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role in Mesopotamia, and deeply influenced the religion: all the main gods were symbolized by particular stars or planets. The orientation of streets and buildings according to the cardinal directions in Harappan cities provides concrete evidence for the practice of astronomy, which, as the basis of time-reckoning, was an integral part of all early civiliza- tions. In Hindu religion, too, stars and planets have important divinities as their ‘overlords’. The domestic manuals of the Veda further prescribe that children should be given secret ‘star names’. Thus it is not far- fetched to suppose that the ‘fish’ signs on the Indus seals could stand for Proto-Dravidian names of stars, used as symbols for gods and as parts of human proper names. There is some external evidence that supports this hypothetical re- bus reading. The association of fish and star (based on the homophony between the two Proto-Dravidian words both pronounced m¥$ n_ ) seems to be reflected on Harappan painted pottery from Amri, where the mo- tifs of fish and star co-occur. In the Near East, the star symbol distin- guished divinities even in pictorial representations. A seal from Mohenjo-daro (M-305, see Fig. 2) depicts an Indus deity with a star on either side of his head in this Near Eastern fashion. (Fig. 2)

A Numeral Sign + ‘Fish’ Assuming that the language underlying the Indus script is Dravidian, it is difficult to avoid certain readings and conclusions. Long ago, Father Henry Heras suggested that the plain fish sign is to be read as m¥$ n. This reading has been proposed by Russian students of the Indus script as

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