Arun Waves

August 7, 2016

Indus Valley Civilization – The Script

One of the few things that I impressed me in my high school History class was the chapter that dealt with the Indus Valley Civilization, a 4000 years old network of cities located in what is today the general area of India-Pakistan border. What impressed me was not how old it was but the evidence of advanced drainage and sanitary systems, broad roads that were straight and ran North-South/East-West, and the buildings that were deliberately laid out in a systematic pattern. I did not know the technical term at that time but here was clear evidence of Urban planning in a city that was built 4000 years old!!!


Indus Valley Civilization Script

The next thing that caught my attention were the numerous seals and tablets that contained interesting symbols that were sometimes accompanied by human and animal motifs. And guess what, this language has not be deciphered yet!!! I can’t help dramatize the whole thing ……….. imagine a person, 4000 years ago, picks up a hard and sharp tool, carefully inscribes these symbols which meant something to him just like these words mean something to you, then it gets used for many years and one day, someone lays it down one last time and then no one touched it for 1000s of years. What blows my mind is that 4000 years later, people anywhere on this planet can see this inscription from the comfort of their homes using technology that would be like magic to the person who inscribed this seal. And yet none of the 7 billion people can understand what was inscribed on that seal 4000 years ago.


What does it say?

Anyhow, snapping out of the dramatization, why did I awaken this dormant knowledge and mystery? Few months ago, during my routine nocturnal excursions or more accurately meanderings in the web, I came across an article in Nature ( which reported on a rare recent work done by Bryan Wells who is an archaeologist, epigrapher and geographer. He holds a PhD in anthropology from Harvard University and works at a university in Germany. I call it a ‘rare recent’ work since most of the work on the Indus Valley script is decades old and I believe the trail has gone cold. Around the same time, I was taking a serious interest in the field of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence especially the Neural Network part which leads to Deep Learning. Well, the nocturnal brain in its calm and meditative state, made a link between the two and I got hooked.



  1. Great post Arun. Good reminder of the past Indian history. Very well researched.

    Comment by Anu — January 18, 2017 @ 3:10 pm | Reply

  2. Excellent write up! It’s amazing to know that we still can’t figure out certain things from the past. Only shows we have lots more to learn.

    Comment by Flavin — January 26, 2017 @ 12:24 am | Reply

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