Unicorn Seal - Indus Script

Unicorn Seal - Indus Script

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Unicorn Seal -2, Harappan Civilization, C- 2700-2000 BC

Seals appear in the Indus Valley around 2600 B.C. with the rise of the cities and associated administrators. Square and rectangular seals were made from fired steatite. The soft soapstone was carved, polished, and then fired in a kiln to whiten and harden the surface. Seals made of metal are extremely rare, but copper and silver examples are known. The square seals usually have a line of script along the top and a carved animal in the central portion. The animals depicted on the seals, usually males, include domestic and wild animals as well as mythical creatures, such as the unicorn. A small feeding trough or mysterious offering stand is often placed below the head of the animal. Some seals contain more complex scenes that represent mythological or religious events. On the reverse side is a carved knob, or boss, with a perforation for holding a thick cord. These knobs must have been easily broken and are missing from most seals. The unicorn is by far the most common motif found impressed on clay tags originally attached to knots or binding on a bundle of goods. This suggests that the unicorn seal owners were mostly involved in trade and commerce but does not mean that they were the most powerful group. The less widely distributed seals with the bull, elephant, rhinoceros, and tiger motifs may have represented the most powerful clans or offices that actually ruled the cities. Other types of seals found in the Indus Valley, such as compartmented seals, reflect connections with regions where these types of seal were in use.

Artifacts from the Indus Valley Civilization gallery of National Museum, New Delhi India.

The Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) was a Bronze Age civilization (3300–1300 BCE mature period 2600–1900 BCE) that was located in the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent, consisting of what is now mainly present-day Pakistan and northwest India.[4]Flourishing around the Indus River basin, the civilization extended east into the Ghaggar-Hakra River valley and the upper reachesGanges-Yamuna Doab it extended west to the Makran coast of Balochistan, north to northeastern Afghanistan and south to Daimabadin Maharashtra. The civilization was spread over some 1,260,000 km², making it the largest ancient civilization.

The Indus Valley is one of the world's earliest urban civilizations, along with its contemporaries, Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. At its peak, the Indus Civilization may have had a population of well over five million. Inhabitants of the ancient Indus river valley developed new techniques in handicraft (carnelian products, seal carving) and metallurgy (copper, bronze, lead, and tin). The civilization is noted for its cities built of brick, roadside drainage system, and multistoried houses.

The Indus Valley Civilization is also known as the Harappan Civilization, as the first of its cities to be unearthed was located at Harappa, excavated in the 1920s in what was at the time the Punjab province of British India (now in Pakistan). Excavation of Harappan sites has been ongoing since 1920, with important breakthroughs occurring as recently as 1999. There were earlier and later cultures, often called Early Harappan and Late Harappan, in the same area of the Harappan Civilization. The Harappan civilisation is sometimes called the Mature Harappan culture to distinguish it from these cultures. Up to 1,999, over 1,056 cities and settlements have been found, out of which 96 have been excavated, mainly in the general region of the Indus and Ghaggar-Hakra river and its tributaries. Among the settlements were the major urban centres of Harappa, Lothal, Mohenjo-daro (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Dholavira, Kalibanga, and Rakhigarhi.

  • Animals like buffalos,humped bulls and rhinos were also used as records associated with agriculture activity or production.

Contrary to the age-old assumption that the Indus script is a language, a veteran science historian has claimed that it is numerical, as evident from numbers and symbols in the seals and artifacts of the Indus Valley Civilisation (3000-1900 BC). "Attempts to decipher the Indus script were based on the assumption that a script should connote linguistic writing. There are many languages the world over without a script even today," the 90-year-old historian, BV Subbaraayappa, told IANS in Bangalore.

Though the Indus Civilisation came to light 90 years ago when then Archeological Survey of India (ASI) director general John Marshall wrote about its discovery in "The Illustrated London News" in 1924, its mysterious script became contentious due to different interpretations by linguists, historians and archaeologists the world over. "Over 4,000 seals and other inscribed artifacts were unearthed in the Indus Valley sites or the Harappa culture as archaeologists call it, and located in India and (now) Pakistan. They were used to meet the accounting needs of farm production and management," Subbarayappa asserted.

Showing the unique and distinct characteristic features of the numerical-based Indus script, the city-based renowned scholar said the Indus Valley people had widely used the decimal, additive, multiplicative numerical system in their day-to-day occupations, which were primarily agriculture and animal husbandry. "The symbolic representation of six, four and two-rowed varieties of barley, wheat and cotton were depicted in the form of a composite animal - unicorn, a motif in about 1,100 seals, which were intended to be records of foodgrains (wheat & barley) and commodities (cotton), Subbarayappa, a former president of the International Union of History & Philosophy of Science, said.

Other animals like buffalos, humped bulls and rhinos were also used as records associated with agriculture activity or production. "The premise of the numerical hypothesis is that a language can be in vogue in the form of oral tradition long before it was scripted. For instance, the Vedic language did not have a script for over 1,000 years," the nonagenarian recalled.

As numerals require symbolic representation, the first attempt at writing began with numerical forms, as was evident from the basic script forms on the Indus objects that were used as numerals in the past. Ten Indus forms were also used as numerals in the Ashokan, Naneghat and Kushan inscriptions.

Edicts of emperor Ashoka of the Maurya dynasty were recorded for posterity in 33 inscriptions etched on pillars named after him, boulders and cave walls. Naneghat inscriptions belong to the Satavahana rulers in the Western Ghats near Junnar in the Pune district of Maharashtra. The Naneghat, a mountain range, was also used as a trade route between Kalyan and Junnar. Kushan inscriptions were used by Kushan rulers in the Hindu Kush region of what is now northern Pakistan. They had texts in Bactrian in Greek script, in Prakrit written in Brahmi or Kharosthi.

"Repetition of symbols twice, thrice and four times alongside on an Indus seal makes sense only in numeration and not in a language. Their presentation in a line mostly and occasionally in two or three lines on seals indicates numerical value than linguistic expression," Subbarayappa reiterated.

The numerical hypothesis explains the role of granaries and de-husking platforms at Mohenjo-daro in what is now Pakistan's Sindh province and Harappa, while the objects throw light on remnants of barely, wheat, cotton, peas, sesame and dates found in their sites. "My hypothesis describes not only the agricultural production and management but also their quantitative records in the numerical symbols inscribed," the chemist-turned-scientist added.

In view of the Indus script's archaeological importance, the science historian wants national institutions like the ASI, the Indian Council of Historical Research and the Indian National Science Academy to evaluate his numerical hypothesis in a scientific way as its linguistic assumption has reached a blind alley. The numerical hypothesis of the Indus script is, however, gaining ground, thanks to the use of computer programming by scholars in India and overseas to determine whether a script is linguistic or numerical.

Three American scholars - Steve Farmer, Richard Sproat and Michel Witzel of Harvard University - published a paper in 2004 proving that the Indus script was not a language as "the people of the Indus Valley culture were not literate in the modern sense". Sproat, who recently published an article discarding the linguistic nature of the Indus script, also endorsed Subbarayappa's interpretation, although the multiplicative aspect appears cumbersome.

"The large granaries at Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, 18 de-husking platforms, geometrically shaped streets and lanes, standard storage jars, bricks in 1:2:4 ratio and seals clearly indicate the role of numerals and their utilisation by the Indus Valley people for over a long time," Subbarayappa concluded.

Unicorn Seal - Indus Script - History

The unicorn is a mythical creature usually depicted with the body of a horse, but with a single, usually spiral, horn growing out of its forehead, thus its name cornus Latin for 'horn'. The unicorn has been described since antiquity depicted in ancient seals of the Indus Valley Civilization and was mentioned by the ancient Greeks in accounts of natural history by various writers, including Ctesias, Strabo, Pliny the Younger, and Aelian. The Bible also describes an animal, the re'em, which some versions translate as unicorn.

In European folklore, the unicorn is often depicted as a white horse-like or goat-like animal with a long horn and cloven hooves (sometimes a goat's beard). In the Middle Ages and Renaissance, it was commonly described as an extremely wild woodland creature, a symbol of purity and grace, which could be captured only by a virgin. In the encyclopedias, its horn was said to have the power to render poisoned water potable and to heal sickness. In medieval and Renaissance times, the tusk of the narwhal was sometimes sold as unicorn horn. Read more

Alleged Unicorn Sightings

Adam in the Garden of Eden at the Beginning of Time
Emperor Fu Hsi China 5,000 years ago
Emperor Huang Di Emperor's garden in China 2697 B.C
Emperor Yao China About 2,000 B.C
Confucius China 551-479 B.C
Ctesias India 4th century B.C
Alexander the Great Asia 3rd century B.C.
Julius Caesar Germany 1st century B.C.
Prester John Asia Mid- 1100s
Genghis Khan India Early 1200s

Winged aurochs, 510 BC, Palace of Darius in Susa, Susa, Iran (Louvre)

Unicorn seal of Indus Valley, Indian Museum

Youths riding goats (a Dionysiac motif in antiquity) on 12th-century capitals from
the abbey of Mozac in the Auvergne. The goats are indistinguishable from unicorns.

Virgin Mary holding the unicorn (c. 1480),
detail of the Annunciation with the Unicorn Polyptych,
National Museum, Warsaw

A prehistoric cave painting in Lascaux, France depicts an animal with two straight horns emerging from its forehead. The simplified profile perspective of the painting makes these two horns appear to be a single straight horn since the species of the figure is otherwise unknown, it has received the name "the Unicorn". Richard Leakey suggests that it, like the Sorcerer found at Trois-Freres, is a therianthrope, a blend of animal and human its head, in his interpretation, is that of a bearded man.

There have been unconfirmed reports of aboriginal paintings of unicorns at Namaqualand in southern Africa. A passage of Bruce Chatwin's travel journal In Patagonia (1977) relates Chatwin's meeting a South American scientist who believed that unicorns were among South America's extinct megafauna of the Late Pleistocene, and that they were hunted out of existence by man in the fifth or sixth millennium BC. He told Chatwin, who later sought them out, about two aboriginal cave paintings of "unicorns" at Lago Posadas (Cerro de los Indios).

Though the popular image of the unicorn is that of a white horse differing only in the horn, the traditional unicorn has a billy-goat beard, a lion's tail, and cloven hooves, which distinguish him from a horse. In even the earliest references he is fierce yet good, selfless yet solitary, but always mysteriously beautiful.

In China the qilin a mythology creature sometimes called "the Chinese unicorn". It is portrayed as a hybrid animal that is less unicorn than chimera, with the body of a deer, the head of a lion, green scales and a long forwardly-curved horn.

The Japanese "Kirin", though based on the Chinese animal, is usually portrayed as more closely resembling the Western unicorn than the Chinese qilin.

According to an interpretation of seals carved with an animal which resembles a bull (and which may in fact be a simplistic way of depicting bulls in profile), it has been claimed that the unicorn was a common symbol during the Indus Valley civilization, appearing on many seals. It may have symbolized a powerful social group.

Certain poetical passages of the biblical Old Testament refer to a strong and splendid horned animal called re'em. This word was translated "unicorn" or "rhinoceros" in many versions of the Bible, but many modern translations prefer "wild ox" (aurochs), which is the correct meaning of the Hebrew re'em.

The authorized version has nine references to the animal, among them: "God brought them out of Egypt he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn." (Numbers 23: 22). Yet the biblical references appear to be due to a linguistic error made by Hebrew scholars in the 3rd century B.C. when they translated the Bible into Greek. They rendered the Hebrew re'em (meaning "aurochs," a wild, long-horned ox by then extinct in the Holy Land) as monoceros (meaning "single-horned"), which translates 'from the creek became unicorn'. As a result the Scriptures seemed to lend weight to the belief that the animal existed.

As a biblical animal the unicorn was interpreted allegorically in the early Christian church. One of the earliest such interpretations appears in the ancient Greek bestiary known as the Physiologus, which states that the unicorn is a strong, fierce animal that can be caught only if a virgin maiden is thrown before it. The unicorn leaps into the virgin's lap, and she suckles it and leads it to the king's palace. Medieval writers thus likened the unicorn to Christ, who raised up a horn of salvation for mankind and dwelt in the womb of the Virgin Mary.

Other legends tell of the unicorn's combat with the elephant, whom it finally spears to death with its horn, and of the unicorn's purifying of poisoned waters with its horn so that other animals may drink.

According to the book of Genesis, God gave Adam the task of naming everything he saw. In some translations of the Bible, the Unicorn was the first animal named thereby, elevating it above all other beasts in the universe. When Adam and Eve left paradise, the Unicorn went with them and came to represent purity and chastity. Thus, the Unicorn's purity in the Western legends stems from its Biblical beginnings.

The Bible also offers an explanation about why the Unicorn has not been seen for so long. During the flood that engulfed the world for 40 days and 40 nights, Noah took two of each animal to safety, but Unicorns were not among them. A Jewish folk tale mentions they were originally on board but demanded so much space and attention that Noah banished them. They either drowned or managed to swim during the flood and still survive somewhere in the world or, as some believe, evolved into the narwhale.

There are seven clear references to the Unicorn in the Old Testament although, there is now doubt about the original translations that may have erroneously named another animal as a Unicorn.

The Jewish Talmud also makes many similar references to the Unicorn. In Jewish folklore it is the fiercest of all animals and is able to kill an elephant with a single thrust from its horn.

Throughout history, the church has interpreted the Unicom in a number of different ways. In medieval times, it became a symbol of Christ himself, and its horn was symbolic of the unity of Christ and God.

Some medieval paintings show the Trinity with Christ represented by a Unicom. On the other hand, the Unicom also appears as a symbol of evil in the book of Isaiah. Overall, however, the Unicom has come to be regarded as a pure and virtuous animal. Regardless of the place of the Unicom in Biblical theory, it is evident that there was a strong belief in the animal's existence in Biblical times, as well as in the following centuries. It appears so often in the Old Testament that it can hardly be overlooked in the Christian world. The fact that it appears in the Bible meant that no devout Christian could doubt its authenticity.

The unicorn does not appear in early Greek mythology, but instead in Greek natural history, for Greek writers on natural history were convinced of the reality of the unicorn, which they located in India, a distant and fabulous realm for them. The Encycloaedia Britannica (1911) collects classical references to unicorns: the earliest description is from Ctesias, who described in Indica white wild asses, fleet of foot, having on the forehead a horn a cubit and a half in length, colored white, red and black from the horn were made drinking cups which were a preventive of poisoning.

Aristotle must be following Ctesias when he mentions two one-horned animals, the oryx, a kind of antelope, and the so-called "Indian ass".

Pliny adds that "it cannot be taken alive" and quoting Ctesias, adds that India produces also a one-horned horse. The monoceros was sometimes called carcazonon, which may be a form of the Arabic carcadn, meaning "rhinoceros". Strabo says that in India there were one-horned horses with stag-like heads.

Medieval knowledge of the fabulous beast stemmed from biblical and ancient sources, the creature variously represented as a kind of wild ass, goat, or horse.

By A.D. 200, Tertullian had called the unicorn a small fierce kid-like animal, and a symbol of Christ. The predecessor of the medieval bestiary, compiled in Late Antiquity and known as Physiologus, popularized an elaborate allegory in which a unicorn, trapped by a maiden (representing the Virgin Mary) stood for the incarnation. As soon as the unicorn sees her it lays its head on her lap and falls asleep.

This became a basic emblematic tag that underlies medieval notions of the unicorn, justifying its appearance in every form of religious art.

The unicorn also figured in courtly terms: for some thirteenth-century French authors such as Thibaut of Champagne and Richard of Fournival, the lover is attracted to his lady as the unicorn is to the virgin. This courtly version of salvation provided an alternative to God's love and was assailed as heretical.

With the rise of humanism, the unicorn also acquired more orthodox secular meanings, emblemmatic of chaste love and faithful marriage. It plays this role in Petrarch's Triumph of Chastity.

The royal throne of Denmark was made of "unicorn horns". The same material was used for ceremonial cups because the unicorn's horn continued to be believed to neutralize poison, following classical authors.

The unicorn, tamable only by a virgin woman, was well established in medieval lore by the time Marco Polo described them as "scarcely smaller than elephants. They have the hair of a buffalo and feet like an elephant's. They have a single large black horn in the middle of the forehead. They have a head like a wild boar's. They spend their time by preference wallowing in mud and slime. They are very ugly brutes to look at. They are not at all such as we describe them when we relate that they let themselves be captured by virgins, but clean contrary to our notions." It is clear that Marco Polo was describing a rhinoceros.

In German, since the sixteenth century, Einhorn ("one-horn") has become a descriptor of the various species of rhinoceros.

In popular belief, examined wittily and at length in the seventeenth century by Sir Thomas Browne in his Pseudodoxia Epidemica, unicorn horns could neutralize poisons (book III, ch. xxiii). Therefore, people who feared poisoning sometimes drank from goblets made of "unicorn horn".

Alleged aphrodisiac qualities and other purported medicinal virtues also drove up the cost of "unicorn" products such as milk, hide, and offal. Unicorns were also said to be able to determine whether or not a woman was a virgin in some tales, they could only be mounted by virgins.

One traditional method of hunting unicorns involved entrapment by a virgin.

Because of the unicom's purity, its horn, sometimes called an 'Alicorn', was considered magical and became a popular ingredient in medieval medicines. Its mere presence was considered a strong protection against poison in food, and when worn in jewelry, it protected the wearer from evil.

Alicorn was often worth more than its weight in gold, so kings, emperors, and popes were among the few people able to pay the high prices demanded. They were eager to acquire the precious horn to "guarantee" long and healthy lives. With such a lucrative trade, false alicorn was rampant, made from bull horn, goat horn, or in some cases from the horns of exotic animals or from ordinary dog bones.

Complete Unicom horns were very rare. For example, a complete Unicom horn owned by Queen Elizabeth I of England was valued at the time at L10,000 - the equivalent of about 3,000 ounces of gold and enough money to buy a large country estate complete with a castle. Rather than coming from unicorns, these complete horns often turned out to be the long spirally twisted tusks of the male narwhal, a large marine animal. Kings often placed alicorn on the table to protect themselves against poisonous food and drink, and until the revolution toppled the monarchy in 1789, the eating utensils used by French kings were made of Unicom horn to counteract any poison in the food.

The famous late Gothic series of seven tapestry hangings, "The Hunt of the Unicorn" is a high point in European tapestry manufacture, combining both secular and religious themes. In the series, richly dressed noblemen, accompanied by huntsmen and hounds, pursue a unicorn against millefleurs backgrounds or settings of buildings and gardens. They bring the animal to bay with the help of a maiden who traps it with her charms, appear to kill it, and bring it back to a castle in the last and most famous panel, "The Unicorn in Captivity,' the unicorn is shown alive again and happy, chained to a pomegranate tree surrounded by a fence, in a field of flowers.

Scholars conjecture that the red stains on its flanks are not blood but rather the juice from pomegranates, which were a symbol of fertility. However, the true meaning of the mysterious resurrected Unicorn in the last panel is unclear. The series was woven about 1500 in the Low Countries, probably Brussels or Liege, for an unknown patron. A set of six called the Dame a la licorne (Lady with the unicorn) at the Musee de Cluny, Paris, woven in the Southern Netherlands about the same time, pictures the five senses, the gateways to temptation, and finally Love ("A mon seul desir" the legend reads), with unicorns in each hanging.

The tapestries were bought by John D. Rockefeller in 1922 and are now on display at the Cloisters museum in New York.

In heraldry, a unicorn is depicted as a horse with a goat's cloven hooves and beard, a lion's tail, and a slender, spiral horn on its forehead. Whether because it was an emblem of the Incarnation or of the fearsome animal passions of raw nature, the unicorn was not widely used in early heraldry, but became popular from the fifteenth century. Though sometimes shown collared, which may perhaps be taken in some cases as an indication that it has been tamed or tempered, it is more usually shown collared with a broken chain attached, showing that it has broken free from its bondage and cannot be taken again.

It is probably best known from the royal arms of Scotland and the United Kingdom: two unicorns support the Scottish arms a lion and a unicorn support the UK arms. The arms of the Society of Apothecaries in London has two golden unicorn supporters.

Since the rhinoceros is the only land animal to possess a single horn, it has often been supposed that the unicorn legend originated from encounters between Europeans and rhinoceroses. The Woolly Rhinoceros would have been quite familiar to Ice-Age people, or the legend may have been based on the surviving rhinoceroses of Africa. Europeans and West Asians have visited Sub-Saharan Africa for as long as we have records.

The Roman Empire also imported rhinoceroses for their arena 'games', along with hippopotamuses and other exotic creatures. Roman crowds could distinguish between the African and Indian rhinoceroses, both of which were slaughtered in front of huge crowds.

Chinese from the time of the Han Dynasty had also visited East Africa, which may account for their odd legends of 'one-horned ogres'. The Ming-dynasty voyages of Zheng He brought back giraffes, which were identified by the Chinese with another creature from their own legends.

One suggestion is that the unicorn myth is based on an extinct animal sometimes called the "Giant Unicorn" but known to scientists as Elasmotherium, a huge Eurasian rhinoceros native to the steppes, south of the range of the woolly rhinoceros of Ice Age Europe. Elasmotherium looked little like a horse, but it had a large single horn in its forehead. It seems to have become extinct about the same time as the rest of the glacial age megafauna.

However, according to the Nordisk familjebok and to space scientist Willy Ley, the animal may have survived long enough to be remembered in the legends of the Evenk people of Russia as a huge black bull with a single horn in the forehead.

Even if Elasmotherium is not the creature described by Ibn Fadlan, ordinary rhinoceroses may have some relation to the unicorn. In support of this claim, it has been noted that the 13th century traveller Marco Polo claimed to have seen a unicorn in Java, but his description (quoted above) makes it clear to the modern reader that he actually saw a Javanese rhinoceros.

The connection that is sometimes made with a single-horned goat derives from the vision of Daniel recorded in Book of Daniel 8:5:

    And as I was considering, behold, a he-goat came from the west over the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes.which is soon exchanged for four horns, as a symbol of a great kingdom giving place to four monarchies.

In the domestic goat, a rare deformity of the generative tissues can cause the horns to be joined together such an animal could be another possible inspiration for the legend. A farmer and a circus owner also produced fake unicorns, remodeling the "horn buttons" of goat kids, in such a way their horns grew deformed and joined in a grotesque seemingly single horn.

The unicorn's true origins lie in the depths of Time, in that beginning-less Beginning when all was emptiness and waste, darkness and mist. Then moved the Holy One to sunder the dark from the bright. So were established concord and balance, with darkness driven to the fringes and the Abode of Light at the middle point of all. But darkness once given a situation and compass for itself, grew weighty beyond accounting, intruding among all things and drawing them toward itself according to their weights and inclinations.

Therefore was the balance made to tremble, and from that trembling arose a resonance - an awesome sound that circled in the vast emptiness, chanting mightily. The Holy One modulated that sound to make of it a chord of great sweetness, and breathed into its intelligence, so that it might become a spirit of harmony and guidance unto every corner of the void. This was the powerful spirit called Galgallim, whirling itself through uncounted ages while ever spiraling around the central Light. And while some things still fell into darkness, yet Galgallim guided others on a more rarified path toward the shores of Light. In such a way was balance achieved once more.

Then the Holy One wished for a panel on which to display His greater art and between the shores of Light and the walls of darkness He hung in balance the Earth. Its naked mountains He raised in fire and scattered them with shining gems that still reflect those flames. Then the Holy One addressed to the spirit of guidance, which is Galgallim, saying, "Out of the hidden gulfs I made thee, free and by form unbounded. Wilt thou accept shape upon Earth, that thou mayst supply a service even greater?" And even as it was asked, so it was agreed.

Wrapped in a cloud came he, by a bright whirlwind borne along. He descended gently from the heavens to the infant fields of Earth, even before the fires of its forming were yet subdued. Thus did the Unicorn possess the brightness of the Light, that he might drive all darkness and obscurity from him.

He was called Asallam, of unicorns the firstborn, a creature fearfully wrought and wonderful to behold, bearing a horn of spiral light that is the sign of Galgallim, the guide. Now with his horn Asallam struck a barren rock, piercing it to a great depth, and drew forth a gushing spring of life. Wherever those waters flowed, fires were quenched and the Earth was made fertile with a multitude of fruitful things. Great trees rose up and blossomed, and under their shade came beasts both wild and tame. All this was by the intent of the Holy One, and the Unicorn was the instrument of His will. In such a way was formed the Garden of the Unicorn, called Shamagim, which means the Place Where there is Water.

The Holy One then addressed the firstborn, saying, "Asallam! Of all my creations, thou alone shalt ever recall thy making, and dwell in remembrance unbroken of the Light, to be its guide and guardian. But never to the Light shalt thou return, until the final hour of the End of Time."

And the Unicorn dwelled in his garden and went walking abroad in great wonder. When the Holy One wished to make Himself known, even as all things were known to Him. Into Himself withdrawing, from earth and air, water and fire His sacred breath compounded Man, who was strong and fair, being the crown of all great ion. Looking upon Man, the Unicorn marveled, and became suddenly modest and shy. And because Asallam had no part in Man's making, the Unicorn loved Man the more and bowed before him as a servant. Thus was the Unicorn the first beast that Man beheld, and the first to which he gave a name. From that time to this, the fates of these two races have been bound together for while the Unicorn leads toward the Light, only Man may pass therein. And this was the beginning of the First Age.

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Beyond Decipherment: Message of the Indus Seals

Extracted from a paper on Vedic Seals by N. S. Rajaram, presented at a recent conference of leading historians on Vedic history.

(Based on The Deciphered Indus Script by N.Jha and N.S. Rajaram)

The year 1996-97, the fiftieth year of Indian independence, was important in more respects than one. In that year Natwar Jha published his monograph Vedic Glossary on Indus Seals containing a complete decipherment of the Indus script along with more than a hundred deciphered readings. Shortly after its publication, I began my collaboration with Jha leading to our soon to be published book The Deciphered Indus Script. In our book, we present deciphered readings of well over five hundred texts with Vedic references and explanations. Since many of the messages are repeated on different seals, they probably cover between 1500 and 2000 seals, or about half the known corpus. We have read more that are not included in our book for reasons mainly of logistics.

The main conclusion to follow from our work is that the Harappan Civilization, of which the seals are a product, belonged to the latter part of the Vedic Age. It has close connections with Vedantic works like the Sutras and the Upanishads. The style of writing reflects the short aphorisms found in Sutra works. The imagery and symbolism are strongly Vedic. The vocabulary depends heavily on the Vedic glossary Nighantu and its commentary by Yaska known as the Nirukta. The name of Yaska is found on at least two seals ‹ possibly three. There are references to Vedic kings and sages as well place names. Of particular interest are references to Plakshagra ‹ the birthplace of the Sarasvati River, and Sapta Apah or the Land of the Seven Rivers.

This means that the Rigveda must already have been quite ancient by the time of the Harappan Civilization. Since the Harappan Civilization was known to be flourishing in the 3100 ­ 1900 BC period, the Rigveda must have been in existence by 4000 BC. This now receives archaeological support following R.S. Bisht¹s investigation of the great Harappan city of Dholavira. Bisht (and other archaeologists) have concluded that the Vedic Aryans of the Sarasvati heartland were the people who created the Harappan cities and the civilization associated with it. Our deciphered readings tell us the same thing.

Message of the Indus seals

I will not present the decipherment here which both Jha and I have discussed in detail at other places. I will only note that the script is a highly complex hybrid that includes (1) an alphabetical subset (2) a large number of composite signs and (3) numerous pictorial symbols. The language of the Harappan texts is Vedic Sanskrit, and the script itself is heavily influenced by the rules of Sanskrit grammar and phonetics. It is clear that the later Brahmi script is a derivative of the Harappan that evolved borrowing heavily from its alphabetical subset. In fact, there exist examples of writing that combine features of both. It is therefore reasonable to call the Harappan script Old Brahmi or Proto Brahmi. Its decipherment was the result of more than twenty years of research by Jha ‹ a Vedic scholar and paleographer of considerable distinction. As previously observed, Jha and I have read close to 2000 seals for most of these we have also found references in the Vedic literature, particularly the Nighantu and the Nirukta of Yaska. With this body of material, we are now in a position to take a broad look at what these seals have to say about the people who created them. This is particularly necessary in the light of a couple of highly publicized claims over the contents of the seals made in the last few months. One linguist (Malati Shengde) has claimed that the language of the Harappans was Akkadian, a West Asiatic language. This claim, made without being able to read the writing, is not supported by our decipherment. The language of the seals is Vedic Sanskrit, with close links to Vedantic works like the Upanishads. For instance, we have found and deciphered a seal which contains the word shadagama (shat agama) ‹ a reference to the six schools Vedantic knowledge. This shows that they must already have been in existence before 2000 BC. (Most of the seals were created in the 3100 ­ 1900 BC period.)

Another recent claim by a retired archaeologist (M.V. Krishna Rao) relates to the career of Sri Rama. According to Krishna Rao, the Harappan seals tell us that Rama was born not in Ayodhya, but in the present state of Haryana. He further claims that according to his study of the seals, Rama invaded Babylon and defeated and killed the famous Babylonian ruler Hammurabi whom he equates with Ravana! This account, if true, would call for a radical revision of both Indian and Babylonian history. Hammurabi is a well-known historical figure. He is known to have died in 1750 BC of natural causes and not killed in battle. His date therefore is too late to have found mention in the Harappan seals. We have no such sensational findings to report. Our fairly extensive readings indicate that the seals contain little in the way of history. To begin with, the writings on the seals are brief, with an average length of five to six characters. This makes them unsuitable for recording historical details. Whatever historical information we do find is incidental. There are occasional references to Vedic kings like Sudasa, Yadu and Puru, and to sages like Kutsa and Paila. We find also references to ancient places like Plaksagra (birthplace of the Sarasvati river), Sapta-Apah or the Land of the Seven Rivers referred to in the Vedic literature. But such Œhistorical¹ seals are few and far between they probably do not exceed five percent of the total. Other historical information has to be inferred from indirect messages like the one about the six schools of Vedanta mentioned earlier.

References to Rama We do find references to Rama, but they are nowhere near as dramatic as his invasion of Babylonia and the killing of Hammurabi-Ravana. Seals speak of kanta-rama or ŒBeloved Rama¹, and kanta-atma-rama or ŒBeloved Soul Rama¹. One seal in particular speaks of samatvi sa ha rama meaning ŒRama treated all with equality¹. All this finds echo in the Valmiki Ramayana as Œarya sarva samashcaiva sadaiva priyadarshanah¹, or ŒArya to whom all were equal and was dear to everyone.¹

There is also a reference to Rama performing a successful fire ritual (or launching a fire missile) which again is mentioned in the Ramayana. There is another reference to Rama¹s successful crossing of the sea which again touches on the Ramayana. Of particular interest is the presence of ŒRama¹ in at least one West Asiatic seal from pre-Sargon layer in southern Mesopotamia. We know from Zoroastrian scripture that Rama was well known in ancient West Asia. The readings suggest that this goes back to a period long before 2500 BC. What is interesting in all this is that Rama is treated as an ideal man and ruler loved by everyone nowhere have we found anything to suggest that he was regarded as divine. All this suggests that history books are in need of major revision. The Aryan invasion stands shattered, the Proto Dravidians are found to be a myth, and the cradle of civilization ‹ assuming there was such a thing ‹ is not Mesopotamia but Vedic India. Also, a version of the story of Rama existed five thousand years ago, and known both in India and West Asia. And the Sanskrit language ‹ at least the Vedic version of it ‹ is of untold antiquity it was certainly not brought to India by invading nomads in the second millennium.

Floods and maritime activity

To return to the seals and their contents, such Œhistorical¹ seals are exceptional. A great majority of the seals are different in character and content. Often their texts can be quite mundane. We find a reference to a craftsman by name Ravi whose products last twice as long as those made by other craftsmen (dvi-ayuh). One inscription speaks of a short-tempered mother-in-law there is even mention of relieving fever with the help of water from a saligrama (fossil stone) ‹ a remedy still followed in many Indian households. We find numerous references to rivers (apah) and Œflows¹ (retah), suggesting the existence of an extensive system of waterways. We have texts like a madra retah (flow to the Madra country), and a vatsa retah (flow to the Vatsa country) indicating their presence. The Vedic Civilization was of course largely a maritime one, as indeed was the Harappan ‹ a fact noted by David Frawley. The seals confirm it. There is recent archaeological evidence suggesting the presence of Indian cotton in Mexico and Peru dating to 2500 BC and earlier (Rajaram and Frawley 1997), which again suggests maritime activity. As noted earlier, archaeological evidence also supports the fact that the Vedic people (and the Harappans) engaged in maritime activity. References to floods are common, and can sometimes be quite vivid. There is a particularly dramatic inscription, which speaks of workers laboring all night by fire, trying to stem the floods. The readings suggest that the floods were due to the encroachment of seawater and not necessarily the rivers. These messages should be of interest to archaeologists who have noted the damage to sites due to floods and salination. The great Harappan city of Dholavira in Gujarat is a striking example.

Vedic symbolism

While historical references are rare, and many seals contain much mundane material, a substantial number of seals have messages reflecting Vedic symbolism. This symbolism can be quite profound, and one has to dig deep into the Vedic and Vedantic literature in trying to interpret them. But once understood, it helps to explain the symbolism of the images on the seals also. This can be illustrated with the help of the famous Pashupati seal, alongside its deciphered text.

The seal contains a meditating horned deity surrounded by five animals. The animals are ‹ elephant, musk deer, buffalo, tiger and rhinoceros. These five animals are often identified with the five senses, and the five associated elements ‹ fire, water, space, wind and earth (or soil). These elements that go to make up the material universe are known in the Vedic literature as panca maha-bhutas or the Five Great Elements. The reading on the seal is ishadyatah marah. Mara is the force opposed to creation ‹ one that causes the destruction of the universe. The seal message means: Mara is controlled by Ishvara. The seated deity is of course a representation of Ishvara.

Hindu cosmology holds that both creation and destruction of the universe result from the action of the Five Great Elements. So Mara, the destructive force, is also composed of the Five Great Elements. With this background, the deciphered message ishadyatah marah allows us to interpret the symbolism of the famous Pashupati seal. It expresses the profound idea, that, in every cosmic cycle, both the creation and the destruction of the universe are caused by the action of the panca maha-bhutas (Five Great Elements) under the control of Ishvara. This remarkable interpretation was decoded and brought to my notice by Jha.

We find numerous such seals with close links to the Vedic and Vedantic literature our book includes several such interpretations. The written messages are brief in the form known as Œsutras¹ to Sanskrit scholars. These are short formula-like aphorisms made famous by such works as Panini¹s grammar, and Patanjali¹s celebrated Yogasutra. They invariably need elaboration. An example is the message ishadyatah marah just described. The seals are products of the same cultural, and, no doubt, historical milieu. Thus they confirm the earlier findings of Sethna and this writer that the Harappan Civilization overlapped with the Sutra period. This is what Frawley and I in our book have called the ŒSutra-Harappa- Sumeria equation¹. (We have also found mathematical formulas on a few seals.) All this provides a window on the Harappan world, and calls for a complete revision of Vedic history and chronology.

In summary, one may say that the deciphered seals, while they may not contain much in the way of history, they do provide a clear historical context for the Harappans by establishing a firm link between Harappan archaeology and the Vedic literature. Thanks to the deciphered seals, the Harappans, who until now had been left dangling like the legendary king Trishanku, find at last a place in history ‹ in Vedic India. The Harappans were the Vedic Harappans. The Rigveda therefore must go back well into the fifth millennium. If there was a cradle of civilization, it was Vedic India, not Sumeria. This recognition is bound to bring about a revolution in our understanding of history.

Discover more programmes from A History of the World in 100 Objects about communication

Location: Indus Valley (Pakistan, India)
Culture: Ancient South Asia
Period: About 2550-2000 BC
Material: Stone

This seal was found in the 1870s and led to the discovery of an ancient civilisation in the Indus Valley. It was probably used to close documents and mark packages of goods. This suggests that the Indus civilisation was part of an extensive long-distance trading network. The animal on this seal was originally mistaken for a unicorn but is now thought to be a bull. The seals carry the oldest writing in South Asia. It has yet to be deciphered.

What was the Indus Civilisation?

The earliest civilisation in South Asia developed along the Indus river and India's western coast. The Indus civilisation produced writing, built large cities and controlled food production through a central government. Unlike Egypt and Mesopotamia, the Indus civilisation was not dominated by powerful religious elites. No temples were built and no images of state gods or kings have been found. Deforestation, climate change and a series of invasions all contributed to the Indus civilisation's decline in 1500 BC.

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We have no idea what the once-prosperous city&rsquos name was in its time. Even if inscriptions found in the city say what it was called, we wouldn&rsquot know. Indus script remains to be deciphered.

However, we can say that the Indus Valley civilization, aka the Harappan civilization, is the earliest known urban constellation in the Indian subcontinent, and survived until at least 1,700 B.C.E.

Sophisticated drainage system at Mohenjo Daro Sheema Siddiqui

The excavations of Mohenjo Daro began upon its discovery but more professional archaeological explorations were carried out 1922-1930 under Sir John Marshall, the Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India (1906-1928).

It turned out that the Indus people not only had command of sophisticated urban planning but irrigated their crops, even growing rice they had a command of metallurgy and (most agree) they could write, not that we know what they were saying.

Much is unknown about the spread of human advances versus independent development in multiple places. The innovations in the Indus Valley may have included irrigation, though perhaps it spread from Mesopotamia. Animal domestication in the Indus River Valley was also partly independent and partly a matter of diffusion. In the early Neolithic, the Indus people may have independently tamed the same animals as in the Near East: goats and cattle, then sheep, as well as local creatures such as the Indian aurochs &ndash purportedly the ancestor of the modern zebu, and the water buffalo. This is supported by discoveries at Mehrgarh, a Neolithic farming village going back perhaps 10,000 years on the banks of the Bolan River in Baluchistan, Pakistan. Mehrgarh is about 280 kilometers from Mohenjo Daro.

To what degree animal husbandry and crop cultivation were independently developed in the Indus Valley and how much was learned from elsewhere remains debated. But clearly the Indus Valley people, Egyptians and Mesopotamians &ndash all river valley dwellers &ndash were among the first known to use systematic weights and measurement systems, contributing to domestic harmony and facilitating far-flung trade.

For the Indus, this standardization helped them establish an international trading network and to establish merchant colonies in foreign regions, as attested by the discovery of seals with Indus script as far away as the Arabian Gulf, the city of Ur in Mesopotamia and in Lothal, Gujarat, India.

Unicorn, elephant and ox-like beasts seen as animal motifs on Indus seals with Indus script Technical Consultative Committee

Whispers in Indus script

But the evolution of the Indus script remains baffling. Early writing is commonly associated with the Sumerians along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in southern Mesopotamia, the ancient Egyptians along the Nile, and the ancient Chinese along the Huang He River. But although it shares some elements with other early writing, the form of the Indus script has unique elements, suggesting it may have developed indigenously.

The earliest potters&rsquo marks in the subcontinent date to 6,500 years ago and were found in Harappa, and clearer writing emerged around 5,300 years ago, according to Jonathan Mark Kenoyer of the University of Wisconsin, an expert on the Indus Valley. That is roughly the same period of proto-cuneiform emerging in Mesopotamia and hieroglyphic writing in Egypt.

The more orderly Indus script incorporating some of the early potters&rsquo marks remained in use until about 1850 B.C.E., possibly longer in some pockets.

&ldquoIndus script is made up of a collection of pictographic signs and human and animal motifs, including the unicorn,&rdquo says Dr. Asma Ibrahim, director of the State Bank Museum and a renowned archeologist of Pakistan, who believes it was the earliest form of writing.

Bull seal with Indus script found at Mohenjo Daro Technical Consultative Committee

Most of the inscriptions are brief: five marks on average, and the longest found to date has just 27. They are found mostly on flat stamp seals, tools, tablets, ornaments and pottery, she says.

What any of it means is another matter. &ldquoSocieties in the deep past have always been an enigma,&rdquo Dr. Kaleemullah Lashari &ndash chairman of the Management Board for Antiquities & Physical Heritage, Government of Sindh tells Haaretz: It is difficult to explain artifacts and locations from the distant past because of the long disconnect between then and the present, he adds.

&ldquoIn such situation the inscriptions are always greatly helpful in providing the bases for the understanding of the ancient belief systems, dynasties, administrative systems, ruling groups, governing laws, etc.,&rdquo Lashari says. &ldquoTo their good fortune [at Mohenjo Daro] the excavators found a large number of seals and other objects comprising the Indus signs but it has turned into their frustration, when these signs couldn&rsquot be read or explained.&rdquo

Their brevity isn&rsquot helpful. Elsewhere, early writing was used to prepare documents (from official records to gripes to hexes). Attempts to decipher Indus script go back to its discovery, Ibrahim says. &ldquoMore than a hundred attempts of decipherment have been published,&rdquo she adds &ndash and maybe, after all, progress is being made. Some scholars of Indus valley script believe it was generally used by the elite to record and control transactions of economic nature, as an administrative tool and for religious purposes. &ldquoAnother group of scholars believe it was used as mark of identification, as is mostly found on seals. Those might have been used as amulets,&rdquo she adds.

Advanced urban planning 4,600 years ago Sheema Siddiqui

Insights into Indus script, after all

No equivalent to the Rosetta Stone, key to interpreting ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, has been found. Yet through the fog of the ages, decades of analysis have achieved some insights.

Indus script was written from right to left, as are Hebrew and Arabic, according to Prof. Iravatham Mahadevan (who deciphered ancient Tamil-Brahmin inscriptions and died in 2018), based on &ldquocramped&rdquo symbols on the left of some inscriptions, where the scribe evidently ran out of room.

Atta Muhammad Bhanbhoro, a prominent Sindhi author, historian and translator, agreed: &ldquoIndus people were leftward writers. In the inscriptions on pottery and shell rods, the sign on the left is overlapped. It clearly shows that the sign on the right was inscribed first and it was followed by the sign on the left,&rdquo he wrote in his book &ldquoIndus Script.&rdquo That said, sometimes apparently the writing flowed in both directions.

The combinations of phonetic symbols, and pictographs of people, animals, buildings and even hills indicate that the writing was governed by grammar, Bhanbhoro wrote. &ldquoSome have geometric patterns mixed with the cursive signs that closely resemble [later] Roman characters as E, H, U, V, W, X and Y. There are linear signs I, II, III, IIII, IIIII, and so on which stand for cardinal numbers from 1 to 12 and 24,&rdquo he posited.

Among the anthropogenic images are an archer, a load carrier, a shield-wielding soldier and a praying man, he said. Bhanbhoro passed away on June 3, 2020, aged 90.

Urban planning in Mohenjo Daro included communal trash collection at street corners Tauseef Razi Malick

In addition to grammar, there seems to have been a long-term consistency: &ldquoThere is a very strange phenomenon in this script, that the seals from far below levels to upper carry almost the same pictographs,&rdquo Ibrahim adds.

At present, based on excavations and analyses of earlier survey materials, the belief is that the Indus script evolved in the Indus and Ghaggar-Hakra River Valleys and Baluchistan, now in Pakistan, beginning in the Early Harappan Period.

Its independent development was postulated early on. In 1924, experts at the British Museum, C.J. Gadd and Sidney Smith studying photographs of the seals published by Marshall in the Illustrated London News (a weekly that appeared from 1842 to 2003) found no connection between Indus and the early writing systems of Sumer and Egypt.

Asma Ibrahim however suspects there was seep. &ldquoThe Babylonians borrowed the Sumerian idiographic and syllabic script for writing their Semitic language. It is most probable that the same case was for the Indus script,&rdquo she says, adding that it has several other similarities to Sumerian pictographic writing.

It bears adding that a minority remains unconvinced Indus script is writing at all, in the sense that the symbols spell out phrases that would be used in speech. Mesopotamian cuneiform was used for basic accounting and was associated with ideology and political power. In Egypt the earliest writing was associated with royal burials and was the fief of elites. In ancient China, early writing was linked to communication with ancestors, elite culture and legitimization of both ideology and political authority. No specific association has been postulated for Indus script, though some wonder if the Indus script is an ancient, lost writing form of the classical Indo-European language Sanskrit.

Painting in Mohenjo Daro Museum that depicts the trade at the gate of Mohenjo Daro Tauseef Razi Malick

Alternatively, maybe Indus script is an amalgamation of independently-formulated symbols and borrowing. As many as 17 out of 24 cursive signs and their variants in the Indus writing system are akin to Semitic signs and their variants &ndash though in which direction the spread went, who can say. There were definitely trading ties and probably cultural influences between the Near East and the subcontinent.

&ldquoSeals from Indus Valley were also found from the Mesopotamian and Middle Eastern sites, and there were similar seals, following the design pattern, but with a different combination of signs,&rdquo Lashari tells Haaretz. &ldquoit is taken as evidence that the influence of the Indus culture was quite strong, and that it influenced the production of the seals in that region. Besides that, there are clear indications that the weights and measure system of Indus Valley is reflected in artifacts unearthed from Mesopotamian sites.&rdquo

&lsquoAbraham&rsquo statue in a godless city

The reverse side of the Pakistani 20-rupee note shows an image of Mohenjo Daro, since 1980 listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The people briskly exchanging the notes probably don&rsquot even know the symbolism of its history as a prehistoric trading power on the banks of the mighty Indus River.

Among many other places, Indus seals were found in the oldest part of the city of Ur. &ldquoThis ancient site of Ur is the birth place of Abraham the prophet (peace be upon him) and his birth even took place about 1800-1700 BC,&rdquo Bhanbhoro wrote.

This is why some religious mindsets identified the &ldquoPriest King&rdquo of Mohenjo Daro &ndash the sculpture of a seated male &ndash as the Patriarch Abraham.

Statue found at Mohenjo Daro known as the "Priest-King," though they apparently had neither gods nor kings Soban

The Priest King is made of steatite (soapstone). His hair is combed back, his beard neat and trimmed (as some believe Abraham groomed his facial hair). He has a headband with a circular inlay on his forehead and a cloth is slung over one shoulder, a garb compared to ehraam (aka ihram), the plain robe Muslims wear while performing hajj, the holy pilgrimage. However, the Priest King&rsquos cloth is patterned, a form that came to be associated with the traditional block-printed cloth in Sindh, called ajrak, which is sold in souvenir shops.

Not all archaeologists buy the theological theory behind the statue, especially since there is not a shred of evidence to back it up.

&ldquoThere has been very interesting branch of learning during the past two centuries, called Biblical Archaeology, where the sites were sometimes associated with the stories from the Bible,&rdquo Lashari explains. &ldquoIt is understandable that in its infancy, Biblical Archaeology supported a great number of speculations as correct, despite the fact that the scientific attitudes and the disciplines were discarded.&rdquo

For instance, he points out, when precisely Abraham lived is not established through a scientific measures. Secondly, the famous artifact, the Priest King, hasn&rsquot been dated authentically, let alone to a time associated with Abrahamic tradition. Thirdly&ndash the biblical interpretation of the statue assumes as fact that the story of Abraham was also equally important in the subcontinent. At this point, nobody serious is buying the notion, sums up Lashari, who on March 23, 2019 was awarded Sitara-e-Imitiaz, the third highest civil award, for his services to his field.

Another beguiling artifact unearthed at Mohenjo Daro is a provocative nude figurine made of bronze dubbed the Dancing Girl. Just 10.8 centimeters (4.25 inches) in height, she has small breasts, narrow hips, and long legs and arms. She wears a necklace and a stack of 25 bangles on her left arm, which rests on her outstretched left leg. She wears two bangles on her right wrist and two more above her right elbow: her right hand rests on her hip. Her head, with hair coiled in a bun, is tilted slightly backward and her left leg is bent at the knee as though about to tap to a dancing beat.

By the way, the Priest King and the Dancing Girl were taken in the 1930s by John Marshall and put on display at the National Museum in New Delhi. At the time of partition the experts and officials of both the newly constituted countries agreed to divide the cultural material among them, the so-called King Priest came to Pakistan, and the so-called Dancing Girl went to Bharat.

Despite the soubriquet of &ldquoPriest King&rdquo (or King Priest) for the male figurine, no traces of adherence to any religious ideology nor adoration of any monarch have been identified in Mohanjo Darom, according to archaeologists associated with the site. Nothing in the ruins smacks of palaces, temples, or monuments &ndash other than the &ldquoGreat Bath.&rdquo In a story on the site, National Geographic posits that the inhabitants had an ideology based on cleanliness, based on the uniqueness of the monumental Great Bath.

Absent evidence of monarchy, Mohenjo Daro could plausibly have been akin to a city-state with proto-democratic rule, historians suggest.

It is difficult to reach any conclusions about the belief system in an area as vast as the Indus Valley, Lashari qualifies. &ldquoUniformity in the material products doesn&rsquot mean uniformity in superstitions,&rdquo he points out. Possibly a whole pantheon existed in the imaginations of the people. However, as things stand, &ldquoNot much can be said about the beliefs, myths and superstitions of the Indus Valley people until the script is somehow deciphered,&rdquo he says.

Indeed. &ldquo[Decipherment] will end the speculations about this great civilization, especially of origin of religion. It is [the] largest civilization of the world extending over 1 million square kms across the plains of the Indus River from Arabian Sea to the Ganges, with the largest population, of five million people,&rdquo Ibrahim says. &ldquoThey had links with Gulf coast, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Oman and Bahrain. Once the script is deciphered, we will know about the structure of society in villages or towns, or across the greater civilization.&rdquo

A mysterious end

Why were the cities of the Indus civilization ultimately, if gradually, abandoned? There are still no answers for the ultimate breakdown of the Indus Valley civilization. Experts failed to find evidence of destruction. Possibly rivers changed course and/or the climatic conditions changed. A paper published in Nature Scientific Reports in 2015 based on finds in Bhirrana, in India, suggests that among the stresses, dietary change with the arrival of rice from East Asia spurred a gradual process of de-urbanization.

Perhaps further excavation can provide fresh clues, and also shed more light on the origin of the Indus script. Indeed, more excavations may be crucial to understanding the people of the Indus Valley and hopefully, after all this time, finally deciphering that script, Ibrahim says. Conservation is also essential because the site is under threat from pollution and soil salination &ndash and tourists. &ldquoThe flow of the visitors, especially during festival days when thousands of people are walking all over, is a big threat to the remains,&rdquo she says.

But further excavation of Mohenjo Daro may never happen. &ldquoDue to the soil condition, and the rising water level it is not advisable to open more grounds, lower new trenches, as the unearthed remains are prone to the effects of weathering,&rdquo Lashari explains. &ldquoBut the excavations are not the only means of investigation. It is the reason that the Chair of the Technical Consultative Committee for Mohenjo Daro has prepared plans for the new technologies, which are available, for augmenting non-destructive investigation.&rdquo

Planning is underway and funds should be made available soon for the purpose, he adds. Recently cores were extracted and are presently being studied, which will hopefully broaden our understanding of ancient Mohenjo Daro &ndash and its end.

Watch the video: The Indus Script DeMystified: Origins, Character and Disappearance