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Learning Activities

Boustrophedon Writing

According to themselves, the ancient Greeks borrowed their alphabet from the Phoenicians. They then changed it to suit their needs, dropping letters that were not used in the Greek language, adding vowels and so on. They then used the language to record their poems, their history and their business records.

At first, their writing ran from right to left. Then, much later, they wrote from left to right, as we do today. In between they used a kind of writing called boustrophedon (as the ox turns when he plows a field). At that time the Greeks did not use Upper and Lower case letters, nor did they use punctuation so reading a piece of boustrophedon writing is challenging. See if you can decipher the following story about Pandora, the first woman.

Boustrophedon Writing

See, below, how much easier it is to read boustrophedon writing when punctuation is added!

Boustrophedon Writing

Now, try doing a piece of boustrophedon writing on your own. Find a poem, a nursery rhyme or a short story and put it into “ox writing”, without punctuation and then ask a classmate or a member of your family to decipher it.