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other seals.51) The first sign in this sequence is ‘two parallel curved or winding lines’52) probably depicting ‘river’ or ‘water’, like the similar- looking sign of the archaic Sumerian script. The phrase corresponds to the Tamil compound n¥$ r-k-kanti ‘a village servant who looks to the distribution of water for irrigation’. Such an occupational title makes sense in the context of the Indus Civilization.53) The proposed interpre- tation of the ‘water’ sign can be tested in several other contexts, but I will stop the examination here.

The self-imposed demand of verification makes me reluctant to propose Dravidian interpretations that cannot be supported by actual linguistic evidence, such as compounds attested in Dravidian languages. Suspected compounds may actually exist, or have existed, but limita- tions of our sources and dictionaries may make them inaccessible to researchers. Really ancient texts not much affected by Indo-Aryan exist only for a single Dravidian language, Old Tamil, and the vocabulary of most Dravidian languages, especially their compounds, is, generally speaking, still very incompletely recorded. Thus it is not only the Indus texts that are scanty and make progress difficult.


Amiet, Pierre 1980. La glyptique mésopotamienne archaïque. 2e éd. Paris: Éditions du Centre National de Recherche Scientifique.

  • ————

    1986. L’âge des échanges inter-iraniens 3500–1700 avant J.-C. (Notes et docu- ments des musées de France, 11.) Paris: Éditions de la Reunion des musées nationaux.

Black, Jeremy & Anthony Green 1992. Gods, demons and symbols of ancient Mesopotamia:

An illustrated dictionary. London: British Museum Press. Burrow, Thomas, & Murray B. Emeneau 1984. A Dravidian etymological dictionary.

Revised ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Carpelan, Christian & Asko Parpola 2001. “Emergence, contacts and dispersal of Proto- ______________________________

51) Cf. H-396 and H-568 from Harappa and M-205 from Mohenjo-daro in Joshi & Parpola 1987 and Shah & Parpola 1991.

  • 52)

    Sign no. 175 in Parpola 1994: 73.

  • 53)

    Cf. Kenoyer 1998: 38; 42; 163; Possehl 2002: 35; 64f.


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