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Forerunner symbols were used by the Forerunners to convey a variety of meanings. These symbols can be found on Forerunner technology and within Forerunner installations, including the Halo Array. They are also found on many pieces of Covenant technology.
The exact nature of Forerunner writing remains a mystery. The symbols are most likely logograms rather than parts of an alphabet or a syllabary. There also seems to be more dimensions to Forerunner writing than traditional methods, with individual glyphs holding multiple meanings, likely making them entirely contextual—when combined with different glyphs, a symbol might have radically different meanings, making individual glyphs pictograms or ideograms.
Other symbols found on Forerunner relics and structures are even less obvious in their meanings. They are obviously decorative in nature, but they are often larger and more elaborate in nature than their glyphs, and may depict specific shapes and forms, and may have more in common with petroglyphs than logograms.
The Forerunner glyph representing a Reclaimer is identical to the Marathon symbol, although the same symbol is seen on various places throughout Forerunner installations and constructs, including the "eye" of 343 Guilty Spark, as well as the frontal section of an Enforcer.
Mantle of Responsibility
A certain symbol has appeared numerous times throughout the Halo series in both games and books. The symbol is found mostly on Forerunner structures and devices, seemingly without a defined orientation or pattern. Despite its history and occurrences in the series, its true meaning was unknown until the release of Halo 4, in which it can be found as a Forerunner shrine to the Mantle of Responsibility. In Halo: Silentium, this symbol is called the "Eld" by the Librarian, and is said to be known as the "Treemark" to the Builder caste. It is an incredibly ancient and multi-galactic symbol for the Mantle.
The symbol is described in the book on page 181, when Dr. Halsey is compiling her data with the AI Endless Summer. While Dr. Halsey is working CPO Mendez asks her what the symbols on the screen are, Dr. Halsey replies that they are Forerunner symbols, from the ruins on Onyx, and their theoretical translations. As she continues to work Mendez then asks what a symbol means as he points at a double-lobed icon. Dr. Halsey replies that the symbol, roughly translated, means Shield World.
From this page, it can be theorized that the icon on the cover of Ghosts of Onyx, which also appears on a multitude of other Forerunner installations, could possibly be the symbol for Shield World. However, it is still possible that the symbol in the cover is separate from the one described in the book, as it is never described in great detail.
Defined types of circle symbols
Forerunners and ancilla have been known to change their sigils on some occasions; for example, the Ur-Didact changed to an "unbound" state at somepoint after his fall from grace, and the Warden Eternal's sigil gaining a second ring.
In Halo 3, a number of details about the Halo Array arise. In the Ark's Citadel, where the Prophet of Truth attempted to fire the seven Installations, each Installation is shown in detail. Each Halo has its own hologram showing its structure and status, as well as a holographic symbol identifying each Installation.
If the installation's fail safe protocol is activated, when the installations are all in communication the symbols all come back as white. In the case an installation is destroyed or contact is fully lost with it, the symbol used to describe it is red as shown with Installation 04.
Round symbol Analysis
The symbols are primarily composed of circles and curves. Each glyph appears to use a circle as a base shape, often combined with either a concentric circle or fragments of one. Another common trait is the presence of one or more circular arcs whose osculating circles' centers lie on the base circle. Non-circular arcs and small non-concentric circles can be seen on some glyphs. The filling in of areas is uncommon but has been seen in Forerunner glyphs.
According to Bungie employee Joseph Staten, the blue and red signs denote the safety of the area—that is, whether or not the Flood are there.[verification needed] However, this has only been noted when there are two red symbols together. As singular red symbols can mean something else as noted by them appearing in numerous locations on Installation 04 not linked to the Flood.
Cropped Symbols Analysis
Several of the symbols are variations of each other. There are a total of 16 unique symbols; the other 8 are rotations or croppings of the 16 main symbols. Of note is the fact that the cropped versions may not have been intended to be cropped; their in-game textures may have been inadvertently placed such that they extended beyond the edges of the polygons they were on, causing the parts that couldn't fit to be clipped. For sake of being thorough, however, they have been included as separate symbols.
Notice than the symbol on Installation 04's hologram (Alpha Halo) is exactly the same shown in Halo Reach Plasma Grenade Version.
Iris and Iris-like glyphs
While the Forerunner Language remains a mystery, with only two words known, the writing system they used to convey meaning is far better understood. The Forerunners appear to have used two different writing methods; the first was a system of glyphs, highly contextual in nature, with the meaning of different glyphs altered by order and context, and further meaning could be derived if the reader used more three-dimensional interpretations. The second mode seems to be a more conventional writing system, using two-dimensional characters written vertically. While the glyph system is common to Forerunner relics, the writing system seems to have been used far less frequently, and the only known examples of its use have all been found on Forerunner relics on Installation 00, either inscribed onto stone relics or in holographic form
The glyph system has been adopted by the Covenant as religious symbols, and was also used as the basis for their own scripts, despite having little idea as to the true meanings of the original symbols. Humans in general have had little success in translating Forerunner texts, with the notable exception of Doctor Catherine Halsey. There is a possibility that this writing system isn't the Forerunner's but in fact could belong to a more ancient race, known as the Precursors.
- Halo: The Fall of Reach (First appearance)
- Halo: Combat Evolved
- Halo: The Flood
- Halo: First Strike
- Halo 2
- Halo Graphic Novel
- Halo: Ghosts of Onyx
- Halo 3
- Halo: Contact Harvest
- Halo: Reach
- Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary
- Halo 4
- Halo: Escalation
- Halo 2: Anniversary
- Halo 5: Guardians
- ↑ Halo: Contact Harvest
- ↑ Halo: Combat Evolved The Silent Cartographer
- ↑ Halo 2 Ascension
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 Halo: Ghosts of Onyx
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Halo 3
- ↑ Halo Waypoint Tiers of Technology
- ↑ Halo: Reach Breakpoint
- ↑ Gamesbeat The top 15 swag shirts of E3 2012
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Halo: Silentium, page 85
- ↑ Halo 3 Terminals
- ↑ Halo 3, Sandtrap
- ↑ Halo 3, Sandbox
- ↑ Halo 3, Epitaph
- ↑ Halo 3, Construct
- ↑ YouTube: BTS: Anniversary Terminals
- ↑ Iris