help in identifying mss scroll script

David Magier magier at COLUMBIA.EDU
Mon Mar 20 17:10:08 UTC 2006

Dear colleagues,
I have been asked to help another colleague in the effort to identify the 
script and language contained in a manuscript scroll. I am way out of my 
league here (and do not recognize the script myself). I have improved the 
contrast in the images, compressed them a bit for ease of downloading, and 
placed them in a temporary location on our web server for you to look at:


In the forwarded background correspondence below, I have changed names to 
initials, to follow protocol for group-forwarding of the emails of others.

Many thanks for any suggestions.

David Magier
South/Southeast Asia Librarian
Columbia University Libraries


Dear Mr. David Magier; Carol P. -a friend from the Butler library,
suggested that I forward a research request to you - the response from
other researchers - is partially listed below.  Attached are a few
images from a scroll that a scholar (and supporter of our library here
at the Cooper-Hewitt) has asked us to research.  These scholars have
noted that the language origin is probably from Tibet/Nepal/India -not
earlier language forms found in the areas -in present day
Iran-Iraq-Turkey-Greece-Balkan states. Researcher is looking for
language - possible translation - and approx date written. Could let us
know who to ask (if not Columbia). Thanks. SvD


Dear Mr. Van Dyk,

The seal looks almost Medusa-like. One could expect some
kind of Graeco-Bactrian, perhaps, but the script, which looks very
repetitive, is not like any Graeco-Bactrian or later Greek-based writing
systems (e.g. Hephthalite) that I have seen. Given its repetitive
nature, it may be some kind of prayer (or curse). Robert McChesney's
suggestion to let an Indologist take at look at it is a good idea. Sorry
that I cannot be of any help here.

Best, PBG

Dear PBG: as you  can see from the e-mail response below, Robert
McChesney from NYU suggested that I contact you concerning the attached
scroll inscriptions - a researcher wants to know what language it is, a
translation if possible & approximate age.  Thanks. SvD

This is not one of the Arabic script-based languages: Arabic, Persian
(Farsi, Dari), Chaghatay Turkish, OttomanTurkish, Urdu. My best
suggestion would be to try an Indologist. I have no one to suggest but
Columbia would be the place to look. On the off chance that this
originates from Inner Asia the best person I can think of is PBG.
Good luck.  RM


Dear RM - we spoke a week or so ago about translating an
inscription from a scroll that a researcher thinks is Afghani - attached
are a few shots that were forwarded to me at the museum.  IS at
the Met indicated that the script was not cuneiform -not Mesopotamian
-his area of expertise.  Can you give us a lead or know who I should
forward these images to?  Many Thanks.  SvD

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