Can you recommend books on the writing systems that are not widely used today (e.g. the Germanic runes, the Old Turkic script)?

  • 4
    I strongly recommend The World's Writing Systems (Oxford University Press, 1996), almost a thousand pages!
    – Alex B.
    Commented Aug 26, 2021 at 15:03
  • I second that, The World's Writing Systems (Oxford University Press, 1996), edited by Peter T. Daniels and William Bright is a must-read and a must-have.
    – Yellow Sky
    Commented Aug 26, 2021 at 15:32

2 Answers 2


If you can read German, I strongly recommend Hans Jensen, Die Schrift in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart, VEB Deutscher Verlag der Wissenschaften 1969.

It is not the most recent book available but it has the big advantage of being completely bullshit-free when it comes to Nordic Runes. It states that the shapes of the letters there are a consequence of the writing technique—scratching in wood causes strokes parallel to the structure of the wood to disappear. No invocation of Rune magic.


There are many excellent books on the Turkic Runic script in Russian.
For example:

The two fundamental books by Sergey Malov (1880–1957), a great Russian Turkologist, a brilliant expert on Turkic Runes, whose works laid the ground for Turkic Runes studies:
• Памятники древнетюркской письменности. Тексты и исследования [1951, Малов С.Е.] (Monuments of Ancient Turkic script. Texts and studies)
• Енисейская письменность тюрков. Тексты и переводы [1952, Малов С.Е.] (Yeniseian Turkic script. Texts and translations)

A couple of books by Igor Kyzlasov, Ph.D., a historian and archaeologist:
• Рунические письменности евразийских степей [1994, Кызласов И.Л.] (Runic scripts of Eurasian steppes)
• Енисейская письменность Древнехакасского государства. Рассказы археолога [2017, Кызласов И.Л.] (Yeniseian script of the Ancient Khakas state. Archeologist's tales)

A summary of everything Turkic Runic:
• Тюркская руника. Происхождение древнейшей письменности тюрок, границы ее распространения и особенности использования [2001, Щербак А.М.] (Turkic Runes. Origins of the Ancient Turkic script, extent of its spread, and details of its use).

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