Science Mag: "no Indus script"

George Thompson gthomgt at ADELPHIA.NET
Sun Dec 26 10:29:40 EST 2004

Well, I am no ziSTa when it comes to IVC, but I have paid attention to the
general discussion.  Since genuine IVC ziSTas have not made appearance on
the list in a long while, maybe it is not presumptuous of me to comment.

It seems to me that IVC ziSTas have at times acknowledged this very
circularity that Jonathan refers to, but typically they have returned
thereafter, with a polite tipping of the hat in passing, to their familiar
and indeed circular beaten paths.

Let us take the treatment of proto-Ziva in Parpola 1994 [chapter 10].

This interpretation of some very famous seals [M-304 & M-305; Parpola 1994's
Fig. 10.18 ('Proto-Siva') & Fig. 10.9 ('deity in "yogic" posture'] is a
brilliant, fascinating tour-de-force, a great example of what is called
"thick description."  Whenever I read this chapter I am dazzled again.  It
ranges over so much Sanskrit literature, Vedic, Epic, Puranic, and also
moves gracefully between old Dravidian etymologies and passages from early
Tamil literature; iconography from Buddhist and Hindu traditions of late
historical periods; Mesopotamian iconography that is sometimes as much as
4000 years older than their Indic parallels [whereas the later Indic
parallels are sometimes 2000-3000 years younger than their IVC parallels;
there is a great deal of IE and Dravidian etymologizing, etc. etc.

It is a grat story, or maybe I should say that is a chapter in an even
greater story: a unified theory of all of Indian history.

For Dean, some of the elements of this story are "undoubted."  But I think
that there is a lot that is doubtful in this grand narrative, not only in
the general telling, but also in the details.

This doesn't mean that I think that the whole story is wrong or worthless
[far from it!].  It means that in my view much of it is speculative and that
little of it has been truly demonstrated beyond a reasonable "doubt."

I don't think that I am alone in having such a view.

A note to Ferenc: I agree with your point that finds of 20+ pieces at
several sites, instead of only a few at one site, would in fact strengthen
"the no-lost-mss" thesis.  I also do not have access to the volumes of
Maarshall right now, but if you take a look at Salomon's  epigraphy survey
you will find that many of the paraphernalia are found at IVC-neighboring
sites.  Also, one might compare the inscribed pots and potshards discussed
in Salomon's *Ancient Buddhist Scrolls from Gandhara.*  To be sure, there is
a significant difference between "much evidence" and "a little evidence,"
but perhaps there is a more significant difference between "a little
evidence" and "absolutely none."

Best wishes,

George Thompson

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