Is there a single, unified place where one can look up cuneiform signs for Sumerian words? Unicode now supports cuneiform, but every source I've found has only transliterations, not actual cuneiform.

For example, I'd like to find this:


instead of this:


Once again, I find myself wishing there were a sumerian.stackexchange.com.

  • 1
    The problem with almost any conventionalized database is that Sumerian texts are really three-dimensional, and any two-dimensional projection is unlikely to capture all the information in the actual tablet without using conventional signs to indicate the strokes.
    – jlawler
    Jun 5, 2013 at 21:37
  • @jlawler, it seems to me that while any given object may have writing on multiple sides, the writing itself is two-dimensional. At least, as far as I know.
    – Joe
    Jun 6, 2013 at 2:26
  • 1
    Actually, no, the writing is impressed into the (mounded loaf-shaped) bricks at various angles and with various strengths. It really takes a lot of training to read it, let alone understand it.
    – jlawler
    Jun 6, 2013 at 2:42
  • 1
    Well here is a need for the first 3D dictionary! Jun 6, 2013 at 4:23
  • 1
    @hippietrail I think there are discussions regarding spatial meaning, such as Christopher Alexander's "The Nature of Order", that are historically germane. I wish there were a way to do semasiographic searches Dec 11, 2013 at 14:41

2 Answers 2


Have you already looked at the upenn dictionary? It is at


It uses graphics instead of Unicode I think. You can send an email to Steve Tinney and ask if there is something else that might meet your needs better.


Yes, there is:


Steve Tinney at UPENN has written a tool called “Cuneify” as part of the ATF* format for encoding cuneiform texts, itself in turn part of the ORACC project:

Oracc is a collaborative effort to develop a complete corpus of cuneiform whose rich annotation and open licensing support the next generation of scholarly research. Created by Steve Tinney, Oracc is steered by Jamie Novotny, Eleanor Robson, Tinney, and Niek Veldhuis.

Cuneify may be used via a web CGI interface, such as the one available here:


If one enters the transliteration in that search box (taking care to note the all-ASCII orthography used in ATF: j for ĝ, etc), then a link like this one will be generated:


Following that link will return this:


𒆠 𒂗 𒄫

Unfortunately it appears that the source code to Cuneify itself is not open source; it’s only accessible via this web interface.

* Despite the voluminous (and good) documentation for Tinney and company’s various and sundry projects, I have not found the expansion for the acronym “ATF”! Presumably “Assyriological Text Format” or something…

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