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Old 03-31-2006, 07:46 AM
kalyan97 kalyan97 is offline
Join Date: Mar 2006
Indus Script has been deciphered I came across this thread during my search on scripts and languages.

Let me give you the good news. Indus script has been deciphered. The Straight Dope Science Advisory Board is right on the bull's eye. The script is hieroglyphic.

The language is mleccha (meluhha). QED at (together with albums and writes-up) And notes on the underlying language at

There will be a presentation at the 5th ICAANE workshop on bronze age trading systems.

Since I am only a guest member, I will be happy to respond offline for any follow-up queries. Email:

Thanking you for your consideration and with the best regards.
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Old 03-31-2006, 08:17 AM
ftg ftg is offline
Join Date: Feb 2001
You need to provide significantly better quality links.

The first link goes to a page that is mis-formatted and unreadable in my browser (Opera).

The second link only has a single reference to Indus script that I could find (buried in a huge amount of other stuff.) And the link there goes to a page completely unrelated to the Indus script!

(As a general rule of thumb, never link to bloggers who just collect links. Link to the original articles themselves.)

The third link only has an abstract of a paper. Not enough info to go on.

Want to try that again?
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Old 03-31-2006, 10:31 AM
Dr. Drake Dr. Drake is offline
Join Date: Jan 2006
Looking around online, there's a number of sites claiming decipherment, each contradicting the others, but perhaps you're referring to Asko Parpola's Deciphering the Indus Script (1994)? Here's a good review of it, which says: "After all this, the book has something of a surprise ending. Having developed at length his provisional case for a decipherment, Parpola concludes that 'it looks most unlikely that the Indus script will ever be deciphered fully, unless radically different source material becomes available' (p. 278)." The author assumes that it is a Dravidian language, which is plausible but not proven.
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Old 03-31-2006, 10:36 AM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: U.S.A.
Posts: 31,545
The use of the term mlechha makes me suspicious. It's the traditional term amongst Hindus for "spiritually unclean" and can refer to things as well as people (untouchables).
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Old 03-31-2006, 05:19 PM
Kimstu Kimstu is offline
Join Date: Dec 1999
Originally Posted by acsenray
The use of the term mlechha makes me suspicious. It's the traditional term amongst Hindus for "spiritually unclean"
Historically, it's a Sanskrit word for "foreigner", "barbarian", etc.

"Meluhha" is a place name attested in Sumerian texts of the third millennium, seemingly a foreign trade center. Some people have hypothesized that this might refer to the Sumerians' trade contacts in the Indus Valley.

Presumably, the idea would be that this was a place-name in a Dravidian or other non-Indo-Aryan culture, and when Indo-Aryan Sanskrit speakers showed up in that area, they applied the place-name to all those furriner people. Hence Meluhha --> mleccha.

AFAIK, though, this is all still speculation. I'm inclined to think that Farmer and Witzel, whom bibliophage mentioned in his column, might be right that the Indus "script" is a set of non-linguistic signs rather than an actual script. In any case, Indologists in general certainly don't share the OP's optimism that it has been definitively deciphered.
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