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Decoding Harappa culture: Indus script is not a language but a numerical representation

harappa-tablet

By NewsGram Staff Writer

A veteran science historian has recently claimed that according to the artifacts discovered during the research of the Indus Valley Civilization, it was discovered that the Indus script is not a language but a numerical representation.

B.V. Subbaraayappa, a 90-year-old historian and a former president of the International Union of History & Philosophy of Science, said, “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 Indus Valley Civilisation was discovered by the Archeological Survey of India’s (ASI) director general John Marshall who later wrote about this discovery in “The Illustrated London News” in 1924.

Since then there are a number of mysteries associated with the civilization and one of them is language. The script became contentious due to different interpretations by linguists, historians and archaeologists the world over.

Subbarayappa stated that, “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.”

The script that was found had a unique and distinct characteristic features. The Indus Valley people had used the mathematical symbols like decimal, additive, multiplicative numerical system in their day-to-day occupations, which were primarily agriculture and animal husbandry.

Subbarayappa added, “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 food grains (wheat & barley) and commodities (cotton).”

Buffalos, humped bulls and rhinos were also used for counting and making records associated with agriculture activity or production.

Subbarayappa recalled that, “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.”

Subbarayappa reiterated his argument by saying that, “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.”

As there is no outcome on the linguistic assumptions of Indus scripts and it is still in a blind alley, the science historian wants national institutions like the ASI, the Indian Council of Historical Research and the Indian National Science Academy to assess its numerical hypothesis in a scientific way.

Explaining the use of numerical in Indus culture, Subbarayappa concluded, “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 utilization by the Indus Valley people for over a long time.”

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