Re: boustrophedon more current, not ancient?

From: Robin Cover (
Date: Fri Dec 22 2000 - 01:21:34 EST

Hmmm... I should not have thoughtlessly jumped into the
discussion w/o knowing more about the thread, including
*why* this information is perceived to be important on the
Unicode list. If someone needs to know the details,
for some serious research purpose, they should consult with
specialists who are current in the field, and not
depend upon hobbyists' second-hand impressions, or upon
out-of-date handbooks.

In this case, I just grabbed two older monographs at hand
(to confirm my memory about the proto-Canaanite

1. Joseph Naveh, Early History of the Alphabet, Jerusalem:
    Magnes Press, 1982.

2. P. Kyle McCarter, The Antiquity of the Greek Alphabet,
    Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1975.

Both authors discuss sinistrograde and dextrograde texts,
character stance (with respect to the direction of
writing), etc etc. as well as "vertical boustrophedon"
exemplars. There is a lot of variation, especially in the
earliest stages; trends (it appears) emerged as conventions
stabilized under various influences.

No doubt more recent monographs and technical articles
add to the picture as summarized by Naveh and McCarter
in these two publications.

Please don't take this summary as authoritative in any
way; consult with epigraphers who are actively researching
and publishing in the field, and who are recognized as
authorities. At the frayed edges you will find a lot of
pseudo-academic quacks.

Robin Cover


On Thu, 21 Dec 2000, John Hudson wrote:

> At 08:13 PM 12/21/2000 -0800, Robin Cover wrote:
> >See Naveh and others on proto-Canaanite writing - "vertical
> >boustrophedon" is a common locution. Vertical alphabetic
> >apparently dropped out of use by about 1100 BCE.
> To clarify, is Naveh talking about vertical text -- i.e. glyphs stacked one
> on top of another -- or rotated boustrephedon text -- i.e. glyphs
> side-by-side but running downwards? I'm assuming the former, from the
> context of your comments, but since this thread has been plagued by inexact
> and admitedly idiosyncratic terminology I would like to be sure that I
> understand you.
> Also, can you cite specific books that include examples of this 'vertical
> boustrephedon'.
> Many thanks,
> John Hudson
> Tiro Typeworks |
> Vancouver, BC | All empty souls tend to extreme opinion.
> | W.B. Yeats
> |

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