A Rosetta Stone for the Indus script?
2011 07 01

From: ted.com



Do you love a good mystery and ancient texts? Rajesh Rao sure does. He is a computational neuroscientist at my alma mater, the University of Washington in Seattle. He has devoted much of his professional life to cracking "the mother of all crossword puzzles": How to decipher the 4000 year old Indus script,

To do this, Dr Rao uses computational modeling to understand the human mind in two ways: first, he develops computer models to describe how human minds think, and then second, he applies these models to the task of deciphering the 4,000-year-old script of the Indus valley civilization. This interesting video provides a glimpse into his methods and logic.

Scientists claim to have found language of ancient Indus civilisation
By Ian Sample | guardian.co.uk


If true, deciphering the words may unlock the secrets of one of the most mysterious civilisations known

Elaborate symbols drawn on to amulets and tablets by an ancient civilisation belong to an unknown language, according to a new analysis by researchers.

The controversial claim raises the prospect of deciphering the written words of one of the most mysterious civilisations known, and so opening a window onto the ancient culture.

The Indus civilisation flourished in isolation 4,500 years ago along the border of what is now eastern Pakistan, but almost no historical information exists about the people and their long-lost community.

Archaeologists working in the region have unearthed a rich hoard of artifacts, including amulets, seals and ceramic tablets, many of which are embellished with the unusual symbols.

The discovery of ancient objects belonging to the Indus has split the scholarly community, with some claiming the symbols form a primitive language and others arguing they are simply pictograms.

More than 500 distinct Indus symbols have so far been identified, which include what appear to be representations of fish, rings, men and cowheads. In 2004 one researcher offered $10,000 to anyone who could find a single Indus artifact adorned with more than 50 of the symbols.

Scientists at the University of Washington in Seattle and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai decided to undertake an analysis of the symbols in the hope of settling the dispute over the Indus scripts once and for all.

Using a computer programme, the team compared patterns of Indus symbols with those found in known languages and other information systems, such as DNA and computer languages.

In some information systems a sequence of symbols can seem to be random, while in others, such as pictograms that represent deities and other concepts, there is usually a strict hierarchy that influences the order in which symbols appear. Spoken languages tend to fall somewhere between these two extremes, incorporating order as well as flexibility.

When the researchers ran the analysis on a compilation of Indus texts, they found that the patterns of symbols were strikingly similar to those in spoken languages. The study, which appears in the journal Science, likens the Indus script to the ancient languages of Sumerian from Mesopotamia and Old Tamil from the Indian subcontinent.

"At this point, we can say that the Indus script seems to have statistical regularities that are in line with natural languages," said Rajesh Rao, a scientist at the University of Washington who led the study.

The team is now examining more Indus scripts in the hope of understanding its syntax and grammatical rules.

Asko Parpola, emeritus professor of indology at Helsinki University said he was optimistic the language could be deciphered.

"Language is one of the hallmarks of a literate civilisation. If it's real writing, we have a chance to know their language and to get to know more about their religion and other aspects of their culture. We don't have any literature from the region that can be understood," Parpola said.

Scholars of the 19th century were only able to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics after discovering the Rosetta Stone, which was inscribed with Egyptian scripts translated into ancient Greek. To decipher the Indus language, scholars may need a similar discovery.

Source: guardian.co.uk



Related Articles


Latest News from our Front Page

The War Against Whites Is Massively Incentivized
2014 08 28
The war on Whites is getting increasingly obvious, to the point that a very mainstream source, Congressman Mo Brooks, stated it and then refused to back down. This war is being carried on with a number of very potent weapons. At TOO we have stressed the moral onslaught which has inculcated guilt among legions of Whites for actions that have occurred ...
Study Offers Clues to Arctic Mystery: Paleo-Eskimos’ Abrupt Extinction
2014 08 28
Seven hundred years ago, the Dorset people disappeared from the Arctic. The last of the Paleo-Eskimos, the Dorset culture had dominated eastern Canada and Greenland for centuries, hunting seal and walrus through holes in the ice and practicing shamanistic rituals with ornate carvings and masks. Then, they promptly ceased to exist. Modern archaeologists have scoured troves of Arctic artifacts, searching for ...
Lois Lerner’s IRS Blackberry Destroyed After Federal Probe
2014 08 28
The IRS destroyed former Lois Lerner’s BlackBerry after Congress started probing whether the IRS was targeting conservative groups. Lerner was director of the Exempt Organizations Division of the IRS. A sworn declaration of Thomas Kane, a senior IRS lawyer, reveals that in June 2012, the IT department of the IRS wiped any sensitive or proprietary information from the BlackBerry in ...
White Marine Beaten by Black Mob in Michael Brown ‘Revenge’ Attack
2014 08 28
Police refuse to treat incident as a hate crime A white Marine was left in an induced coma after a group of black men brutally beat him as part of a revenge attack in response to the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The incident began at West Point Waffle House in Mississippi on Saturday morning at around 1am. With ...
Study: Exposure to Endocrine disrupting Chemicals Can Affect Future Generations
2014 08 28
Scientists have known that toxic effects of substances known as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), found in both natural and human-made materials, can pass from one generation to the next. New research shows that females with an ancestral exposure to EDC may show especially adverse reactions to stress. According to a new study by researchers from The University of Texas at Austin ...
More News »