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hand in one single phrase, speaking of “the failure of the Dravidian model to generate verifiable linguistic readings of a single Indus sign” (Farmer et al. 2004: 21). I do not find this quite fair, as the rebus interpretations have such a pivotal importance for the question of whether the Indus signs are script or not, and as many reviewers and other scholars have taken my 1994 book very seriously. But being an involved party, the matter is of course not for me to decide. I am all the more grateful to the T$oh$o Gakkai for this opportunity to present some of the interpretations to this distinguished audience (Comment: the printed paper is ad- dressed to the readers, no more to the listening audience).22) My main purpose here is to give an idea of the methods and controls.


Obstacles to Decipherment How can the Indus script be deciphered? We must turn to successful decipherments of ancient scripts and to the known history of writing for methodological guidance. Becoming acquainted with decipherments of other ancient scripts, one also becomes conscious of the immense obstacles in the case of the Indus script.

Most ancient scripts have been deciphered with the help of transla- tions into known scripts and languages. But here no such translations exist. Even worse, historical information, such as was available from the Bible and the Greek historians in the case of the Persian cuneiform, is

______________________________ method only becomes obvious when it is extended to large bodies of inscriptions, and the number of required rules reaches astronomical levels; hence the tendency of claimed decipher- ments to provide only ‘samples’ of their results, prudently restricting the number of rules to outwardly plausible levels.” (Farmer et al. 2004: 20f.). The small number of interpreta- tions in my case simply results from the limitations of the available material, which does not allow any extensive decipherment.

22) For detailed documentation and illustrations, I refer to my earlier publications (Parpola 1994; 1997). As I will not be discussing the study of the Indus script in all its aspects, I would like to make a reference also to relevant chapters of various recent books: Robinson 1995: 144–148; 2002: 264–295; Kenoyer 1998: 68–79; McIntosh 2002: 140– 155; Possehl 1996; 2002: 127–139; Rogers 2005: 201–203.


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