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Athena Ruby Inscription Font

Dumbarton Oaks is pleased to provide a single, comprehensive font for use in the scholarly publication of Byzantine inscriptions. The font, called Athena Ruby, is an OpenType, Unicode-compliant font, and therefore compatible with all major operating systems. Winner of the 2013 Type Directors Club Design Award.
Selection of variant Greek letters in Athena Ruby


Build 018 (20 November 2015)

Version for installing on your local PC or Mac (zipped).

Version for installing on your server, for online publications (zipped). Includes four versions: ttf (web-friendly), woff, svg, and eot. It is important to have all four, because there are wide differences in the way major browsers handle specialized typography. See the CSS code on the fourth tab in the demo page.


Athena Ruby Users Manual: Comprehensive guide to the font and its use.

Database of Characters—HTML | XML: Lists all glyphs in Athena Ruby, documenting Unicode points, equivalences in older DO fonts, published examples, etc. Working draft. See comments in XML file. May take a while to load up (despite being ca. 500kb), depending on your browser. Looks best in Firefox and Opera (Mac versions tested). Some browsers (Chrome for Mac) won't even read a raw XML file. (Safari will display it if it is a local copy.) The comments in the XML file at the head list the tasks that remain to be done on this file before it can be used well.

Ancillary files of interest: XML schema | XSLT (for HTML page)

Google group for Athena Ruby: Ask a few questions, answer some, and offer tips and tricks.


Athena Ruby Palette: Webpage to allow a user to pick specific glyphs in Athena Ruby.

Ensemble of Athena Ruby characters—HTML | Adobe Acrobat | Adobe InDesign 5.5 (zipped) | MS Word (zipped): Users are welcome to modify and adapt these files as they see fit.

Examples and Tests

Demo Page of Athena Ruby: Note especially the fourth tab, which supplies the CSS code needed to make font display work with all the various major browsers. Generated by Font Squirrel, a very useful font utility.

Example of a Byzantine seal: Experimental display of a seal using Athena Ruby and character variants and discretionary ligatures.

Inscription Fonts at Dumbarton Oaks

In the early 1980s Nicolas Oikonomides developed a True Type font suitable for publishing seal inscriptions. His 1986 study, A Collection of Dated Byzantine Lead Seals, published at Dumbarton Oaks, was the first book to use this font, later named Athena. The font was groundbreaking. It featured the ligatures, abbreviations, and variant letterforms characteristic of Byzantine seals. The way the book was made was just as innovative. Oikonomides prepared the entire volume on his Apple Macintosh 512 and generated camera-ready copy on a laser printer (only recently invented), an unusual process in the mid-1980s. His goal was to give sigillographers direct control over nuances in the typography, to allow them, for instance, to choose variant letterforms and ligatures. According to Oikonomides, This new method…does away with intermediate typings and retypings of the manuscript, eliminates several proofreadings, and ultimately saves time for the scholar and money for the publishing institution while producing an affordable book of an acceptable presentation.

The appearance of the book and the font inaugurated for Dumbarton Oaks an era of sigillographic publications, most notably Studies in Byzantine Sigillography and Catalogue of Byzantine Seals, which use Athena. In the 1990s the Publications Department at Dumbarton Oaks developed other digital fonts suitable for books about numismatics and epigraphy: Grierson, Grierson Variants, Coin Art, Coin Greek, and Coin Inscription. All these fonts in both Mac and PC versions form the basis for Athena Ruby, which supplants them.

Archival material pertaining to older typography at Dumbarton Oaks is available here.

Published Studies

F. Codine and G. Sarah, "Du plomb au pixel: Transcrire les légendes des monnaies du haut Moyen Âge," Revue Numismatique 169 (2012): 261–77.

J. Kalvesmaki, "Introducing Athena Ruby, Dumbarton Oaks' New Font for Byzantine Inscriptions," in Inscriptions in Byzantium and Beyond: Methods – Projects – Case Studies, ed. A. Rhoby, Veröffentlichungen zur Byzanzforschung 38 (Vienna: Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2015), 121–26.

Type Directors Club, Typography 34 (New York, 2013), 276–77.

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