Indus Script Deciphered
It has been 140 years since the first seal was discovered at Harappa. Since then, we had many such seals with more than 400 signs discovered at various sites across a wide region spanning present day Afghanistan, Pakistan, Rajasthan, Punjab and Gujarat. A few were even found outside, not more than forty seals in the Middle East from Oman, Euphrates Valley all the way to Jordan. But the average number of signs per seal is just five and the longest text we have is of 17 characters.
Even now we have no clue as to what they had meant. Experts in various fields have spent years of their careers trying to decipher the enigma. Their efforts are seminal especially the likes of Mahadevan, Parpola, Rao and Kak.
Another predicament which plagued the efforts is the extremely passionate adherence to two divergent views by the scientists, with their political and ideological support groups ossified into Hindutva and Tamil Nationalists
There is promise on the horizon with recent advances in computer aided methods.However, conclusive proof can only be obtained if we lay our hands on a longer text, or, providence provides us a bilingual text - which theoretically is possible considering the amount of trade between the Indus and its contemporary Acadian Empire.
Recently, a friend of mine had said that I am ignorant of the fact that the script had already been deciphered. He was convinced by a book which he had picked up at the airport and gave it to me to read, which proved 'conclusively' that the short texts represented the hymns of Rig Veda with an extremely convoluted logic; then I came across another similar book by a lady which claimed that the pictograms or the logograms were a modified version of their Sumerian / Acadian counterparts.
While the experts are spending their lives and careers in search of truth in a scientific and transparent milieu, the field has been infested by a multitude of charlatans and frauds, who keep claiming to have had deciphered the script for short-lived fame, which unfortunately is lapped up by the gullible media and public.The paucity of material and its controversial nature makes the subject attractive to these academic carpetbaggers.And, it is easy to sound authentic with a little bit of creativity.
Just to prove the point, let me put down a parody of a ‘scientific paper’ (For the convenience of my friends, I have shortened it by eliminating chaff and retained only the juice and rest assured, usually such papers run into a hundred pages at the least for the purpose of manufacturing authenticity):
A New Approach to the Decipherment based on the Context and Functional Imperatives of Epigraphical Evidence from the Bronze Age Civilization of the Indian Subcontinent.
Prof. Adhoc Speculatrov,
University of Ĝodŋōžwhér
Dr. Kamaal K Kallan
Coordinator, BhéjaKhāli Project
Dr. Jaundice D’ Fraud
School of Barchaeology, Kalahari
University of Ĝodŋōžwhér
Dr. Kamaal K Kallan
Coordinator, BhéjaKhāli Project
Dr. Jaundice D’ Fraud
School of Barchaeology, Kalahari
The Bronze Age Civilization of Indian Subcontinent was discovered by ….. and is variously called …… by its type site Harappa. Since 1875, a number of artifacts in various media had been discovered which contained markings …. A complete list of these textual signs is available …. This article utilizes the catalog of the Society for ….. of …. The monologue ends finally after an eloquent flow of unendurable drivel with adequate amount of name dropping and a comprehensive listing of convenient facts.
The complete catalog of 420 signs was critically examined and the contexts in which they were found were noted. A team of experts from the fields of Geriatric Illogic, Procreative Biology, Incomprehensible Epigraphy and Historic Calisthenics; duly assisted by the Apostate Co-laboratory of Hoax, New Jerk and The Ecstatistical Sinstitute of Panacea.
Many hypotheses were put forward based on the number and the structure of signs and their sequence and frequency of occurrence. The paper wanders into 'the' inconsequential details for the exigency of sounding authentic with cross references to some earlier works until a few convenient facts are culled and dressed to support the propositions required for a workable hypothesis. (definitive was deliberate)
It was proposed by a few eminent scientists that since the number of signs exceeded 400, the script is logo-syllabic: like the Sumerian Cuneiform, Linear B, Mayan, and Egyptian. However, an analysis of its sequences by our Team of Exports from the Co-laboratory of Hoax gave us some path-breaking insights. The signs are independent pictograms each with a complete meaning for the users.
Based on the frequency and the position of the signs, it was proposed that certain signs almost always occurred at the end of the sequence and are considered case endings. But by applying the technique of inverted logic based on our ethnographic study conducted by our team at the Trucker’s Offices near the Octroi Depot at the New Bombay Creek, we are able to establish that the sequence of notations is based on their decreasing importance in size of expense and their regularity of occurrence, with the exceptional notations occurring towards the end. This proves that the common signs in the seals were engraved first and the exceptional ones towards the end. Whereas, the clay impressions show the reverse,yet we were able to prove from our ethnographic research at the dance bars of Thane, crowding of certain common signs at the beginning of the inscription is due to the propensity of the transport clerks to provide space for the exceptions and their casualness in marking / inscribing the common notations / signs.
Most of the earlier research in deciphering the signs was mired in the inconsequential debate on language used. Bryan Wells and I. Mahadevan were of the opinion that the script is Dravidian and tried to read words from it. Subhash Kak has shown that it bears similarities to Brahmi script and the language could be Indo-Aryan.
Yet, Computer models developed at The University of Ĝodŋōžwhér showed that the signs only indicated certain meanings common to the users and not limited by the language spoken by them. The wide area in which these signs were found shows that they had a uniform meaning independent of the diverse languages and faiths of people who inhabited the region which probably was as multilingual as it is today: Currently the region under the influence of Harappan Civilization hosts a multitude of diverse linguistic groups and cultures. Here, an example may be necessary. A hundred rupee note has the same meaning to all users even though it was called differently by the speakers of Punjabi, Bengali or Tamil. If the seals had similar functional role, any search for language is of no consequence.
As to the functional context in which most of these seals were found in Moenjodaro, Kalibangan, Lothal and Lagash there is evidence of their usage as sealings on shipments. This proves beyond doubt that the seals had an economic function.
With the clarity achieved from various fields of study we set forth our hypothesis:
“The seals were a record of the expenses incurred by the courier / transporter and were recorded on Steatite as such by the clerks of the receiving warehouses and clay tokens with its impressions were issued to them for reimbursement, which they carried back as proof of acceptance of expenses and the reimbursing clerks destroyed the sealings after the purpose is served. A duplicate of the engraving was impressed on the goods as a record of its value.”
The ethnographic study of the freight clerks’ notations in Bombay Creek indicated that the common ones are surprisingly symbolic even today.
With this knowledge, we embarked on deciphering some of the most common signs of Harappan symbols below.
Modes of Transport
Firstly we explore some signs which are indicative of various modes of transportation of goods relevant to the Bronze Age Civilization.
The Ship: The civilization was riparian. Most common mode of transport was by river. A symbol of Ship / Galley is also the most common symbol in the seals and clay sealings found. The highest and most regular symbol inscribed by the engravers also must have been this, therefore, its presence at the beginning and also in a most casual fashion. Minor variations in this symbol must have denoted the types and variety of craft used. The symbol also is associated with some number marks which might have denoted the days or distances or even the number of craft.
|SHIP / GALLEY|
Carts were an important mode of transport and there is enough evidence from the presence of Toy Carts. The above picture indicates that most of the carts were of two wheels as they are even today.
Another common sign, with its meaning clear. Even today in rural India, carrying loads with a simple bamboo yoke is common. A number of combinations of the yoke with other symbols show the use of human loaders.
The above symbol is a combination of human yoke bearer and a ship, probably indicative of loading or off-loading from the ship or a symbol of chandler.
These probably indicated head-loads: The symbols show a basket and a sack or a bundle being carried by a man. There was a considered opinion amongst our Procreative Biologists that the symbols represent a flycatcher and that of a woman who is in an extreme need of a primitive surgical technique called Liposuction. Many terracotta artifacts from the region suggest this propensity (see pic)
Terrain Specific Signs
There are many signs which are indicative of the geographical features and the hazardous terrains through which the goods were transported. Most of them are simple symbols denoting a familiar geographical feature. However, their similarity to some of the human, material and occasionally esoteric attributes is a cause for confusion. Dr. Kallan from the BhéjaKhāli Project counsels us to refrain from using clues from religious and spiritual milieu which is in vogue amongst most scientists in deciphering the symbols. 'One must understand that the symbols were created to assist a nascent trade of population with diverse tongues and beliefs.
Another common occurrence is two simple parallel lines, either straight or curved. They frequently occur in
combination with the ship sign.
The parallel lines in combination with a number of human signs probably were indicative of River Crossing, Ferry etc.
Their similarity to the pedestrian crossing signs of the present day is very interesting. Probably they had signs for Zebra Crossing too, but we are unable to reach a consensus as the only sign which answers the requirement is either called a ‘Horse Crossing’ or that of an Asian Wild Ass. Therefore finally we intended calling them 'Unspecified Equine Crossing.'
|MOUNTAIN TERRAIN / STEEP INCLINE|
Probably, the signs indicated a special consideration for transporting across a mountain or a range of mountains. The last may be indicative of a steep path or incline.
Though there was a logical probability that the first sign denotes a camel’s hump and a symbol for pack animal, which encouraged our geriatric experts to speculate on the symbolic ‘triple hump’.
Our colleague Prof. Richard Cephalus had examined the evidence of some other signs combining the triangular mountain sign and the human sign with obvious meaning similar to his own name in common Americanese.
The meaning is obvious.
|WILD TERRAIN / BRIGANDAGE|
The above symbols of wild animals and hooded cobra or lizard probably indicated the wild and hazardous route or losses due to brigandage and the need for protection.
We agree with the learned opinion of Dr. Pulitzer Ray and Animalka Gandhi that these signs, which are evident proof of uncivilized and callous attitude of the mercantile elite of these city states, must be destroyed.
Quantity and Space
The signs indicating weights, numbers and space which are essential to specify quantities delivered and losses incurred during transport. Most of these signs were in combination with other signs specifying the modes of transport etc.
Their resemblance to various common weights found across the region is clear. The variants probably indicated different units in combination with number signs.
|SPACE / LOCATION|
The resemblance also of these symbols with some modern icons is obvious and our ethnology experts are still pursuing this line of research and the results would be published separately if they survive their prolonged inebriation.
The signs indicate the space or the location of the goods. The first sign probably meant half load or half rental at the wayside warehouse or on the ferry or boat and indicated the cost of transport or rental.
Other Expenses on route and Services
Our experience at the Creek indicated that deliveries of goods are always accompanied by a list of expenses of the truck drivers commonly incurred by them on route. The most obvious was the fuel and wages. Other expenses are as follows: Meals, Night Shelter, Highway Tolls, Taxes, Repairs and Miscellaneous Services. We shall explore some of the signs which indicate them.
With major part of the transport being riparian, the symbol of fish probably indicated meal. The sign of fish is one of the most common signs and is usually followed by number signs, probably indicating the number of meals to be paid for. The ‘Bird in Bowl’ sign also probably indicated food of a different kind. The inference is amply supported by the consumption patterns of some of the river-side settlements in the region around Amritsar: Macchli and Kukkad being synonymous with anything edible.
This might be indicative of plant based food, a vegetarian’s meal. But our team of experts in the field of Procreative Biology has a different view, which was confirmed by our study of expenses of long distance truckers: The signs are obviously of their most essential expense both in terms of size and regularity: sexual favors from a sizable number of establishments located strategically on most frequently traveled routes.
|SHELTER / PARASOL|
The sign of a parasol; probably a sign for shelter or protection for goods from elements: rain, sun etc. Even today, no trucker at the Bombay Creek ventured out on a journey without a rubber tarp. Alas, our friends engaged in educating them of the uses of a much smaller rubber to protect themselves from the most common natural hazard falls to deaf ears.
|SLAVES / PRISONERS|
Wages & Slaves:
The above signs might be referring to bonded labor or gang slaves and the last could be a sign for female slave, used for either carrying or processing of goods.
Or, were they prisoners? We shall investigate once our specialists are freed who are currently assisting in exposing the roots of 2G scam, obviously due to the connection between certain Tamil groups and the Harappan Civilization.
|MOON / NIGHT|
The sign of moon probably was a symbol for night travel or transiting by night.
|LAMP / LAMP BEARER|
Symbols indicative of Lamps and Lamp Carriers. Torch bearers were probably hired and it was a common expense when transporting goods by night. Even today, you find the torch carriers at traditional processions in the subcontinent like temple fests and ‘baraats’. Imagine how easy it was in those days when the convoys of merchants traveled without any traffic restrictions, dancing to Indian Apache runes.
Security and Armed Guard:
The above signs probably indicated different types of armed security hired for the convoy and had different expense connotations. Dr Fraud has a different view in her previously published paper. (Please note that her name was curiously misspelled in the Journal of Barchaeology, Vol. 00)
The sign of ‘Crab’ and its simplified or compound versions probably indicated Tax Passes or Booths. Our team of experts from Inverted Illogic rather that the Sanskrit word for crab is a clue of its meaning: Kara – Kataka.
Kara = Tax = Toll
Kataka = Pass = Gate
The parallel lines were considered earlier as indicative of river and the cross sign as barricade or gate. These above signs may be indicative of river, ford and dam / confluence in that order and had different values.
The sign of cross in a historic context and its connection with the preponderant penchant for evasion of taxes amongst the people of the subcontinent was noted and was referred to the Enforcement Directorate of the Government of India, who have been honing their skills in deciphering such issues and probably may find the clues at a new site on the Persian Gulf.
Before we conclude, we may need to validate our inferences by trying to decipher a sequence of signs meaningfully. Our experts equipped with the knowledge of Geriatric Calisthenics have successfully and unambiguously solved the riddle of the famous seal M 453.
We try to read the sequence from left to right as it was meant.
The first sign is a ship and the two parallel lines indicate that the ship was a river craft. Let us assume that the cost of transport by ship on river is a unit and is acknowledged. The third sign indicates a cart. The goods were loaded and transported from the river to destination by a cart and the charges of hiring a cart are acknowledged. The fourth sign is a yoke bearer with two number signs indicating hiring of two men to carry the load from the cart (probably left at the gate) to the receiving warehouse. The last sign is a space indicator: either the space occupied at the warehouse or the location of goods at the warehouse or the location of the receiving center in relation to the city. Now the courier or transporter carries the sealing which also carried the identity of the receiver on the obverse side as an acknowledgment to either the place of origin of the goods or an agent for reimbursement of expenses incurred and also as proof of delivery for the merchant.
Now we can say conclusively that the methodology employed by our team could reasonably explain the meaning of most of the commonly used signs leaving a few exceptional signs which had a temporary use due to the exigent circumstances.
Therefore, we may conclude that the signs from the seals and sealings obtained at various sites of the Bronze Age Civilization of South Asia represent the clerical issues of the receiving centers to the transporters of trade goods acknowledging receipts and the incurred costs of freight and other services.
Further, our study also sets to rest the debate on the language issue as the signs are proved to be independent of the language spoken by its users.
At first we must acknowledge ‘you’ for the patience and perseverance displayed and the luxury of time at your disposal in reading this poppycock theory.
The many nameless truck drivers at the Bombay Creek and the Warehouse Clerks who have shared their experiences, Bills of Expenses and other precious data with our research team from the Ecstatistical Sinstitute of Panacea. The list would continue until finally the waiters of the Café Coffee Day who have patiently served an indefinite number of black coffees and endured as the research progressed for the whole evening amidst many a snigger and curse.
Ab chodo yaar, bahut ho gaya!