Harappan animal icons/inscriptions

Ferenc Ruzsa f_ruzsa at ISIS.ELTE.HU
Mon Aug 7 14:12:00 UTC 2000

Steve Farmer suggested, that on Indus seals

>the *inscription* refers to a general classification --
>that is, to a profession, rank, sub-clan, or other
>social category -- but *not* to a personal name. The
>discovery of two such "ID tags" in the same place
>could, on this view, be easily explained by the presence
>in that place of two members of the same rank or profession
>(identified by the inscription) but from different clans or
>places of origin (symbolized by the quasi-totemic animal icon).

I think there is nothing impossible or improbable in two persons of different
tribes having identical names. You can have [in principle] a Lame Deer of the
Sioux and of the Apache.
On the other hand the texts probably cannot be names of professions - there
are simply too many different words. If they are not just free text (like a
family or personal motto), they should be names, I think. But not necessarily
personal names: they might as well be clan or sub-clan names, or even
designations of small areas/willages.
In the argument Farmer mentions as crucial evidence
>two seals found in John
>Marshall, _Mohenjodaro and the Indus Civilization_,
>1931, Vol. III, Plate CIX #252 and Plate CXII #378.
The original link to this location was found at
>the final footnote
>(p. 27, n. 25) of the introduction of Mahadevan's work.

Now Mahadevan in fact writes:
"The two sides of 1252 (MIC 252 and 378) have the same text but different
field symbols."
So according to Mahadevan they are not two objects at all, but two sides of
the *same* seal.
Can somebody check?

If it is really one object, then one text (the *single* owner's - name???) can
have two animals - two affiliations? A maternal and a paternal descent? A
tribe and a position (e.g. in the king's service - the ubiquitous unicorn)?

Ferenc Ruzsa

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