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the Indus signs, and are therefore highly useful for their pictorial understanding, but the same applies to the pictograms of other ancient scripts.

Massimo Vidale (in press) stresses the fact that the Indus script — with its 400 standardized signs, which occur with recurring sequences in standard rows that have a preferred direction — is far from being “simple” when compared to non-linguistic symbolic systems closer to the Indus script in space and time. Vidale discusses in detail the different systems of potter’s marks and iconographic symbols used during the third millennium at the Namazga V sites (southern Turkmenistan), Shahr-i Sokhta (Iranian Sistan), Tepe Yahya, Shahdad, Jiroft (all in Iranian Kerman), Rahman Dheri (in northwestern Paki- stan), Mehrgarh and Nausharo (in Pakistani Baluchistan) and the more than 400 Dilmun seals of the Gulf used in early second millennium BC. “It is clear that the inclusion of such restricted (but in their contexts presumably efficient) symbolic systems in their samples would have high- lighted the non-comparability of the Indus script to such codes, thus lessen- ing the impact of a good part of the Authors’ [i.e., Farmer et al.] arguments. This is why, I believe, these systems were not considered. It is also clear that in the known contemporary systems, non-linguistic symbols behaved quite variably, and that archaeological data question the superfi- cial claim that positional regularities are easily found in ‘countless non- linguistic sign systems’,” concludes Vidale.

Why Did the Harappans not Adopt Writing? “The critical question remains of why the Harappans never adopted writ- ing, since their trade classes and presumably their ruling elite were undoubt- edly aware of it through their centuries of contact with the high-literate Mesopotamians” (Farmer et al. 2004: 44).

That the Harappans should have intentionally rejected writing like the Celtic priests of Roman times, being averse to encode their ritual traditions in writing like the Vedic Brahmins (p. 44), is not an over- whelmingly convincing explanation. It is true that some complex socie-


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