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well as by myself. But our agreement is not limited to this, it comprises also the sequences in which the plain fish sign is preceded by a numeral sign. The numerals belong to those few Indus signs whose function and meaning can be deduced with fair certainty, partly from the fact that they consist of groups of vertical strokes, which is the way numerals are represented in many ancient scripts, partly from their mutual inter- changeability before (i.e., to the right of)37) specific signs, including the plain ‘fish’. The sequence ‘6’ + ‘fish’ yields the Old Tamil name of the Pleiades, a_ru-m¥$ _n, literally ‘6 stars’.

‘7’ + ‘fish’ corresponds to the Old Tamil name of the Ursa Major, e_lu-m¥$ _n. This sequence forms the entire inscription in one large seal

from Harappa. This seal can be compared to the large dedicatory seals presented to divinities in Mesopotamia, for the stars of Ursa Major are since Vedic times identified with the ancient “Seven Sages.” These mythical ancestors of priestly clans play a very important role in Indian mythology, including myths related to the origins of the phallic linga cult, which seems to originate in the Harappan religion. The Seven Sages moreover have a counterpart in the Seven Sages of the Meso- potamian religion: both groups are said to have survived the mythical flood.

A ‘Fish’ Sign with Diacritics But even non-numeral attributes of the ‘fish’ signs can be interpreted systematically from the same premises. Among the diacritical marks added to the basic ‘fish’ sign to form compound signs is one placed over the ‘fish’ sign. It looks like a ‘roof’. The most widespread root for words denoting ‘roof’ in Dravidian languages is *vay- / *vey- / *mey- ‘to cover a house with a thatched roof’. In Proto-Dravidian *vey- / *mey- ‘to roof’ was thus nearly homophonous with the root *may- ‘black’. The com- pound Indus sign consisting of the pictures of ‘roof’ and ‘fish’ can be

read as *mey-m¥$ n ‘roof-fish’ in the sense of *may-m¥$ n ‘black star’. What ______________________________

37) Right to left is the normal direction of writing in the Indus script. Seal stamps were carved in mirror image, so the normal writing direction is in the seal impressions.


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