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Corpus of inscriptions and sign-lists: acknowledgements
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A number of concordances and sign lists exist for the script:
Langdon, Mohenjodaro and the Indus Civilization, London, 1931, vol. II, pp. 434-55
Gadd and Smith, Mohenjodaro and the Indus Civilization, London,1931,, vol. III, Pls. CXIX-CXXIX
Vats, Excavations at Harappa, Calcutta, 1940, vol. II, Pls. CV-CXVI
Hunter, G.R., Scripts of Harappa and Mohenjodaro, 1934, pp. 203-10
Hunter, G.R., JRAS, 1932, pp. 491-503
Dani, A.H., Indian Palaeography, 1963, Pls. I-II
Parpola et al., Materials for the study of the Indus script, I: A concordance to the Indus Inscriptions, 1973, pp. xxii-xxvi
Mahadevan, I., The Indus Script: Texts, concordance and tables, Delhi, 1977, pp. 32-35
Koskenniemi, Kimmo and Asko Parpola, Corpus of texts in the Indus script, Helsinki, 1979; A concordance to the texts in the Indus script, Helsinki, 1982
Parpola, Asko, Deciphering the Indus Script,
London, 1994, pp.70-78
An outstanding contribution to the study of the
script problem is the publication of the Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions
(CISI) Two volumes have been published so far:
Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions, 1. Collections in India, Helsinki, 1987 (eds. Jagat Pati Joshi and Asko Parpola)
Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions, 2. Collections in Pakistan, Helsinki, 1991 (eds. Sayid Ghulam Mustafa Shah and Asko Parpola)
[A third volume containing other collections
outside India and Pakistan is yet to appear.]
These volumes constitute the photographic corpus.
The CISI contains all the seals including those without any inscriptions, for e.g. those
with the geometrical motif called the svastika.
Parpolas initial corpus (1973) included a total number of 3204 texts. After compiling the pictorial corpus, Parpola notes that there are approximately 3700 legible inscriptions (including 1400 duplicate inscriptions, i.e. with repeated texts).
Both the concordances of Parpola and Mahadevan
complement each other because of the sort sequence adopted. Parpolas concordance was
sorted according to the sign following the indexed sign. Mahadevans concordance was
sorted according to the sign preceding the indexed sign. The latter sort ordering helps in
delineating signs which occur in final position.
A comprehensive bibliography appears in Parpola, Deciphering the Indus Script, London, 1994, pp. 303-348.
Compendia of the efforts made since the discovery by Gen. Alexander Cunningham, in 1875, of the first known Indus seal (British Museum 1892-12-10, 1), to decipher the script appear in the following references:
Kalyanaraman, S., Indus Script: A bibliography, Manila, 1988
Mahadevan, I., What do we know about the Indus Script? Neti neti (Not this nor that), Presidential Address, section 5, Indian History Congress, 49th Session, Dharwar, 2-4 November 1988, Madras..
Possehl, Gregory, Indus Age: the writing system,
Many attempts at decipherment of the inscriptions are summarized in Parpola (1994, pp. 57-61): "In summary, none of the attempts at deciphering the Indus script made so far (including that of our Finnish team) has gained wide acceptance numerous tests agree in establishing right to left as the preponderant direction of writing in the Indus inscriptions Mahadevan who has carefully recorded the direction of the original in each of his 3,573 lines, distinguishes 2,974 lines running right to left (83.23 percent) and 235 going left to right (6.57 percent), in addition to such ambiguous sequences as 190 single-sign lines, 12 symmetrical sequences and 155 cases that are doubtful on account of damaged or illegible lines. A top-to-bottom sequence is recorded for seven lines."
Parpola suggests (Corpus, 1, 1987, p. xvi) that the pictorial motifs (some of which are iconographic) indicate religious motifs and some seals (such as M-319 with a carved hollow to hold an amuletic charm and a lid) which are probably charms provide clues to the Harappan religion. He also adds that many miniature tablets of Harappa may have functioned as tokens of votive offerings or of visits to temples. He cites the examples of moulded tablets Mk-478 and M-479 where the combination of 4 U signs stands next to an iconographic scene where a kneeling worshipper extends a pot shaped like the U-formed sign towards a tree. "Apparently the tree is sacred, and the man is presenting the pot (or according to the inscription, four pots) to it as an offering The interpretation of the iconography of the Indus seals and tablets constitutes a major scholarly challenge Sir John Marshalls identification of a Proto-Siva in the buffalo-horned deity of a famous seal from Mohenjodaro (M-304) may well be correct, and so may be Alf Hiltebeitels even more convincing identification of this figure as Proto-Mahis.a, although this deity and his yogic posture have close counterparts in the earlier glyptic art of the Proto-Elamites. Comparative studies thus suggest that the Indus Civilization may have been an integral if marginal part of the West Asian cultural area and that there is an unbroken cultural continuity in South Asia from the Harappan times until the present day."