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More on Decipherment of Indus-Saraswati Script
|by Rajat K Pal|
Consonants with Vowels and Ligatures
One of the main features of the Indo-Aryan language group is the use of sign varieties applying different vowels to consonants. In the European language group vowels are used separately along with consonants. Here addition of vowels changes the consonants sign a bit, but the basic sign can be recognized without much effort. This Indian practice was identified first in Asokan Inscriptions which were inscribed in Brahmi script.
For the signs of ‘li’ , ‘pi’, ‘vaa’, ‘si’, and ‘naa’ the following changes were made, (Basic consonants and consonants after adding vowels are shown).
We can take another example from Sutanuka Inscription, found at the caves in Ramnath Hill near Sirguja where we get the words ‘sutanuka’ & ‘devdasinyi’, from which we can get the following signs.
From the Tables 8 & 9 we get the examples of the way the signs were changed when vowels were added to consonants. For overall discussion we take the applications of all vowels in this respect at the following Table 10.
Now we shall discuss the changes of Indus signs when vowels were added to consonants in the light of Brahmi applications. We should remember that the time period of Indus-Saraswati Inscriptions was 2000 – 1500 years prior to the Brahmi era. So the uses were in crude form at that time. Through the years those uses took the Brahmi shapes.
Indus Consonants with Vowels
Ligature / Compound Letters
I want to give some explanations regarding the use of compound letters in Indus script. Researchers have suggested about the presence of ligatures or small graphic modifications of signs, similar to those used in later Indian scripts (Marshall, 1924; Hunter,1929; Parpola,1969; Mahadevan,1986; Fairservis,1992)
Compound Letters or Consonant Conjuncts
Explanations (Table 11 & 12) :
A. In Brahmi a short vertical line on the upper portion indicates ‘i’ sign and two vertical signs mean ‘ii’. Likewise in Indus Script also we get the same effects. Table 11, Sl. No.1 indicates ‘sii’ and Sl. No.2 of the same table is the graphic variant of the earlier. From Sl. Nos. 10, 14 and 17 (Table 11) we get the examples of ‘ni’ and ‘nii’ (sometimes vertical signs are a bit aligned).
B. In Brahmi a short vertical line below any sign indicates ‘u’,. in Indus also the meaning is ‘u’. In addition to it often the vertical line was used inside a sign. This also had the value of ‘u’. From Table 11 we can take the examples of 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 27 and 28 (vertical signs often are slight aligned).
C. Two horizontal signs (starting from middle to the opposite ends) above a letter is meant for ‘o’ in Brahmi. In Indus those separate signs are joined. Often we find two joined lines. We can take 9, 12 , 13, etc. as examples (Table 11)
A 1 (687) Plate 1 (donation by members of royal family)
Where the compound letters ‘mma’, ‘mto’ & ‘mno’ are found. In Brahmi there are several examples of compound letters.
E. One may raise the question of percentage of the available compound letters. Here I would like to state that Brahmi was written in Prakrit form, which was the literary form of Pali language spoken by common people at that time. Grammarians have accepted that in Brahmi maximum compound letters were simplified. To give some examples I am once again taking examples from the book of H. Luders
Those are the signs which we get in Indus-Saraswati script. Those are the simple stroke signs. From the number of strokes we can take the values of them. In Brahmi the 1st three numbers are found by one, two and three strokes (3rd century B.C.). In Kharosthi one stroke for the numeric sign 1 is found. Numbers to describe by the number of strokes are common in modern Chinese numerals. In Brahmi from the number four onwards and in Kharosthi from two onwards the use of separate signs was in practice.
Number systems happened to start from Indian civilization, as well as in other civilizations like Egypt etc. The system of India was largely taken by middle-east scholars and from them Europeans accepted the method. Thus came the name Hindu-Arabic numeral system. Later this system was classified in three sub groups i. e. 1) Eastern Arabic Numerals (developed in Iraq), 2) Indian Numeral & 3) Arabic Numeral (developed by Maghreb and Al - Andalus).
In many number signs with past connections (like Roman) we can find that 1, 2, 3 represent simple tally marks. The sign 1 is a single line, 2 is a combination of 2 lines (often connected by a line) and 3 is the combination of three lines (often connected). Generally after number 3, signs become more complex symbols.
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10/18/2012 01:18 AM
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