Indus Script May Reveal It's Secrets!!!

9 Aug 2009, dilip Comments: | Views: 6118 | | Category: Indus

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 Indian and American researchers are close to breaking the code behind the The Delphian- Enigmatic Script script of the Indus Valley civilisation, which flourished on the India-Pakistan border 4,000 years ago.

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Is Indus Script a system of  Writing?

In 2004 Steve Farmer, Richard Sproat (University of Illinois) and Michael Witzel (Harvard University) stunned the world of ancient Indus scholarship with the claim that the Indus sign system was not writing (their joint paper, The Collapse of the Indus-Script Thesis: The Myth of a Literate Harappan Civilization can be found on Farmer's website). Their work received widespread publicity, even in popular science magazines. They based their reasoning on computer analysis of Indus sign properties apparently not in common with other ancient written languages. The lack of lengthy inscriptions common to other early written languages is another major factor in their argument.“There is zero chance that the Indus valley is literate. Zero,” says Steve Farmer, an independent scholar in Palo Alto, California. “As they say, garbage in, garbage out,” says Michael Witzel of the Harvard University.

A target of their critique was the work of Dr. Asko Parpola (University of Helsinki, website) who - like a number of other ancient Indus "decipherments" in the past century - had concluded that the Indus sign system represented an ancient Dravidian language.  You can have a look at his explanation of Indus Script which can be downloaded from here- Right Click and here and Selecet 'save link as' or 'save target as' 

These quotations from an online news item (New Scientist, April 23, 2009) are representative of what passes for academic debate in sections of the Western media over a serious research paper by Indian scientists published recently in the USA (Science, April 24, 2009).

The Indian teams are from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, and the Indus Research Centre of the Roja Muthiah Research Library (both at Chennai), and backed by a team from the University of Washington at Seattle. They have proposed in their paper, resulting from more than two years of sustained research, that there is credible scientific evidence to show that the Indus script is a system of writing which encodes a language (as briefly reported in The Hindu, April 27, 2009 ).

It says there are distinct patterns in the hieroglyphics used by the script, and creates a statistical model for the unknown language. “The model provides insights into the underlying grammatical structure of the script,” said lead author Rajesh Rao, associate professor of computer science, University of Washington.

The use of statistical methods is not new to research on the Indus script. The point of departure in the new study is the use of rigorous correlation techniques, a significant methodological advance.  

Work on the Indus script continues. The temporal and spatial analysis of the script has been completed and awaits publication. There is scope to compare the Indus script with systems like the Chinese pictograms and the Egyptian hieroglyphics. Dr. Adhikari(Faculty Fellow at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai - specialises in Novel Applications of Statistical Mechanics) believes that all these efforts “are taking us closer to understanding the Indus script.”

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