Indian and American researchers are close to breaking the code behind the script of the Indus Valley civilisation, which flourished on the India-Pakistan border 4,000 years ago.
The script, found as inscriptions on numerous objects dating from that period, has puzzled archaeologists ever since Harappa was discovered in 1842.
A study, a joint effort of Mumbai’s Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Chennai’s Institute of Mathematical Sciences and the University of Washington, was published this week in Proceedings of the Natio-nal Academy of Sciences.
It says there are distinct patterns in the hieroglyphics used by the script, and creates a statistical model for the unknown language.
“The model provides insights into the underlying grammatical structure of the script,” said lead author Rajesh Rao, associate professor of computer science, University of Washington.
Western archaeologists have often sought to debunk the claim that the symbols comprised a script at all.
While scholar Natwar Jha, in his book on Indus Valley in 2000, claimed the inscriptions found on the artefacts were a form of Vedic Sanskrit, others have maintained it was some kind of Dravidian language.
Rao, however, said calculations with the help of computers and mathematical models had shown that the order of the symbols on the artefacts was meaningful for the discovery of an unknown script representing a distinct language.