Semi-Automatic Font Design
“And you, O understanding one”……
A good example for using the abilities of modern computer technology is the vizualization of information. For example, an editor might want to use the ancient scribe’s font when presenting his or her results and reconstructions where letters or lines are missing. This is a painstaking manual work and requires a lot of skill by the editor. A first step would be to produce a digitized version of the font, using the most representative forms of the single letters. The result will already be more accurate than the usual counting of so-called letter spaces. The Haifa editorial team was able to establish a productive cooperation in order to design the fonts at the beginning of the project. Some of the results can be found below.
On the other hand, when working on a material reconstruction, there may be longer passages of a composition that are not be attested in the extant fragments of the scroll, but have to be postulated to exist in the reconstruction. An example would be the material reconstruction of 4QDa (or 4Q266): Although the scroll very likely included large portions of the text attested by the medieval Damascus Document (CD), fragments of the respective columns of 4QDa did not survive. The idea is that the system should be able to produce an “average” font of this very scroll (character shapes, correct spacing, kerning, ligatures, etc.—provided the writing is more or less consistent thoughout the whole scroll, of course), one that comes closest to what the ancient scribe produced.
Such fonts and the underlying algorithms were developed within the Scripta Qumranica Electronica project by J. Tucker, I. Kottsieper, and B. Brown-deVost. The aim is—at least for manuscripts that include an adequate number of characters—to have the computer design a scientifically exact font from the extant material, i.e., a fully automated font design. Even if manual adjustments might be needed in some cases, this will be of great help for anyone working on paleographic issues. By making use of such a tool, any suggested textual reconstruction can be made on a reliable basis and with highest possible precision. Vice versa, previous scholarly reconstructions can easily be verified with a higher degree of probability (see the example above from 4Q418).
The fonts below are published under the SIL Open Font License (OFL ).
We kindly ask you to add the following credit lines when using them:
The graphical reconstructions use the font <font name>, courtesy of the Scripta Qumranica Electronica Project, Universities of Haifa, Israel, and Göttingen, Germany, (Plus, if applicable:) Design: <font designer's name>. Licensed under the SIL Open Font License, Version 1.1. Copyright (c) 2015-2020, Scripta Qumranica Electronica (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The graphical reconstructions in this article use the font 4Q416, courtesy of the Scripta Qumranica Electronica Project, Universities of Haifa, Israel, and Göttingen, Germany, Design: Eshbal Ratzon and Einat Tamir. Licensed under the SIL Open Font License, Version 1.1. Copyright (c) 2015-2020, Scripta Qumranica Electronica (www.qumranica.org | email@example.com).
(Click on the respective font to download it.)
Fonts (click to download)
- 4Q418a (Instructione) scribal font (designed by Einat Tamir):