Pub. Date:
Cambridge University Press
Deciphering the Indus Script

Deciphering the Indus Script

by Asko Parpola


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Of the writing systems of the ancient world which still await deciphering, the Indus script is the most important. It developed in the Indus or Harappan Civilization, which flourished c. 2500-1900 BC in and around modern Pakistan, collapsing before the earliest historical records of South Asia were composed. Nearly 4,000 samples of the writing survive, mainly on stamp seals and amulets, but no translations. Professor Parpola is the chief editor of the Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions. His ideas about the script, the linguistic affinity of the Harappan language, and the nature of the Indus religion are informed by a remarkable command of Aryan, Dravidian, and Mesopotamian sources, archaeological materials, and linguistic methodology. His fascinating study confirms that the Indus script was logo-syllabic, and that the Indus language belonged to the Dravidian family.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780521795661
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 10/01/2009
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 8.20(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.90(d)

Table of Contents

Part I. Introduction: 1. The Indus Civilization and its historical context; Part II. The Indus Script: 2. Early writing systems; 3. Deciphering an unknown script; 4. Approaches to the Indus script; 5. Internal evidence for the type of script used in the Indus Valley; 6. Internal evidence on the structure of the Indus language; 7. External clues to the Indus script; Part III. The Linguistic Context: 8. In search of the Indus language; 9. Dravidian languages and the Harappan culture; Part IV. Interpretations of Indus Pictograms: 10. The 'fish' signs of the Indus script; 11. The astronomical and astrological background; 12. The trefoil motif: further evidence for astral religion; 13. Evidence for Harappan worship of the god Muruku; 14. Evidence for Harappan worship of the Goddess; 15. Epilogue; Appendix; Bibliographical notes; References; Index.

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