The Languages of Harappa: Early Linguistic Data and the Indus civilization

Witzel, Michael

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Each year, or as it seems, by now every other month, we see a new decipherment of the Indus script. Beyond G. Possehl's fifty-odd examples (Possehl 1996), there must be some dozens more, by now frequently found on the internet. However, as is well known, neither is the script itself well understood nor do we know on which language it is based and for which languages it has been used. In this paper, I am not going to add myself to the long list of failures of decipherment of the script. Instead, I think we should first prepare the ground for such undertaking by investigating the peculiarities of the script itself, a task that has not been carried systematically enough (Wells 1998). Secondly, we should take a much closer look at the various sources which may indicate which languages were spoken in the core areas of the Indus civilization, in the Greater Panjab and in Sindh-Baluchistan.

Document type: Article
Date: 2000
Version: Primary publication
Date Deposited: 17 April 2008
DDC-classification: Language, Linguistics
Controlled Subjects: Harappakultur, Schrift, Sprache
Uncontrolled Keywords: Harappa , Induskultur , Schrift , Sprache, Harappa , Indus civilization , Languages
Series: People > Kleine Schriften von Michael Witzel
Volume: 13