieroglyphics proposing that over 2000 Hieroglyphs may soon be available for use on cell phones, computers, and other digital devices.
The draft is the product of cooperation between the Unicode Consortium, ancient linguists, font designers, and the federal government in attempt to study, preserve, and then digitally represent ancient and endangered languages through the use of computer code, according to a report published by Brooklyn-based arts online magazine hyperallergic.
The draft showed that Egyptian hieroglyphs have evolved from a set slightly above 700 characters during most of the classical period including old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom to a much larger repertoire in the Greco-Roman period as the number of characters has multiplied to a number above 7000 which is known as ‘Ptolemaic’. It is only an assumption, however, as many of these extensions have been in use in the classical period as well.
The aim of this proposal is to ‘set the base for the encoding of the extended set’ in order to enable Egyptologists to communicate data in a unified encoding platform as each element of the extended set can be indexed in a database where additional information can be conveyed, related to the sound, semantic, sources, description, etc.
“The explosion in glyph diversity was also accompanied by an increase in the number of phonetic values that could be assigned to a single glyph, up to twenty or even more readings,” the draft said.
“All Egyptian hieroglyphs already encoded in the existing Egyptian Hieroglyphs block (U+13000..U+1342F) have been entered into the database using the new taxonomy attributes,”the document said.
Unicode has begun in 1987 to conjure a universal character set that could be understood across operating systems.