Artificial Intelligence Cracks 4,000-Year-Old Mystery

Benjamin Fleming fleming_b4 at HOTMAIL.COM
Fri Apr 24 18:10:12 UTC 2009

Dear List,

As Enrica Garzilli's post was also cross-listed to the Eurasian list, I will
post my comments from there as well in this forum:

There is a lot of media spin-off from the Rao, et al piece, but little by
way of analysis of the data therein. The suggestion that Rao, "may have
solved the language-versus-symbol question" is dubious in as much as Rao's
analysis compares the ivc script to dna and batcterial protein sequences -
which have nothing to do with scripts or symbols ("tokens" as they call
them) - the analysis is thus skewed in my view. This of course, in addition
to the notable construction of the type 1 and 2 sequences that are entirely
fabricated and don't have any actual resonance with the ivc symbols or to
other actual systems of proto-script (you have to read Rao, et. al,
supplementary material to understand this).

If anyone would like a copy of the Rao article and their supplementary
analysis (where the actual work they did is contained). I would be happy to
send them off-list so that you may evaluate the material for yourselves!

The rebuttal to the Rao, et. al. paper by Farmer, Witzel, and Sproat can be
accessed here:

To be sure, the Rao, study is dependant on an article by Claude
Shannon "A Mathematical Theory of Communication," in The Bell System
Technical Journal 27 (1948), pp 379-423 and 623-656. E.g., their employment
of the phrase: "conditional entropy." Rao,, however, don't even
bother to give the title of this article in their bibliography. The Shannon
article is available here (see esp. pp. 14-15 of that study):

Such media spin-offs, as contained in the Wired article, that do not delve
deeply into the analysis are more harmful than they are informative, in my

Best Wishes,


On 4/24/09 1:10 PM, "Enrica Garzilli" <garzilli at ASIATICA.ORG> wrote:

> I want just to point out this post of April 23 on the Indus Valley C. in
> one of the most important technology magazines, *Wired*:
> Best,
> Enrica Garzilli

Benjamin Fleming
Mellon Post-doctoral Fellow, Dept. of Religious Studies
University of Pennsylvania
249 S. 36th Street; Claudia Cohen Hall, #234
Philadelphia, PA 19104 U.S.A.
Telephone - 215-746-7792

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