HYDERABAD: While much work has been done on deciphering the millennia old Egyptian, Mesopotamian and Chinese languages, the hieroglyphs used for written communication in Mohen Jo Daro have eluded decoding. At a seminar, organised at the Sindhi Language Authority (SLA) in Hyderabad on Friday, software experts working on digitising Sindhi language called for financial and technical assistance from the government to undertake the project of deciphering Mojen Jo Daro’s script.
“With the help of archaeologists, linguists and the government’s assistance, we can decipher the writings of Mohen Jo Daro by 2025 to 2030,” said Amar Fayaz Buriro, a software engineer and SLA employee whose team created the Sindhi Optical Character Recognition (OCR).
According to him, a total of 1,839 symbols have been found in Mohen Jo Daro. “Deciphering these symbols will be very extensive work,” he observed. Buoyed by developing the first Sindhi OCR, Buriro believed that with adequate government support, a team of professionals can successfully undertake this task.
He bewailed that so far no serious effort has been made to understand the archaic language. Shabbir Kumbhar, a Sindhi language computing expert, said seals, tablets and other materials with inscriptions of different shapes and animals found in Mohen Jo Daro are referred to as Indus script.
“A lengthy piece of writing hasn’t been found so far in the Indus script,” he said. Giving reference to Sir John Marshall’s book, he said Brahmic and Indus scripts share many similarities.
Some foreign experts like Michael Witzel and Steve Farmer have argued that the Indus script contained non-linguistic signs. But the other scholars like Asko Parpola and Rajesh Rao have controverted this assertion. “According to my own research, the old Chinese script also has similarities with the Indus script,” said Kumbhar.
He asked the Sindh government to realise significance of the issue and assign a team of experts to undertake the work. Dr Kaleemullah Lashari, an archaeologist and historian, believed that computer science can help decipher the language of Mohen Jo Daro. He deplored that the subject of archaeology has seen little research work in Sindh, saying that the universities will have to take responsibility in this regard.
Prof Rustam Khaskheli said some of the symbols whose apparent meaning is easier to understand tell us that Mohen Jo Daro was a river city and a trade hub. SLA Chairperson Prof Dr Abdul Ghafoor Memon also spoke.