Ancient Typography in the Digital Age

Trajan was a Roman Emperor from 98 to 117 AD. and ruled over the greatest military expansion in Roman history, leading the empire to attain its maximum territorial extent by the time of his death.

Trajan's Column, 107~113 AD, Rome, Italy, commemorates Trajan's victory. The column was originally flanked by two libraries, which may have contained Trajan's scroll-written despatches from his Roman-Dacian Wars. Filippo Coarelli suggests that such scrolls are the basis both of the column's design and its spiralling, sculpted narrative. The column shows 2,662 figures, and 155 scenes; Trajan himself appears on the column 58 times.

Below: A drawing and photographed carving of the "Trajan" capitals on the Column of Trajan made by Eric Gill in the early twentieth century.


In the 1980s, at Adobe, California, Sumner Stone wanted to expand on his earlier exploration on ITC Stone. Stone was inspired to create this font by seeing the classical lettering on the sacral buildings on the campus of Reed College. He hired Carol Twombly (yay, a woman)! to create the type by borrowing the classical lettering and adapting it for digital use. Below left, Sumner Stone. Below right, Carol Twombly.

Trajan is an all-capitals typeface as the Romans did not use lower-case letters. Here's some more on the font as well as a good article on typeface design. Below are some other places where it has been in use.