Boustrophedon writing: an ancient, backwards way

Boustrophedon writing is a technique that consists in not starting every line over from the same side: the hand goes from left to right, then very logically from right to left on the next line, then again from left to right on the next line and so on. Boustrophedon was mostly used in ancient times. Given the fact that our ancestors often used this technique before eventually deciding to write all lines only in one direction or the other, it seems to be some first natural way of writing.

Why not try boustrophedon writing yourself ?

You can yourself try to write this way in your own language. The technique is simple. You just do as oxen do when they plow fields : when arrived at the end of a line, you turn and go the other way. That’s what the Greek etymology of the word says: ‘bous’ means ‘ox’ and ‘strophe’ means ‘to turn’.

If you usually write from left to right, as in English, remember to respect the order of the letters, not only of the words, when you go in the other way, from right to left. The letters of those lines should be written in mirror; they shouldn’t face to the right anymore, but to the left. It’s more difficult to write the letters in this unusual way, but (I have tried both ways) it’s easier to read.

While you’re at it, you can make it even more difficult and write in reverse boustrophedon, that is, you not only turn the letters so that they face to the left, but you also turn them upside down. Do this over a few paragraphs and you’ll have done your brain exercices for the day !

Or, or … you can let dCode do it for you ! Here is a very nice (and free) little tool that will write in boustrophedon for you.

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