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Author Topic: Sarasvati Hieroglyphs, Decipherment of Indus Script  (Read 168 times)
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« on: July 15, 2007, 05:50:59 PM »

News from the seal studies/epigraphic group.


Saturday, June 30, 2007

Sub: Sarasvati hieroglyphs, Decipherment of Indus Script

Excerpts from email exchanges

11 April 2007

Dear Massimo Bonasorte,

It is indeed a pleasure to hear from you again. Please do send me a copy of the publication which will contain my answers to your incisive questions. Wishing you all the best in your endeavors to unravel the mists of history and the mysteries related to the competence of our brilliant ancestors. Here are the answers to each of the 31 questions. Best regards, Kalyanaraman, Ph.D., Director, Sarasvati Research Centre. 11 April 2007 (Answers to questions raised on 29 March 2007).

Dr Kalyanaram which is exactly your field of studies?

I have published an 8-volume encyclopaedic work on River Sarasvati and civilization; Indian Alchemy: soma in the Veda (2006, Delhi, Munshiram Manoharlal); set up a website with over 40,000 files on Sarasvati: http://www.hindunet.org/saraswati. I have also published a comparative multi-lingual dictionary of 25 ancient Indian languages after working on for over 20 years. It is called 'Indian Lexicon' and can be accessed with search facilities on the internet:

http://hindunet.org/saraswati/dictionary/0000intro.htm http://hindunet.org/saraswati/html/indlexmain.htmCan also be downloaded from http://rapidshare.com/files/5736944/Indian_Lexicon.doc.html

Before focusing on your discovery, could we make a general picture of the Mohenjo Daro culture?

It is a maritime, riverine civilization with contacts over an extensive area ranging from the foothills of Himalayas (Ropar) to Tigris-Euphrates (Mesopotamian civilization). Remarkable findings relate to processing of alloys, working with s'ankha (turbinella pyrum or conch-shell) since 6500 Before Common Era (BCE), lapidary crafts, building of boats and structures such as the Dholavira rock-cut reservoir.

Who were they in reality and which were the major centres of that people?

They were ancestors of the present-day Indian people, Santali (or Austro-asiatic speakers) in particular. There were over 2000 archaeological settlements on the banks of Vedic River Sarasvati and about 600 on River Sindhu ( Indus). The creators of the writing system were the metalsmiths.

And, above all, were they indigenous or did they come to India from somewhere else?

They were indigenous to India. This is proved by the existence of a linguistic area on the river basin and along the ocean-rim (linguistic area is where people speaking various languages interact and absorb language features from one another and make them their own).

Why is mystery frequently involved when someone talks about Mohenjo Daro?

The mystery is involved because many attempts made at decipherment of over 4000 epigraphs have floundered assuming the script to be alphabetic or syllabic. In fact, the writing system was hieroglyphic, each glyph represented a word read rebus (similar sounding) to communicate substantive items such as the repertoire of a smithy and professions of artisans of artisan-guilds. Once the decipherment is emphatic as I have proved, the continuity of the Sarasvati civilization is seen in many cultural metaphors in present-day India: for example, continuum of s'ankha industry since 6500 BCE, use of s'ankha bangles, use of s'ivalinga, wearing of red vermilion on the parting of the hair by women, use of cire perdue (lost-wax) technique for making bronze statues, continuum of use of glyphs such as svastika, elephant, tiger, rhinoceros, rim of narrow-necked jar, zebu (brahmi) bull on punch-marked coins since 6 th century BCE all over India from Gandhara (Afghanistan) to Karur (South India) or on a pre-mauryan Sohgaura copper plate (which contains a line of Sarasvati hieroglyphs followed by an explanation in brahmi script of the facilities provided to metalsmiths and metal merchants during a period of drought at a junction of three roads)..

Let's focus on your discovery now: How did you find it out?

My 'Indian Lexicon' helped me identify the words from Indian languages which matched with the glyphs of the writing system and also conveyed through homonyms (similar-sounding words) the substantive meanings related to the repertoire of a smithy or mint or smith's workshop. There are over 230 copper plates with inscriptions apart from metal artifacts inscribed and two tin ingots inscribed with the glyphs (the ingots were discovered in a ship-wreck as far as Haifa, Israel).

How does the writing system of the seals work?

Simple. Each glyph is associated with a word to convey the image, for e.g. tiger with head turned backwards, antelope with head turned backwards, elephant, rhinoceros, alligatator, lizard, horned person ligatured to the back of a bull, rim of a narrow-necked jar, wide-mouthed pot, svastika, endless knot. The words related to these images have homonyms (similar sounding words in Indian languages); these words relate to smithy: for example, minerals, metals, alloys, types of furnaces, smith's workshops, fire-altars, smelters.

Which is the language used in the seals?

Mleccha, Meluhha. The writing system is mentioned by Vatsyayana in Vidyasamuddes'a (Kamasutra listing 64 arts) as mlecchita vikalpa, which means: writing system or cryptography of mleccha, copper workers. Mleccha-mukha in Sanskrit means 'copper'; so does milakku in Pali language. A Meluhha merchant is shown carrying a goat on a cylinder seal with cuneiform epigraph accompanied by a woman carrying a kamandalu (a jar of alchemists or smiths); the goat is read as: mr..eka; homonym read rebus: melukka 'the person from meluhha or coppersmith'.

Do we have other samples of this writing system on other materials?

Yes. Apart from seals and tablets, the writing appears on a huge advertisement board mounted on Dholavira fortification gate, on metal weapons such as daggers or axes or celts, on copper plates, on pottery, on potsherds, on bangles, even on gold ornaments such as a strip worn on forehead by eminent persons (patta) or worn as marriage-badge, on pure tin ingots. Seal impressions have also been found as sealings of packages with traded goods (thus, the writing system is like a bill of lading of metals and alloys traded and processes/furnaces used to produce the ingots.) The tin ingots show glyphs reading: ranku 'antelope'; ranku 'liquid measure'; substantive rebus: ranku 'tin'. Prof. Muhly provides an insight that metal technology necessitated this writing system. The writing system helped in trading commodities (metals, alloys, minerals) surplus to the needs of the makers of the products who were sea-faring merchants from Meluhha (mleccha). Mleccha is mentioned as the spoken language used by Yudhishthira while discussing with Vidura and Khanaka (a mine-worker) about shellack palace designed to destroy the Pandavas in Mahabharata epic. Mleccha is the ungrammatical lingua franca as distinct from the grammatical bhaasha such as proto-Sanskrit.

Which is your opinion about former theories that tried to interpret the seals?

Former theories assumed wrongly that the glyphs (signs in particular, as distinct from pictorial motifs or field symbols) were syllabic or alphabetic. The theories also ignored an interpretation of the pictorial motifs or field symbols which dominate the epigraphed objects. Only some theories have suggested that the symbols or motifs were 'totem' symbols without explaining how they were 'pronounced'. My decipherment is emphatic and treates all glyphs as words (all glyphs means all signs and all pictorial motifs). The method of reading the meaning of words is to cite homonyms (similar-sounding words) which relate to smithy or mine-working.

What is represented on the seals and which are the images that appear more frequently on them?

The most frequent images are: heifer (young bull with one horn and pannier); lathe-cum-portable furnace as a standard device often shown in front of the heifer, rim of a narrow-necked jar, zebu (brahmi) bull, short-horned bull, antelope, goat, ram, rhinoceros, elephant, tiger, woman ligatured to a tiger, svastika, dotted circle, fish, alligator.

In your opinion, Mohenjo Daro culture was just a stand-alone case or are there other cultures that can be linked to that enigmatic civilization?

There are cultures which can be linked to what I call Sarasvati Civilization. These cultures are present even today in India. These cultures had contacts with Mesopotamia across the Persian Gulf since the merchants were riverine, maritime people, sea-farers and boat-people. The rivers and coastline were the highways for these contacs over a distance of over 3000 kms.

Are you aware of the decoding work on the seals by Dr. Rchter Ushanas?


Is there any link between the seals and the secret writing system mlekkita vikalpa?

The writing system of Sarasvati civilization IS mlecchita vikalpa (writing system of mleccha or coppersmith). Vikalpa means 'alternative' or 'writing of spoken words'. Mlecchita means 'made by mleccha (meluhha)'. Milakku means 'copper'; mleccha-mukha means 'copper'. Mukha means 'face'; hence the human face is ligatured to a composite animal; the rebus homonym is mu~h 'ingot (metal)'.

Decoding the texts, which kind of script did you find? Syllabic, ideographic or�

Glyphs representing words. Hence, I find hieroglyphs which I call Sarasvati hieroglyphs since the majority of about 80% of the archaeological sites are on the banks of River Sarasvati in north-west India.

What is written in the texts?

Lists of minerals, metals, alloys, tools, furnace types, smelter types, workshops, smithy, forge, mint.

Are there any part of the texts or seals that remain a mystery?

Some glyphs are stylized like quotation marks, some fish have ligatures of fins, some are just dots. Such glyphs can be read only in context of the entire epigraph and comaparable epigraphs.

Did you find any link with the mesopotamic culture?

Yes. I found many Mesopotamian cylinder seals carrying the Sarasvati hieroglyphs. These seals have NOT so far been interpreted satisfactorily. It is possible that my decipherment may help in a fresh look at the pictorial motifs on may such cylinder seals. There is evidence that Meluhha people were living in Persian Gulf region who could have been intermediaries of trade since there is evidence for the use of similar weighing systems and finds of epigraphs containing Sarasvati hieroglyphs. Mesopotamia needed tin; Meluhhan sea-faring merchants provided this mineral together with other minerals, metals and metal alloys. Ayo means 'fish'; ayas means 'metal'.

In your opinion, your discovery could change the understanding of ancient cultures?

Yes. The received wisdom of evolution and development metallurgical technology has to be reviewed. It appears that the transition from lithic (stone) to chalcolithic (copper-stone) to meals phases was one leap since both bronze and iron metals were worked on in the second millennium Before Common Era (on Sarasvati and Ganga river valleys).

Did you get any information unknown before from the texts?

Yes. I got information on the remarkable explorations which resulted in the finds of many minerals and working to create many alloys and the use of special types of furnaces for special types of products ( e.g., pottery furnace, copper furnace, iron-smelting furnace, bangle-making furnace).

Why did you theorize a link between the seals, sumeric script and Brahmi?

I did NOT theorize any link of this kind. I noted however the presence of some Sumerian words which are said to relate to a pre-sumerian substrate language; words such as: sanga 'priest', tibira 'merchant'; cognates are: sanghvi 'priest' (Gujarati); tambra 'copper' (Sanskrit).

What do you think of the Asko Parpola Hypothesis?

Asko Parpola assumes that the script is logosyllabic and that the underlying language is Dravidian. I reject both assumptions. The 'script' or 'writing system' is hieroglyphic; the underlying language is mleccha (meluhha), the vernacular of Indian linguistic area.
Is there any kind of relationship between Sumeric and Brahmi?

I do not know.

Could you tell us about the images on the seal DK 6847, now in the National Museum of Pakistan, Karachi? The 7 women carved on it really represent the 7 Pleiads?

Yes, yes. The word for the seven women are: bahula 'pleiades' (Sanskrit); read rebus: bangala 'gold furnace' (Telugu).

How could they observe the Pleiads with naked eyes at that time?

The ancient astronomy texts of India do refer to the sapta rishi mandala (constellation of seven sages). The Pleiades are a clearly recognizable structure of seven stars on a clear sky. These are also called krittikaa which rise in the east as mentioned in a 25 th century Before Common Era text called Kaus'itaki Brahmana. See: http://www.ejvs.laurasianacademy.com/ejvs0602/ejvs0602.txtArticle by Prof. Narahari Achar.

In Mesopotamia too they have a similar seal with 7 stars and a 12th planet. In your opinion, is there any relationship between those two seals?

I do not know.

Which is the link between the fish symbol and stars and planets?

I do not know the links with the planets. I think the fish symbol used with a number of variants can be read as fish species such as ayo, kola and related rebus to 'metal' or 'alloy of five metals (pancaloha)' respectively. See more at: http://sarasvati95.googlepages.com/fish.doc http://sarasvati95.googlepages.com/fish2.docDecipherment of fish glyphs on epigraphs: fish as Sarasvati hieroglyph (in two parts)

What do you think about Steve Farmer's studies on the evolution of thought and neurobiology?

It is mere speculation. Any evolutionary theory of thought can be read into the epigraphs, but every glyph has to be explained in a total schema. Just focusing on 'signs' without referring to and explaining the pictorial motifs such as the animals and anthropomorphs or ligatured animals or ligatured signs will turn out to be half-hearted conjectures, hence non-falsifiable.

How do you explain the similarities between the Mohenjo Daro seals and Rongo Rongo script from Easter Island?

I think Rongo-rongo script from Easter Island uses many glyphs comparable to Sarasvati hieroglyphs. This script may also be a list of property items of the community. Rongo-rongo itself is a mleccha word.

How does this kind of script work?

By the rebus principle. For example, to denote tin mineral, represented by the word 'ranku' in mleccha, the picture of an antelope (ranku) or liquid measure (ranku) is incised on the tin ingots. This glyph is followed by an X glyph which is read as: datu 'crossing'; Read rebus, this means, dhatu 'mineral'. Thus the two glyphs together read as: tin mineral that is, ranku dhatu.

Finally, Dr. Kalyanaram, on what are you working lately?

I am working on the evolution and formation of jaati bhaasha (lingua franca) in India. To start with, a methodological framework has been laid out. See: http://protovedic.blogspot.com/

This is tested in a monograph. See ebook to be downloaded from: http://rapidshare.com/files/1247326/bharatiyalanguages.pdf.html

This work is preparatory to the writing of the socio-cultural-economic history of Bharatam Janam (the nation of the people of Bharata or India) based on contributions made by jaati and janajaati to hindu civilization ethos, traditions and sanatana dharma (esha dhammo sanantano).

(Supplementary answer given on April 14, 2007)

Kindly include this in the answer related to Question 3. Regards, kalyan

I am basing this on the following evidences:

Bhaashaa is vernacular as distinct from chandas of Vedic mantra, but both are based on a proto-vedic continuum of language evolution. The Indian Lexicon provides evidence for the semantic unity among Bharatiya languages in a 'linguistic area' where people absorbed features from languages and made them their own.

1. Reference by Vatsyayana in Vidyasamuddes'a to mlecchita vikalpa as one of the 64 arts (together with des'a bhaashaa jnaana, akshara mushtika kathanam). I read mlecchita vikalpa as an alternative,a writing system made by mleccha, 'copper workers'.

2. References in Mahabharata attesting to use of mleccha as the lingua france in discussions between Yudhishthira and Khanaka (mine worker) and between Yudhishthira and Vidura in the context of the shadyantra by Duryodhana to kill Pandava in jaatugriha.

3. Users of mlecccha vaacas and aarya vaacas are dasyu. Mleccha is the vernacular; aarya is the grammatically correct version. The idea of para-munda is irrelevant. There are many austro-asiatic words in Rigveda. Indo-aryan, dravidian and austro-asiatic were all part of the linguistic area with people interacting with one another. Many words related to metallurgy which occur in Santali also occur in many bharatiya languages -- mleccha vaacas. I deny the need for IEL to unravel the formation and evolution of bharatiya languages and hence, the categories of indo-aryan, dravidian or austro-asiatic are irrelevant in relation to semantics of words, thousands of them with cognates in all bharatiya languages which could have happened only with a common cultural foundation, such as the invention of alloys and types of furnaces or smelters in a smith's workshop. People of hindu civilization exemplified by Sarasvati epigraphs are people who wore sindhur at manga, adored s'ivalinga, used s'ankha since 6500 BCE for bangles and for offering abhishekam, built pushkarini and gave the metaphors which continued on punch-marked coins as devices, devices such as svastika, rim of short-necked jar, zebu or brahmi bull, heifer, ox, elephant, tiger, rhinoceros or a person seated in penance -- kamad.ha read rebus: kampat.t.a 'mint'. The linguistic area of mleccha speakers is noted in the remarkable concordance between occurrence of minerals and occurrence of austro-asiatic speech continuum, a continuum from mleccha. (See slide with two maps attached).

� Manu notes ( 10.45): mukhaba_hu_rupajja_na_m ya_ loke ja_tayo bahih � mlecchava_cas' ca_ryava_cas te sarve dasyuvah smr.ta_h

� 'All those people in this world who are excluded from those born from the mouth, the arms, the thighs and the feet (of Brahma) are called Dasyus, whether they speak the language of the mleccha-s or that of the a_rya-s .'

� S'Br. upajigya_sya_m sa mlecchas tasma_n na bra_hman.o mlecched asurya_ hais.a_ va_g evam trans. 'he [who speaks thus] is a mleccha, hence let no bra_hman.a speak ungrammatical � mlecched -- language since such is the speech of Asuras'

� A Pali text, Uttara_dhyayana Sutra 10.16 notes: ladhdhan.a vi maanusattan.am aariattam pun.raavi dullaham bahave dasyoo milakkhuyaa; trans. 'though one be born as a man, it is rare chance to be an aarya, for many are the dasyu and milakkhu'. Milakkhu and dasyu constitute the majority, they are the many. Dasyu are milakkhu (mleccha speakers). Dasyu are also aarya vaacas (Manu 10.45), that is, speakers of Sanskrit. Both aarya vaacas and mleccha vaacas are bharatiya, dasyu, people. Mahabharata alludes to 'thousands of mlecchas', a numerical superiority equaled by their valour and courage in battle which enhances the invincibility of Pandava (MBh. 7.69.30; 95.36).

� Na_t.yas'a_stra XVII.29-30 ): dvividha_ ja_tibha_s.a_ ca prayoge samuda_hr.ta_ mlecchas'abdopaca_ra_ ca bha_ratam vars.am as'rita_ 'The ja_tibha_s.a_ (common language), prescribed for use (on the stage) has various forms. It contains words of mleccha origin and is spoken in Bha_ratavars.a only...

The mlecchaspeakers.ppt attached to this note can be found at

The questions were raised by Massimo Bonasorte on March 29, 2007:

Dear DR. Kalyanaraman, I am Dr. Massimo Bonasorte, we met some months ago for the mlekkita vikalpa language, finally I can publish the interview about the seals of the Indus Valley, i hope that you have time to answer me, because your interview will publish with the other interview of Dr. Ushanas, that have discovered the secret message of the seal, but i want to know also your opinion about the seal oh mohenjo daro and harappa. These are the questions (March 29, 2007)


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« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2007, 07:43:49 PM »

Mature Harappan "Priest King" statue, Mohenjo-daro, Wearing Sindhi Ajrak, late Mature Harappan period, National Museum, Karachi, Pakistan

Indus Valley Civilisation:

The Indus Valley Civilization (c. 3300�1700 BC, flourished 2600�1900 BCE), abbreviated IVC, was an ancient civilization that flourished in the Indus and Ghaggar-Hakra river valleys primarily in what is now western India and Pakistan. Another name for this civilization is the Harappan Civilization, after the first of its cities to be excavated, Harappa. Although the IVC might have been known to the Sumerians as Meluhha, the modern world discovered it only in 1922-23 as a result of archaeological excavations conducted by Rakhaldas Banerjee of the Archaelogical Department. The IVC may perhaps be a somewhat likely candidate for a Proto-Dravidian culture.[1] Alternatively, Proto-Munda, Proto-Indo-Iranian or a "lost phylum" are sometimes suggested for the language of the IVC (see Substratum in Vedic Sanskrit).[2]

The civilization is sometimes referred to as the Indus Ghaggar-Hakra civilization[3] or the Indus-Saraswati civilization. The appellation, Indus-Saraswati is based on the possible identification of the Ghaggar-Hakra River with the ancient Saraswati river of the Rig Veda,[4] but this usage is disputed.[5]

Extent and major sites of the Indus Valley Civilization (modern state boundaries shown in red). See [2] for a more detailed map

Early Harappan

The Early Harappan Ravi Phase, named after the nearby Ravi River, lasted from circa 3300 BCE until 2800 BCE. It is related to the Hakra Phase, identified in the Ghaggar-Hakra River Valley to the west, and predates the Kot Diji Phase (2800-2600 BCE, Harappan 2), named after a site in northern Sindh, Pakistan, near Mohenjo Daro. The earliest examples of the "Indus script" date from around 3000 BCE.[2]

The mature phase of earlier village cultures is represented by Rehman Dheri and Amri in Pakistan.[24] Kot Diji (Harappan 2) represents the phase leading up to Mature Harappan, with the citadel representing centralised authority and an increasingly urban quality of life. Another town of this stage was found at Kalibangan in India on the Hakra River.[25]

Trade networks linked this culture with related regional cultures and distant sources of raw materials, including lapis lazuli and other materials for bead-making. Villagers had, by this time, domesticated numerous crops, including peas, sesame seeds, dates and cotton, as well as various animals, including the water buffalo.

Mature Harappan

By 2600 BCE, the Early Harappan communities had been turned into large urban centers. Such urban centers include Harappa and Mohenjo Daro in Pakistan and Lothal in India. In total, over 1,052 cities and settlements have been found, mainly in the general region of the Ghaggar and Indus Rivers and their tributaries.

By 2500 BCE, irrigation had transformed the region.

Writing or symbol system

Well over 400 distinct Indus symbols have been found on seals or ceramic pots and over a dozen other materials, including a "signboard" that apparently once hung over the gate of the inner citadel of the Indus city of Dholavira. Typical Indus inscriptions are no more than four or five characters in length, most of which (aside from the Dholavira "signboard") are exquisitely tiny; the longest on a single surface, which is less than 1 inch (2.54 cm) square, is 17 signs long; the longest on any object (found on three different faces of a mass-produced object) has a length of 26 symbols.

Indus tablets. The first one shows a Swastika

While the Indus Valley Civilization is often characterized as a "literate society" on the evidence of these inscriptions, this description has been challenged on linguistic and archaeological grounds: it has been pointed out that the brevity of the inscriptions is unparalleled in any known premodern literate society. Based partly on this evidence, a controversial paper by Farmer, Sproat, and Witzel (2004), [4] argues that the Indus system did not encode language, but was instead similar to a variety of non-linguistic sign systems used extensively in the Near East and other societies. It has also been claimed on occasion that the symbols were exclusively used for economic transactions, but this claim leaves unexplained the appearance of Indus symbols on many ritual objects, many of which were mass produced in molds. No parallels to these mass-produced inscriptions are known in any other early ancient civilizations.[37]

Photos of many of the thousands of extant inscriptions are published in the Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions (1987, 1991), edited by A. Parpola and his colleagues. Publication of a final third volume, which will reportedly republish photos taken in the 1920s and 1930s of hundreds of lost or stolen inscriptions, along with many discovered in the last few decades, has been announced for several years, but has not yet found its way into print. For now, researchers must supplement the materials in the Corpus by study of the tiny photos in the excavation reports of Marshall (1931), Mackay (1938, 1943), Wheeler (1947), or reproductions in more recent scattered sources.


   1. "Indus civilization." (2007). In Encyclop�dia Britannica. Retrieved February 16, 2007, from Encyclop�dia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9042359
   2. a b Parpola, Asko. 1994. Deciphering the Indus Script. Cambridge University Press. 396 pages. ISBN 0521430798.
   3. Ching, Francis D. K, Mark Jarzombek, Vikramaditya Prakash. 2006. A Global History of Architecture. Hoboken, N.J. : J. Wiley & Sons, 2006. 816 pages. ISBN 0471268925. pages 28-32.
   4. McIntosh 2001:24
   5. Ratnagar, Shereen. 2006. Trading Encounters: From the Euphrates to the Indus in the Bronze Age. Oxford University Press, India. 428 pages. ISBN 019568088X.
   37. These and other issues are addressed in Parpola, [1] Study of the Indus Script] (2005)

Sindhi Civilization

When the Europeans had derived word "India" from the "Indus River", no one at that time knew that one day the 2,900 km-long river, which rises in China and empties into the Arabian Sea, would be flowing out of that country, Pakistan. Likewise, when Sir John Marshall renamed the Harappan culture as the Indus Valley Civilization which flourished from c.2600 to 1760 BC, he had no idea that in the future a number of cities and towns of that civilization would be found buried together with the Sarasvati River beyond the Indus valley.

It is indubitable now that a vast civilization existed in the river valleys of Sindhu and Sarasvati in the north-west of the South Asia. According to the Oxford Talking Dictionary the civilization was characterized by towns built on a grid-like plan with granaries, drainage systems, and public buildings, copper-bronze technology, a standard system of weights and measures, and steatite seals with hieroglyphic inscriptions, which remain undeciphered. The civilization's economic wealth was derived from well-attested sea and land trade with the rest of the South Asia, Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf, and Mesopotamia.

The remains of about 1,500 cities and towns of the integrated era of the civilization are scattered over 280,000 km� in Mehrgarh, Balochistan), Moenjodaro (Sindh), Rehman Dheri Pukhtunkhwa, Harappa (Punjab), Kalibangan (Rajasthan) and Dholavira and Lothal (Kutch). It was about 9,000 years ago when men in the Khirthar mountain range ended an era of hunting and heralded the age of settled life along the banks of the Bolan River and founded world�s first town Mehrgarh.

The Khirthar man kept moving eastward leaving behind traces of incipient Indus script engraved on rocks along the banks of torrential streams. The Khirthar man founded great cities and trade centres along the banks of Indus and Sarasvati rivers. It was a homogenous civilization and people across the region used one single language which is yet to be deciphered. They shared the costumes and customs. The civilization had pre-eminence in political and economical affairs for centuries. First, the civilization was called Harappan after the unearthing of archaeological site at Harappa in 1920. Then it was renamed the Indus valley civilization after the discovery of Moenjodaro in the same decade. Since the 1950s, a number of sites of the civilization have been discovered along dried up banks of the Sarasvati River which is extolled in the Rig-veda as "the best of mothers" and "the best of rivers". Therefore, the Indus valley civilization is also referred as the Sindhu-Sarasvati civilization. About 60 Sindhu-Sarasvati civilization sites have been found in Kutch in the South of Sindh. The city of Dholavira is considered one of the five major settlements of the earliest civilization. Today Ganges, regarded by Hindus as the most sacred, purifies men of sins so the Sarasvati in the ancient times. "May Sarasvati be our purifier" says the Rig-veda. The Sarasvati was most sacrosanct river for Hindus. There are over 72 hymns dedicated to the River Sarasvati in the Rig-veda. The lower Indus valley from Multan to the Arabian Sea formed the nucleus of the Sindhu-Sarasvati civilization due to its marvellous topographical features -- the Khirthar mountainous range, (the provenance of the civilization), great lakes (Hamal, Manchhar and Keenjhar), savannah-like landscape, flood plains and deltas of the Indus and Sarasvati rivers.

Sir John Marshall in his essay "First Light on a long-forgotten civilization" writes: "What seems prima facia more probable is that this forgotten civilization, of which the exaction of Harappa and Moenjodaro have now given as a first glimpse was developed in the Indus valley itself". On the fusion of civilization, B.K. Thapar in his essay "Kalibangan: A Harappan Metropolis beyond the Indus valley" writes that Kalibangan in Rajasthan was the "cultural style of the Indus civilization beyond the Indus valley". Lothal in Gujarat excavated in 1957 had been the most fascinating settlement of the Indus civilization. Many of the historians have termed this civilization as a "wounded civilization" because of its discontinuity. Some of the archaeologists have claimed that the Sarasvati River, which had several tributaries reinforcing it from different places, played a significant part in the sustenance of the civilization. Its cessation caused the death of the Sindhu-Sarasvati civilization.

The Chinese civilization is said to be the only civilization in continuity since 6,000 years. But some of the historians are of the view that the Indus civilization is also in continuity. Gregory L Possehl in his book "Ancient cities of the Indus" writes that "the first point to be emphasized is that the problem seems not to be best stated as the "end" of a civilization, at least in the sense of a tradition, since there are abundant signs of cultural continuity in Sindh, Gujarat, the Punjab and adjacent areas of the North India."

Robert L Raikes in his essay "the end of the ancient cities of the Indus" compares the Sindhu-Sarasvati civilization with the European civilization. He says: "it is as if the material culture of France had remained unchanged in its minutia from the time of Charlemagne to the French Revolution, or that of England from before the Norman Conquest until the Industrial Revolution". Similarly, from 1760BC till today the people of Sindh are witness to the centuries-old heritage.


Whatever language we have from Sindhu-Sarasvati sites is permanent documents inscribed on seals which might be government seals, codes and treaties. There were about 30 letters in the Indus alphabet. More than eight words than English. There are different figures about total Indus script words but if compiled the Indus script dictionary could be more than 400 words. Linguists are of the view that the Indo-Aryan languages (Hindustani, Urdu, Hindi, Sindhi, Punjabi, Gujarati and Bengali) and the Dravidian languages (Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam) may have originated from the common lingua franca spoken by people in the Indus and Sarasvati river valleys.

Proto-Indo-Iranian language:

Proto-Indo-Iranian, is the reconstructed proto-language of the Indo-Iranian branch of Indo-European. Its speakers, the hypothetical Proto-Indo-Iranians, are assumed to have lived in the late 3rd millennium BC, and are usually connected with the early Andronovo archaeological horizon.

Proto-Indo-Iranian was a Satem language, likely removed less than a millennium from the late Proto-Indo-European language, and in turn removed less than a millennium from the Vedic Sanskrit of the Rigveda. It is the ancestor of the Indo-Aryan languages, the Iranian languages, the Dardic languages and the Nuristani languages.

Mlecchita Vikalpa:
Sarasvati (mleccha) hieroglyphs (Indus Script)

About 4000 epigraphs have been discovered as related to the Saravati-Sindhu (Harappa) Civilization. About 2000 archaeological sites (that is, 80% of the total number of 2600 sites) are found on the banks of River Sarasvati (Ghaggar). Epigraphs have been discovered only on 42 sites. The epigraphs use pictorial signs and pictorial motifs. Treating these as pictorial writing, the glyphs are read as hieroglyphs. Because the majority of the civilization sites are on the Sarasvati River basin, Indus Script epigraphs are referred to as Sarasvati hieroglyphs. These are read as the repertoire of mints, smithy and metalsmiths using mleccha (meluhha), the spoken language of the linguistic area of Bharatam from circa 6500 BCE to the present-day.

Discovery sites of Sarasvati hieroglyphs

Over 45 sites where objects with epigraphs have been discovered � dated circa 3300 BCE to 1500 BCE. The Sarasvati hieroglyph discovery sites extend from Tepe Gawra on Tigris river on the west to Alamgirpur on Yamuna river on the east; from Altin Tepe in the north -- east of Caspian Sea (south of Turkmenistan) to Maski on Krishna river on the south.

Neolithic and Harappan period settlements in the cradle of the Sarasvati Civilization. The delta area is now called Rann of Kutch. [After KS ValdiyaError! Bookmark not defined., 2002, Fig. 1.3]

In 2006, a stone celt with Sarasvati hieroglyphs has been discovered on the banks of Kaveri river (Sembiyan Kandiyur). Two ingots with Sarasvati hieroglyphs have also been discovered in a shipwreck in Haifa (Mediterranean).

Old Indic or Proto-Bharatiya Lingua Franca or parole (spoken tongue)

There are hundreds of lexical isolates attested in �Indo-Aryan� which are not found in other branches of Indo-European. These are clearly a substratum layer of Old Indic which was spoken by the people of Bharat on the Sarasvati-Sindhu river basins and on the coastal settlements of Sindhu sa_gara (Arabian Sea). Some of these people were called Meluhhan in Mesopotamian texts. The Austroasiatic components of this substratum have to be resolved further in the context of (1) ancestors of Brahui and Elamite; and (2) other Austroasiatic groups such as those in the Brahmaputra (Lohitya)-Meghna-Barak river basins and around the Bay of Bengal.

The lingua franca (or parole, spoken tongue) of Bharat circa 5000 years ago is hypothesized as a continuum of dialects, evolving in tandem with the cultural setting and technological innovations.

There is evidence of a substrate language of anient Sumer; this language could be located in Bha_rata in the contemporaneous Sarasvati-Sindhu civilization ca. 3500 -2500 BCE. Like the influence of Celtic on ancient Gaul, Sumerian shows signs of a substrate language in the use of professional names such as sanga 'priest', simug 'blacksmith'; craftsman like nangar 'carpenter', a:gab 'leather worker'; agricultural terms, like engar 'farmer', apin 'plow' and absin 'furrow'. ur 'millstone' (Sumerian); ur-al 'mortar' (Ta.); ulu_khala (Skt.) ili 'sesame' (Sumerian), ellu/u_lu 'sesame oil' (Akkadian); el., el.l.u 'Sesamum indicum' (Ta.); tila, jar-tila 'sesame' (Vedic)(Blazek, V. and C. Boisson, The Diffusion of Agricultural Terms from Mesopotamia. Archiv Orientalni 60, 1992, 16-37) It is possible that IE *kwe-kw-lo- �wheel� may be related to Sumerian gilgul 'wheel'; (GIS-); gigir 'wagon'. a_n.i which occurs in the R.gveda as �lynch pin� is considered foreign to both Dravidian and Vedic. IE rota �rotate� may also relate to urut.t.u �roll�; urul. �roll� (Ta.) tambira = copper (Pkt.) tibira = merchant (Akkadian)

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Hieroglyptic art as mlecchita vikalpa (Sarasvati hieroglyphs and cognate art motifs in contact areas of Sarasvati civilization)

[Mlecchita vikalpa is one of 64 arts according to Vatsyayana and refers to cryptography (mlecchita means 'made by mleccha'; vikalpa means 'alternative'). Mleccha is the lingua franca used by Vidura/Khanaka (mine worker) and Yudhishthira in Mahabharata while discussing the details of jaatugriha (shellac house) killer weapons.]

http://tinyurl.com/2sh5pd  (Writing system) Two webpages of the monograph in 2 parts have been added: http://tinyurl.com/246krv [hieroglypticart.pdf ]

http://tinyurl.com/yqqqxb [ hieroglypticannexes.pdf ]

See also: http://tinyurl.com/2dvo9b Mlecchita vikalpa (Update: eagle hieroglyph)

The objective of this monograph is to encode 'meaning' by relating  enduring lexemes of the linguistic area of the civilization, to the glyptic art forms in use in the Sarasvati civilization contact area. The principal method used is 'rebus' (vikalpa or alternative glyptic representation of mleccha words, sounding similar to the words connoted by the glyphs).
The similar sounding (rebus) words relate to the repertoire of a smithy. Many lexemes are indicated in the web pages linked at: http://tinyurl.com/2sh5pd

Artisans are artists.

Artisans of Sarasvati Civilization and Ancient Near Eastern civilization area were artists who could work with very small objects to create astounding works of art, meaningfully communicating important trade messages or messages related to a new invention: metallurgy, in general and alloying of metals, in particular.

The following annexes provide background information on this topic with remarkable glyphs comparable to the glyphs on Sarasvati epigraphs:
Annex A an exquisite essay by Peter Damerow from Cuneiform Digital Library.
Annex B an essay on Iranian Art by PS Moorey.
Annex C a monograph by Robert Galantucci on priestesses�
Annex D a report on the 'westeren cave treasure' (Kalmakarreh cave, Luristan)
Annex E Notes on Elamite bas-reliefs in jeopardy
Annex F Hanif Anavian Collection and Jiroft artefacts
Annex G History etched in stone: Persepolis
Annex H Dravidian, Mande and Elamite By Clyde Winters

Many art historians (Samuel Huntington, in particular), archaeometallurgists (James Muhly, in particular) and authors of Indus script corpus � Iravatham Mahadevan and Asko Parpola -- have provided insights which have made the writing of this monograph possible.

Together with the brilliant invention of alloying, another complementary invention was achieved: writing system using glyptic art forms.

Writing system is an art form, using images to represent sounds of words from mleccha lingua franca.

Ancient artisans invented a writing system using glyphs (images) of commonly encountered objects/flora/fauna which had mleccha lexemes associated with them.

The writing system invented by lapidaries, mineral smelters and metalsmiths, was used to represent similar-sounding (rebus) lexemes but related to a smithy or mint.

The artisans could work to incise or depict in bas-relief the chosen images, on an array of material, and on objects the size of scarabs (beetles) or of thumb-nails: clay, pottery, terracotta, steatite, limestone, quartz, chlorite, marble, chalcedony, agate, jasper, lapis lazuli and also on copper plates or tin or silver or gold plates/ingots.

The area of interactions of Sarasvati civilization people can be hypothesized to be coterminus with the linguistic area of the civilization, providing for an interchange of technical terms used related to a smithy or mint. [Mleccha-mukha in Sanskrit means 'copper'; milakku id. (Pali); vikalpa: mu~h 'ingot' (Mundari); rebus: mukha 'face'.]

This hypothesis will help explain why particular glyptic motifs are chosen by the artisans in the writing system.

The themes are remarkably similar in both civilization areas: Sarasvati civilization area and Ancient Near East civilization area.

Excerpt from an interview with John Boardman (Author of The world of ancient art, 2006, London, Thames and Hudson) emphasizing the similarities among cultures of the ancient world:

   Eschewing the customary divisions between the cultures of the ancient world, (John Boardman) he treats their art in three environmental zones: the nomadic peoples of the north, the urban agricultural societies of the temperate zone, and the peoples of the tropics.

   As he explains, this brings to light the similarities rather than the differences: nomads, whether in Asia, Europe or America, have an art that is based on small, portable objects, usually depicting animals; monumental architecture and art is confined to the middle zone, defining and protecting power and with a sense of the past and of progress; and in the tropics art is based largely on the human figure, with an emphasis on families and ancestors. At the interfaces the art of one zone tended to have very little influence upon the others, but the exceptions are revealing.

   It is a thesis exemplified by the book's jacket, which juxtaposes an Egyptian pharaoh with a Mayan god�" Now I find I need to speak out against a highly politicised lobby of archaeologists who are, I think, responsible for what amounts to a witch-hunt of those who disagree with them, especially collectors, but with severe implications also for museums. They put one in mind sometimes of the more fanatical animal-rights activists."

Interview with Diana Scarisbrick, Apollo Magazine, May 2006

Learning is a treasure which accompanies its owner everywhere.
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