Archive for the ‘Indus civilization’ Category

Asko Parpola gets award from the controversial Karunanidhi!

April 4, 2010

Asko Parpola gets award from the controversial Karunanidhi!

Karunanidhi has been modern day racist Dravidian leader, who runs government in the name of “Dravidian race superiority” against the imaginary “Aryans”.

Just like Hitler, he believes that “Aryans” were responsible for the “downfall” of “Dravidians” and therefore, he has been waging perpetual war against those “Aryans”.

Now, the racist Karunanidhi has recognized that asko Parola has been responsible for indetifying the undeichiphered IVC script as “DRavidian” and therefore, he is awarded by that Dravidian racist leader!

Let us see the response of the academicians.

Already, his controversial “Tamil conference” is infested with various problems. The original Tamil Body had refused to participate in the conference.

Classical Tamil Award for Asko Parpola

Asko Parpola. Photo : N. Sridharan
THE HINDU Asko Parpola. Photo : N. Sridharan

Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi Classical Tamil Award: For his work on Dravidian hypothesis in interpreting Indus script, Asko Parpola gets the award in the name of controversial racist leader. Asko Parpola, leading authority on the Indus script and Professor Emeritus of Indology in the University of Helsinki, Finland, has been chosen for the Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi Classical Tamil Award for 2009. He was selected for his work on the Dravidian hypothesis in interpreting the Indus script because the Dravidian, as described by him, was very close to Old Tamil, an official release issued on Saturday said. Professor Parpola will receive a cash prize of Rs. 10 lakh, a citation and a memento during the World Classical Tamil Conference to be held in Coimbatore in June.

Selection appears to be more political than academic: His selection was made at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, who is also chairman of the Central Institute of Classical Tamil. Two hundred and thirty nominations were received from different countries, including Australia, U.S., the United Kingdom, Sri Lanka and Finland besides India. Administered by the Institute, the award was established out of a donation of Rs.1 crore made by Mr. Karunanidhi in July 2008. The amount is being deposited in the name of Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi Classical Language Trust.

Asko Parpola: Born in July 1941, Professor Parpola has devoted his life to the task of solving the Indus script. Since 1968, he has been stressing that the Indus civilisation and its writing are Dravidian. His research and teaching interests include Indus Civilisation, Samaveda, Vedic rituals, South Asian religions and pre-historic archaeology of South and Central Asia. His magnum opus “Deciphering the Indus Script” proposing Dravidian as the language of the Indus script has been hailed a classic in the field. His ‘Concordance to the Indus Texts’ has been serving as a valuable source for researchers. The two volumes of ‘The Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions,’ reproduced the original seals and their impressions.

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Richard Meadow on Indus script!

February 20, 2010

Indus: The Unvoiced Civilization, Press Release , 02/02/2010

“Indus: The Unvoiced Civilization” – Video and Discussion at Harvard University, C. Gopinath and Thomas Burke

“Indus, The Unvoiced Civilization,” a video and following discussion, was presented in the Harvard Science Center on January 10. The lecture was sponsored by the Harvard Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies in its ongoing Outreach lecture series on “Indian Society through the Ages.” The session was introduced by Dr. Bijoy Misra of the Outreach Committee, who outlined the progress of the series and summarized the lectures of the past months.

Ms. Nalini Gopinath, who presented the video, first offered an overview of facts that have hitherto come to light about the long-forgotten Indus civilization. For a 900-year span from about 2600 BCE to 1700 BCE a sophisticated urban civilization flourished in the region of the Rivers Indus and Gagghar-Hakra, extending to south to modern Gujarat and east nearly to Delhi. The territory was rich in many kinds of flora and fauna, which are now extinct there. Crops such as wheat, barley, millets, sesame and cotton were cultivated.  This sophisticated urban civilization had trading ties to Mesopotamia and the Arabian Peninsula. Seals bearing Indus characters have been found as far west as Abu Dhabi and Bahrain. These, together with a few Mesopotamian texts, point to a thriving trade between the Indus region and Western Asia.

The DVD Presentation titled “Indus:  The Unvoiced Civilization” lasted about one hour. It took the audience through the three most prominent sites – Harappa, Mohenja-Daro and Dholavira. It depicted the archeological finds, such as carnelian jewelry, pottery and seals. The urban centers of Harappa (Punjab), Mohenjo-Daro (Sindh), Dholavira (Gujarat), and Rakhigarhi (Haryana) as well as many smaller settlements reveal a concern for urban planning and sometimes include very sophisticated drainage and water storage systems. Mohenjo-daro, in particular, had many wells, while Dholavira was designed to channel rainwater into huge reservoirs. Harappa had both wells and tanks. It is speculated that as many as 40,000 people may lived in the city of Harappa and about 20,000 in Dholavira.

The presentation was followed by a lively question and answer session with Dr. Richard Meadow, who appeared in the film and participated in the excavations of Harappa. The questions pertained to the script and the extent of the civilization. Dr. Meadow explained that a total of 400-600 characters have been identified from the various Indus inscriptions. No single inscription contains more than 17 characters. We do not know which language or languages were spoken in the Indus region. None of the many attempts which have been made to decipher the script have gained general acceptance. Sites of the civilization have been found as far as  northern Afghanistan.  Gaps in the archeological record do not permit us to speak of cultural continuity from the Indus civilization to the modern day, but many undeniable similarities suggest possible survivals.

Question and Answers by Dr. Richard Meadow

Why is the script not deciphered as yet?
We do not know which language or languages were spoken in the Indus valley. We have no bilingual inscriptions, no known inscription of more than 17 characters, and no obvious successor script. There is a theory that the characters do not reflect spoken language but are non-linguistic symbols, although this is widely debated.

How many characters have been identified so far?
About 400-600, the larger number is arrived at by regarding some similar characters as being separate.

How come there is so much evidence of trade out of the Indus region but no evidence of imported goods?
It is speculated that imports were mainly perishable items like textiles, which have not survived.

Why is there little evidence of tombs like those found in Mesopotamia and Western Asia?
Although few tombs are known, there are some sites at which have been found a large number of burials, for example at Harappa and at Farmana (Haryana). There seems to be no evidence so far that the Indus people had very rich graves of the kind known in ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, or China. One must also remember that the long-lived Indus civilization left extensive remains, still largely unexplored. So far, excavations have in general uncovered only the topmost third of the many sites. “We still have only a hazy picture of the earlier phases of the culture,” as represented by the lower levels at the archaeological sites.

Why do archaeologists speak of a gap between the end of Indus culture and the beginning of the Vedic period, even though many of the Indus artifacts shown in the DVD are still in use today?
It is true that many cultural traits and artifacts may survive from an earlier into a later period. But it is methodologically problematic to speak of archeological continuity without some evidence of survival of artifacts in the interval between the two periods.

How far did the civilization extend?
Sites of the Indus civilization are found almost to the border of Central Asia in the northwest, east almost to Delhi, south almost to Mumbai, and west nearly to the Iranian border as well as to coastal Arabia.

Is it possible that some Indus people are buried in Western Asia in one of the 80,000 tombs found in Bahrain?
Evidence is still lacking.

Is it true that the British built the Indian Railway system using bricks from the Harappa site?
The sites were always known to the local people. The British first became aware of Indus sites in the early 1800s. In the 1850s the Archeological Survey of India began to scout them. When the British built the Northwest Railway in the 1860s they used vast quantities of ancient bricks from Harappa to prepare the roadbed for the tracks. All have probably disintegrated by now. The ancient people of Harappa themselves recycled bricks, reusing old ones in new structures.

What do the names Harappa and Mohenja-Daro mean?
These are the names used by the local people and they may possibly be very old. There is no convincing explanation of their meaning. We do not know what the Indus people called themselves. Mesopotamian texts seem to refer to the Indus region as Meluhha.

Where can we find the DVD?
It’s a Japanese production and can be procured on the internet. Harvard affiliates can borrow it from Tozzer Library.

The next lecture in the series will be “The Indus Civilization: Myth and Reality.” It will be presented by Dr. Richard Meadow of the Peabody Museum, Harvard University. Dr. Meadow will note that while the Indus civilization has often been characterized as highly structured, uniform, and unchanging, in fact it was a highly diverse, varied, and dynamic cultural phenomenon with many different kinds of sites with strong local and region characteristics that changed over time.  The lecture is scheduled for Sunday, 14 February in Hall A, Harvard Science Center, 1 Oxford Street, Cambridge, at 3.00 pm. Admission is free and all are invited.

http://www.lokvani. com/lokvani/ article.php? article_id= 6272

‘Earliest writing’ found

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/334517.stm

The fragments of pottery are about 5,500 years old

Exclusive by BBC News Online Science Editor Dr David Whitehouse

The first known examples of writing may have been unearthed at an archaeological dig in Pakistan.

So-called ‘plant-like’ and ‘trident-shaped’ markings have been found on fragments of pottery dating back 5500 years.

Dr Richard Meadow of Harvard University: “We may be able to follow the history of signs.”

They were found at a site called Harappa in the region where the great Harappan or Indus civilisation flourished four and a half thousand years ago.

Harappa was originally a small settlement in 3500 BC but by 2600 BC it had developed into a major urban centre.

[ image: Harappa was occupied until about 1900 BC]
Harappa was occupied until about 1900 BC

The earliest known writing was etched onto jars before and after firing. Experts believe they may have indicated the contents of the jar or be signs associated with a deity.

According to Dr Richard Meadow of Harvard University, the director of the Harappa Archaeological Research Project, these primitive inscriptions found on pottery may pre-date all other known writing.

Last year it was suggested that the oldest writing might have come from Egypt.

Clay tablets containing primitive words were uncovered in southern Egypt at the tomb of a king named Scorpion.

They were carbon-dated to 3300-3200 BC. This is about the same time, or slightly earlier, to the primitive writing developed by the Sumerians of the Mesopotamian civilisation around 3100 BC.

“It’s a big question as to if we can call what we have found true writing,” he told BBC News Online, “but we have found symbols that have similarities to what became Indus script.

[ image: Work at Harappa is likely to fuel the debate on early writing]
Work at Harappa is likely to fuel the debate on early writing

“One of our research aims is to find more examples of these ancient symbols and follow them as they changed and became a writing system,” he added.

One major problem in determining what the symbols mean is that no one understands the Indus language. It was unique and is now dead.

Dr Meadow points out that nothing similar to the ‘Rosetta Stone’ exists for the Harappan text.

The Rosetta Stone, housed in the British museum since 1802, is a large slab of black basalt uniquely inscribed with the same text in both Egyptian hieroglyphs and Greek.

Its discovery allowed researchers to decipher the ancient Egyptian script for the first time.

The Harappan language died out and did not form the basis of other languages.

Dr Meadow: “The earliest inscriptions date back to 3500 BC.”

“So probably we will never know what the symbols mean,” Dr Meadow told BBC News Online from Harappa.

What historians know of the Harappan civilisation makes them unique. Their society did not like great differences between social classes or the display of wealth by rulers. They did not leave behind large monuments or rich graves.

They appear to be a peaceful people who displayed their art in smaller works of stone.

Their society seems to have petered out. Around 1900 BC Harappa and other urban centres started to decline as people left them to move east to what is now India and the Ganges.

This discovery will add to the debate about the origins of the written word.

It probably suggests that writing developed independently in at least three places – Egypt, Mesopotamia and Harappa between 3500 BC and 3100 BC.

Indus civilisation reveals its volumetric system!

November 15, 2009
Indus civilisation reveals its volumetric system byT. S. Subramanian

 

Appearing in “The Hindu” dated 15-11-2009

http://beta.thehindu.com/news/national/article48883.eceNote: This is posted here for critical discussion and further research, as the involved media and persons many times do not provide opportunity for the views of others.

Dr. Bryan Well (unseen), an expert on Indus Valley Civilisation, holding a tablet at The Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Taramani, Chennai. Photo: M. Karunakaran

The Hindu Dr. Bryan Well (unseen), an expert on Indus Valley Civilisation, holding a tablet at The Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Taramani, Chennai. Photo: M. Karunakaran

Combination of `V’ signs and linear strokes were used to indicate volumes

The Indus civilisation had a volumetric system with inscriptions on ceramic vessels (glazed pots from Harappa) indicating that the sign ‘V’ stood for a measure, a long linear stroke equalled 10, two long strokes stood for 20 and a short stroke represented one, according to Bryan Wells, who has been researching the Indus script for more than 20 years.

These markings on the pots are identical to those found on the incised tablets and bas-relief tablets also found in Harappa, said Dr. Wells, who earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University for his thesis on “The Epigraphic Approaches to Indus Writing.” It is to be published as a book in 2010.

Besides, a ceramic vessel from Mohenjo-Daro, which had fragments of blue-coloured bangles inside, had one long stroke and seven short strokes inscribed on it. When these broken pieces were reconstructed with a computer, they turned out to be 17 bangles. This again established that one long stroke equalled 10 and each short stroke one, Dr. Wells said. He described the findings as “an important discovery” and “very interesting.”

Dr. Wells has proposed that “these sign sequences [sign ‘V’ plus numerals] are various values in the Indus volumetric system. The bas-relief tablets might have been used as ration chits or a form of pseudo-money with the repetitive use of ‘V’ paired with ||, |||, |||| relating to various values in the Indus volumetric system. The larger the ceramic vessel, the more strokes it has. This postulation can be tested by detailed measurements of whole ceramic vessels with clear inscriptions.”

For instance, he recently measured the volume of the three pots from Harappa, which are now with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) at Purana Quila in New Delhi. While the smallest of them had three long strokes and a ‘V’ sign, the bigger one had six long strokes and a ‘V’ sign and the biggest seven long strokes and a scale inscribed below it. When he measured their volumes, Dr. Wells found that the pot with three long strokes had an estimated volume of 27.30 litres, the vessel with six long strokes 55.56 litres and the one with seven 65.89 litres. Thus, the calculated value of one long stroke was 9.24 or approximately 10 litres.

Dr. Wells (58), who is now a Senior Researcher in the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Taramani here, has also focussed on creating an adequate sign list and corpus for the Indus script and the structural analysis of the Indus texts.

He said he first saw the pictures of these pots with markings in the “Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions,” edited by Asko Parpola and his colleagues. When he learnt that the pots were with the ASI at Purana Quila, Dr. Wells travelled there to measure their volumes.

No coincidence

It was Michael Jansen, another researcher on Indus civilisation, who discovered the pot with broken bangles at Mohenjo-Daro in 1987. What intrigued Dr. Wells was the text of one long stroke and seven short strokes inscribed on it. When he reconstructed these broken pieces, using their internal circumferences, with a computer, he found that 17 bangles must have remained intact inside. Besides, the rake sign in the Indus script had a value of hundred and the double rake sign, 200. “This is completely regular” and “not a result of coincidence,” he said. When the ‘V’ sign with linear strokes that occurred on the Harappan tablets were found repeated on a number of ceramic vessels, “it gave me the idea that the ‘V’ sign is probably a measure,” Dr. Wells explained.

It was possible that wages were paid in grain (from these vessels) dispersed from a centralised storage facility, or in the case of incised tablets, material for construction projects and other short-term projects was distributed. He asserted that “there is archaeological evidence bearing on this issue in the form of standardised ceramics with texts describing their contents.”

“Fish” for weights

Dr. Wells agreed with another Indus scholar Steve Bonta’s (Pennsylvania State University) theory that the “fish” sign in the script stood for weights. According to Dr. Bonta, the fish sign occurred frequently with numbers in the script and in clusters too. He later found that the Akkadian Sargonic texts referred to the weight systems of Dilmun (Bahrain) as “minus.” The system of weights from Dilmun was exactly the same as that of the Indus system. Dr. Bonta, who speaks Tamil, realised that “min” in Tamil meant fish. “So our theory is that the term “minus” is derived from the Indus and that the fish are weights,” Dr. Wells said. There were fish signs with one long stroke, two long strokes, a single rake or a double rake. “So the sign graph is doubling and the value is doubling. I think this is too much of a coincidence. But I am aware that a lot of people will disagree with me on the fish sign,” he added.

Indus civilisation reveals its volumetric system T.S. Subramanian

http://www.hindu.com/2009/11/15/stories/2009111556932200.htm

Combination of ‘V’ signs and linear strokes were used to indicate volumes

— Photo credits: Bryan Wells

(Above) The three pots from Harappa with volumetric inscriptions on them. Calculations indicate that the Indus volumetric system is based on multiples of 9.24 litres. (Below) A reconstruction of broken bangles from the Moneer area of Mohenjo-Daro. The number of reconstructed bangles (17) matches the number from the sealing text on the pot that had the broken bangles inside. The other photo shows Indus fish signs.

CHENNAI: The Indus civilisation had a volumetric system with inscriptions on ceramic vessels (glazed pots from Harappa) indicating that the sign ‘V’ stood for a measure, a long linear stroke equalled 10, two long strokes stood for 20 and a short stroke represented one, according to Bryan Wells, who has been researching the Indus script for more than 20 years.

These markings on the pots are identical to those found on the incised tablets and bas-relief tablets also found in Harappa, said Dr. Wells, who earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University for his thesis on “The Epigraphic Approaches to Indus Writing.” It is to be published as a book in 2010.

Besides, a ceramic vessel from Mohenjo-Daro, which had fragments of blue-coloured bangles inside, had one long stroke and seven short strokes inscribed on it. When these broken pieces were reconstructed with a computer, they turned out to be 17 bangles. This again established that one long stroke equalled 10 and each short stroke one, Dr. Wells said. He described the findings as “an important discovery” and “very interesting.”

Dr. Wells has proposed that “these sign sequences [sign ‘V’ plus numerals] are various values in the Indus volumetric system. The bas-relief tablets might have been used as ration chits or a form of pseudo-money with the repetitive use of ‘V’ paired with ||, |||, |||| relating to various values in the Indus volumetric system. The larger the ceramic vessel, the more strokes it has. This postulation can be tested by detailed measurements of whole ceramic vessels with clear inscriptions.”

For instance, he recently measured the volume of the three pots from Harappa, which are now with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) at Purana Quila in New Delhi. While the smallest of them had three long strokes and a ‘V’ sign, the bigger one had six long strokes and a ‘V’ sign and the biggest seven long strokes and a scale inscribed below it. When he measured their volumes, Dr. Wells found that the pot with three long strokes had an estimated volume of 27.30 litres, the vessel with six long strokes 55.56 litres and the one with seven 65.89 litres. Thus, the calculated value of one long stroke was 9.24 or approximately 10 litres.


Dr. Wells (58), who is now a Senior Researcher in the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Taramani here, has also focussed on creating an adequate sign list and corpus for the Indus script and the structural analysis of the Indus texts.

He said he first saw the pictures of these pots with markings in the “Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions,” edited by Asko Parpola and his colleagues. When he learnt that the pots were with the ASI at Purana Quila, Dr. Wells travelled there to measure their volumes.

No coincidence

It was Michael Jansen, another researcher on Indus civilisation, who discovered the pot with broken bangles at Mohenjo-Daro in 1987. What intrigued Dr. Wells was the text of one long stroke and seven short strokes inscribed on it. When he reconstructed these broken pieces, using their internal circumferences, with a computer, he found that 17 bangles must have remained intact inside. Besides, the rake sign in the Indus script had a value of hundred and the double rake sign, 200. “This is completely regular” and “not a result of coincidence,” he said. When the ‘V’ sign with linear strokes that occurred on the Harappan tablets were found repeated on a number of ceramic vessels, “it gave me the idea that the ‘V’ sign is probably a measure,” Dr. Wells explained.

It was possible that wages were paid in grain (from these vessels) dispersed from a centralised storage facility, or in the case of incised tablets, material for construction projects and other short-term projects was distributed. He asserted that “there is archaeological evidence bearing on this issue in the form of standardised ceramics with texts describing their contents.”

“Fish” for weights

Dr. Wells agreed with another Indus scholar Steve Bonta’s (Pennsylvania State University) theory that the “fish” sign in the script stood for weights. According to Dr. Bonta, the fish sign occurred frequently with numbers in the script and in clusters too. He later found that the Akkadian Sargonic texts referred to the weight systems of Dilmun (Bahrain) as “minus.” The system of weights from Dilmun was exactly the same as that of the Indus system. Dr. Bonta, who speaks Tamil, realised that “min” in Tamil meant fish. “So our theory is that the term “minus” is derived from the Indus and that the fish are weights,” Dr. Wells said. There were fish signs with one long stroke, two long strokes, a single rake or a double rake. “So the sign graph is doubling and the value is doubling. I think this is too much of a coincidence. But I am aware that a lot of people will disagree with me on the fish sign,” he added.