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Are you sure that the letters themselves are supposed to be drawn backwards? I think they are supposed to be in backwards order, but the individual shapes stay the same. (I am referring to the image.)

I read a lot on boustrophedon writing in the past but when it came to doing an illustration for this article I did not remember if the shape of the letters was supposed to be reversed (as in the image I finally did) or in normal configuration, as you suggest. I looked it up on the Web, and all the examples I could find at the time showed the letter images inverded on the lines where the writing was right to left. A few minutes ago I looked it up again and once more, all the examples (ancient as well as modern) I could see in that image search, had imverted letter images on the lines that run right to left.AlainV 02:57, 2004 Apr 15 (UTC)

I've always seen it with reversed letters, just as you've made it. Doops 11:00, 25 Apr 2004 (UTC)

I find it personally easier, when doing boustrophedon writing on a blackboard or whiteboard, to always keep the letters in their normal position.

I was not sure if the letters within the reversed text were themselves also reversed or normal. I was quite some time before I finally reached a good example on the Web. AlainV.

  • Why don't you mention this web reference as well? Mikkalai 08:37, 20 Dec 2003 (UTC)

It's a matter of personal edit style. I avoid placing any non-Wikipedia Web link in any of the articles I start or modify, because I find Web pages outside Wikipedia are too unpredictable and short lived and I do not want to lead a reader to an infuriating dead end. But I do not take out links placed by others. Their style, their link! On the other hand maybe I should have put it in this meta page with an indication that it was here today but that it might be gone tomorrow, so here it is: AlainV. (As indeed it is... Dec 2009)

'Why don't you mention this web reference as well' goads this that could be given as provident proclamation "...keep the letters in their normal position" personal research, also an act (one demanding meeting with god)

preservation of reversal lauds testament 'of the self' as opposed to 'of the that before another'. is this that is either choice represent the very last act of the scribe or graffiti artist or the carriance affinative the original creator of 'that used by the scribe or g' artist' Lutias (talk) 01:00, 12 April 2017 (UTC)Lutias (talk) 01:26, 12 April 2017 (UTC)

It would be nice to have an English illustration in Rongorongo, also. That style almost might be readable.

The converter linked to at the bottom does not work. Instead of reversing every other line, it just reverses the entire text so you read right to left bottom to top, plus the letters are still in standard orientation. The 'advanced' version is even worse, just doing the same by words instead of letters.2601:D:3880:501E:83D:2B7:2D:CA10 (talk) 01:54, 8 June 2015 (UTC)
      • DISPUTED***

The first paragraph should be edited to describe some variation that existed in boustrophedon styles. It seems that the more common style is the only one represented/described in the article-that of the entire line being reversed and the individual letters mirrored. However, I know that some inscriptions of Sabaean discovered in Ethiopia, as well as all inscriptions in this style of ancient Ge'ez did not flip the individual letters, except for one letter (representing the [r] sound which was written similar to an L or even closer to a 7 turned upside down. [1] (the pertinent reference is in the 2nd half of the 5th full paragraph) It doesn't seem like I can post images. I photographed boustrophedon inscriptions in Ethiopia. It may require some study for someone to verify my claims without any guidance (which seems ideal; wouldn't want to "lead" or "influence" someone's opinion). In any case, this would be a simple minor addition to state that the letters themselves weren't flipped in all boustrophedon styles; and this article is demonstrably inaccurate until modified. I am a newbie here and would rather not edit the page myself. But I at least wanted to mention it here. unfortunately, the reference I'm familiar with which contains nice photographic evidence seems to have suffered domain expiration. Not sure, I just can't find it. The problem is that, like the article I cite above, the actual term boustrophedon is not always used which complicates research. I would not have even posted this if I was not certain of the veracity of my claims because I have seen it in person with my own eyes!AuralArch (talk) 12:10, 23 May 2018 (UTC)

Magic square[edit]

How do we know the magic square was made to be read in boustrophedon? Is everyone so sure it's that and not e.g. "the sower Arepo holds the wheels with force"? Marnanel 15:10, 11 September 2006 (UTC)

Agreed. I propose to delete most of the Sator arepo section here and point instead to Sator Arepo Tenet Opera Rotas article. If no one objects, I will do the edit in one week. --Aethralis 09:21, 20 October 2006 (UTC)
I did the article: Graffito (archaeology), mainly because of the "Magic Square", (though I tried to use other examples in the article), which I had first read about in C. W. Ceram's book the "March of Archaeology". ....(And I am glad I didn't know about the article: Sator Arepo Tenet Opera Rotas). Michael in-the-Sonoran DesertofARIZONA-Mmcannis 07:23, 21 October 2006 (UTC)
Myself, the person who put it there objects. I assume C. W. Ceram is correct (in agreeing with the others of the interpretation). The Luwian / Luwian language, would be a more informative item to add to the "Boustrophedon" Article, since it is a stand-out example of a Hieroglyph, not Egyptian, and was used boustrophedonically. I say that, since that predates the 0-dating(BC vs AD) time by some number of centuries. Luwian is the only use of Cuneiform in Indo-European, and their hieroglyphs were the Stone-writing (inscribing) form of it....
File:Karkemish 2.jpg
Hieroglyphic Luwian of the Luwian language from the city of Carchemish, which is an example of a Boustrophedonic script.
Michael in the Desert, (of Arizona)-Mmcannis 03:13, 22 October 2006 (UTC)
The magic square section is disproportionate here, there are already several articles dealing with it (which I find to be WP:POVFORK, but this is another matter already) and it's connection with the theme of boustrophedon is not something everybody agrees on. Any other opinions? --Aethralis 09:09, 22 October 2006 (UTC)
Yes. As a very clever palindromic word square, it's not really a good example of boustrophedon: it's too atypical. Most boustrophedon writing wasn't palindromic, couldn't be made into word squares, didn't contain obscure words like arepo, etc.; it was characterized by alternating directions of writing and nothing else. A depiction, transcription, and translation of an ordinary boustrophedon inscription (something like this, but freely-licensed) would be better; the one that's there now is okay but not great (irregular and damaged).
Also, Ceram's reading of the square as boustrophedon writing is minority at best, certainly not the only interpretation, as the presentation implied. (The view that it's Christian is, though more widely-supported, also not unanimous.) The article on the Sator square has the usual reading and translation, and its talk page has a number of citations for the reading and my minute breakdown of the translation. I say cut the material from here and include, at most, a one-sentence pointer to the main article, which could certainly explain Ceram's thesis.
I'm also going to do this for Graffito (archaeology); large amounts of detail on this one piece of writing are as inappropriate there as they are here. I am, of course, open to discussion; let's try to keep it in one place, i.e. here. —Charles P._(Mirv) 20:03, 14 November 2006 (UTC)
I love the FIRST SENTENCE: "It is too atypical", by User:Mirv, Charles P. I just added the External link to Graffito (archaeology), and: "Try to make it real, try to make it real, but compared to what??"...-Mmcannis 18:18, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
What you don't get is this: It is a:

'Rotas Square'
Ceram's: ' "Sator" Square'...
Try to make it real: The subject is Sator: the christian, the... "Great Sower". It is only a Sator Square, by topic, not by title: It is actually inscribed as a "Rotas Square". And.... it has to start out as Rotas, so.... it can boustrophonically END at the Sower: Sator: "the Great Sower". This is ALL VERY CHRISTIAN, and thank Goodlyness, for GRAFFiti, even if Ceram, and I can't get any Body on—Bored!?.... (And get a grip on this people: this was an INDIVIDUAL'S Graffito, which then became popularized- If you're going to argue about it, then go find some good books to read, that deal, with, say,,... the "Great Sower"?.)(i.e. Study Religion)(Where discussion/thinking is PURE—(where the answers are NOT atypical)). ..from the SonoranDesertGuy.. -Mmcannis 18:18, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

The "Rotas Square" is archaeology.
The "sator square" is someting else.
And "Sator, Arepo, Tenet, Tenet, Opera, Rotas square", is Someting Else,.... Again. ...---and again-Mmcannis 18:18, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
And it takes Geniuses to figure this all out since this all started with Graffito, just after "Christianity" was created. Thank goodness for human creativity, amongst, ChAoS....-Mmcannis 18:18, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

C language[edit]

does boustrophedon format have to alternate over lines? I ask as I have just found a reference to the C programming language where the type declarations are described as being boustrophonic but in fact these are all on the same line: ie starting from the identifier you alternate left to right with right to left reading, is my understanding that this is not true boustrophedon format correct? cheers 16:32, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

I edited your post to have a heading. This is a interesting remark, but I'm afraid you are correct saying that boustrophedon is alternating between lines. → Aethralis 07:37, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

Have scripts evolved in this manner?[edit]

Kannada <--> Kannadi <---> English[edit]

It is quite interseting to note that many scripts appear to be flipped or turned at an angle to get other script and in many cases they make sense. For example, the Kannada 'A' appears like flipped english A top-down. Similarly the 'B' appears as to have been rotated and changed. Many letters also appear similar(after removing the top hat called "Talakattu") or flipped and twisted like D,E,F,G,H,I,K,L,M,N,R,U,W,Z, etc. Also note in Kannada the word "kannadi" means mirror, that may explain why the letters appears like that. Any thoughts?! (talk) 11:34, 30 December 2010 (UTC)

Speed reading[edit]

Perhaps Speed Reading could be added to See also list. The talk page there discusses some examples like (or akin) boustrophedon. — Preceding unsigned comment added by JohnsonL623 (talkcontribs) 23:30, 27 February 2012 (UTC)

Other Examples[edit]

...includes comment on UK postmen using the term Boustrophedon to describe door numberings which proceed serially down one side and then back up the other side in the opposite direction (or, around a court-yard in this fashion) "citation needed". I can confirm that there are streets in the UK that are numbered in this way, however, having personally been a postman in Northern England, I can say for certain that I never heard this terminology used to describe this phenomenon. Perhaps the sentence should be reworked, to focus on the numbering phenomenon rather than the suggestion that mostly working-class, state educated postmen (unlikely to have been educated in ancient Greek) will know of this obscure terminology? Matthew Slyman (talk) 05:10, 28 August 2012 (UTC)

Writing wiki text in this manner[edit]

Is there any way to mark a paragraph in Wikipedia in boustrephedon? This would be helpful in ancient manuscripts and alphabets like Runes, Old Italic, etc. Even if I try marking runes as RTL through HTML, they are still facing towards the right, and right-aligned. They should face left on the second line, right the third, and so on. Boustrephedon shouldn't be left/right aligned on opposite sides of the page, they should be directly underneath one another.--JJohnson1701 (talk) 22:36, 4 March 2013 (UTC)

Example of forced LTR/RTL boustrephedon[edit]


ᚻᚢ᛬ᛚᚪᛝᛖ᛬ᚻᚪᚠᛥ᛬ᚦᚢ᛬ᚻᛁᛖᚱ᛬ᚸᛖᚹᚢᚾᛞᛰ᛬ᛋᛁᛖᚻᛥ᛬‏ ‏




If you have a citation that shows that runes were written boustrophedonically, then you should add it to this article. Kortoso (talk) 19:06, 11 July 2016 (UTC)

Prehistoric Writing Dispute[edit]

The first paragraph of the Explanation section was this:

Many ancient scripts, such as Safaitic and Sabaean, were frequently or typically written boustrophedonically, but in Greek it is found most commonly on [prehistoric no, by definition, writing cannot be prehistoric (yes it can, witness 'Linear A')] and archaic inscriptions, becoming less and less popular throughout the Hellenistic period.

Since disputes like this belong on the Talk page rather than in the article itself, I changed the paragraph to read:

Many ancient scripts, such as Safaitic and Sabaean, were frequently or typically written boustrophedonically, but in Greek it is found most commonly in archaic inscriptions, becoming less and less popular throughout the Hellenistic period.

I do not know enough about this subject to have an informed opinion of which editor is correct; I just wanted to pull the discussion to the talk page.

Raran75 (talk) 15:55, 11 November 2013 (UTC)


Does anyone know if braille is sometimes set in boustrophedon?

This article briefly claims it is, but I can't find much on the internet which also says so. Davidmerfield (talk) 02:03, 14 November 2014 (UTC)

Just a plain, "Why?"[edit]

This article doesn't make me clear as to why anyone would write this way. It really boggles my mind when earlier today i had been berated for using sub-optimal fonts for my text, but that aside. If it's just a manner of doing something, as per culture, alrighty then. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:30, 3 March 2016 (UTC)

At a time when most literate people were slow readers and slow writers, it was less effort in a way to start one line right where the previous line left off... AnonMoos (talk) 21:33, 14 April 2017 (UTC)
The benefit is most obvious in a wall inscription with very long lines, lines that can span several feet. Both the mason and the reader can walk along the wall as the text proceeds, and when a new line starts, there is no need to go all the way back to the beginning just for the new line; instead, you walk slowly back as you either create or read the new line. Especially in ancient times, people weren't able to read (skim) quickly and quietly, instead they would typically trace the inscription with their fingers and sound out every character, syllable or word. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 22:31, 29 September 2017 (UTC)

Comment intigrant mine Lutias (talk) 01:06, 12 April 2017 (UTC)

Boustrophedon as a type of Space-Filling Curve[edit]

I would have expected a link to space-filling curves: Space-filling_curve. It seems to me like boustrophedon is a way to fill flat sides of objects with writing in the same way that space-filling curves fill a mathematical plane. Okay, five minutes of Googling reveals a bunch of mathematics papers, but the central research would be more archaeological or linguistic. (And I have no luck finding papers like that...) (talk) 12:02, 23 April 2017 (UTC)