You are on page 1of 266

Indus script discoveries outside Meluhha

-- mlecccha artisan guild tokens

S. Kalyanaraman 6 Oct. 2009


Hypothesis: Meluhhans had invented the Indus script writing system ca. 4th millennium

BCE, to encode their speech: mleccha. Many of them were sea-faring artisan-merchants

from Sarasvati-Sindhu river basins.

As sea-faring merchants, the artisan/smith guilds of Sarasvati-Sindhu civilization areas,

had continued the practice of preparing mleccha smith guild tokens in contemporaneous

interaction areas west of Sindhu and with civilizations across and beyond the Persian

Gulf. This monograph presents a view that the Indus script was a writing system invented

to communicate information – in the language of the inventors -- on the technologies,

resources, and processes involved in the production and distribution of select

commodities surplus to the requirements of the inventors. Such a writing system also

involved communicating information about administrative structures (such as guilds of

artisans) which supported/authenticated the production process. The Indus script

decoded speech of artisans who had experimented with and developed skills in mining

and metallurgy.

Thus, the writing system was a complementary technology, used to enhance or to

substitute oral communication (or speech) related to metallurgical technologies. Almost

all the epigraphs of the script (including epigraphs incised on metallic weapons/tools/

copper tablets, painted on bangles and a gold pendant, incised on a gold fillet headband
and a steatite pectoral ornament) are professional guild tokens, authenticating the traded

alloy/metal/mineral products, decoding the underlying mleccha speech. The guild tokens

were, thus, professional calling cards of the guilds which could also be used to create

sealed impressions on packages traded in an impressive long-distance trade.

In one instance, the token of a smithy/forge

guild was exhibited on a monolithic sign-

board on a gate of the fortification in

Dholavira. (Dholavira. Northern gateway of

the citadel with a sign-board.

Reconstruction, courtesy: )

So can the cognate glyphs on Proto-elamite, Magan, Mesopotamian and Dilmun seals –

exemplified by the Gadd seals or seals from Saar (Magan) – and on two tin ingots, be

decoded as metallurgical repertoire of mleccha smith guilds.

The following objects discovered outside of Sarasvati-Sindhu river basins are presented:

95 seal and fragments of seals at Saar

220 sealings or fragments of sealings at Saar

16 Gadd's list of "seals of ancient Indian style found at Ur"
10 Persian Gulf seals and one Persian Gulf sealing reported by Brunswig, Parpola
and Potts
2 Yale tablets
Over 10 Mesopotamian cylinder seals from Met Museum and British Museum
1 Mcmohan cylinder seal
1 Legrain's seal impression
2 seals reported by Frankfort
2 inscribed tin ingots of a Haifa shipwreck
1 Akkadian cylinder seal showing a Meluhhan

Texts related to West Asian inscriptions (either not illustrated or not linked):

Impression of a seal from Umma. One-hornd heifer. Scheil 1925. Indicative of the receipt

of goods from the Sarasvati-Sindhu and of the possible presence of Indus traders in

Mesopotamia. Tell Asmar seals, together with ceramics, knobbed ware, etched beads

and kidney shaped inlay of bone provide supporting evidence for this possibility.

Two inscribed tin ingots discovered in a shipwreck in Haifa provide the evidence for the

rebus method of the writing system and mleccha as the underlying speech encoded by

the glyphs.

An Akkadian cylinder seal provides the evidence for the presence of a Meluhhan speaker

artisan/merchant in Mesopotamia and that meluhha (mleccha) is a non-akkadian


Two tin ingots and an Akkadian cylinder seal as rosetta stones

Tin ingots (Sarasvati rosetta stones) found in a ship-wreck, Haifa incised with Sarasvati

hieroglyphs [New evidence for sources of and

trade in bronze age tin, in: Alan D. Franklin,

Jacqueline S. Olin, and Theodore A. Wertime, The

Search for Ancient Tin, 1977, Seminar organized

by Theodore A. Wertime and held at the

Smithsonian Institution and the National Bureau of

Standards, Washington, D.C., March 14-15, 1977].

• [Copper tablet; side B perhaps is a

graphemic representation of an antelope; note the ligatured tail comparable to the

tail on m273, b012 and k037]

• ran:ku = tin (Santali)

• ran:ku = liquid measure (Santali)

• ran:ku a species of deer; ran:kuka (Skt.)(CDIAL 10559). See middle glyph on

copper plates m0522 & m0516

• dāt.u = cross (Te.); dhatu = mineral (Santali)

• H. dhāt.nā ‘to send out, pour out, cast (metal)’ (CDIAL 6771).

Akkadian. Cylinder seal Impression. Inscription

records that it belongs to ‘Shu-ilishu, Meluhha

interpreter’, i.e., translator of the Meluhhan

language (EME.BAL.ME.LUH.HA.KI) The

Meluhhan being introduced carries a goat on his

arm. The accompanying person holds a situla. A

kettle on a trivet with two jars above. Person seated on a stool with a child on the lap.

Musee du Louvre. Ao 22 310, Collection De Clercq. 3rd millennium BCE. The Meluhhan

is accompanied by a lady carrying a kaman.d.alu. Since he needed an interpreter,

Meluhhan did not speak Akkadian.

Antelope carried by the Meluhhan is a hieroglyph: mlekh ‘goat’ (Br.); mr..eka (Te.); (Ta.); (Skt.) Thus, the goat conveys the message that the carrier is a

Meluhha speaker. A phonetic determinant. mr..eka, mlekh ‘goat’; rebus: melukkha

Br. mēlh ‘goat’. Te. mr̤..eka (DEDR 5087)

Hieroglyph, phonetic determinant of ‘meluhha’ (mleccha)


Rim-of-jar glyph. Seal. Daimabad. Ca. 1400 BCE.

This monograph complements the work on the hieroglyphs of the script of

Meluhha (mleccha) with a focus on the use of the glyptics of the script in neigbouring

civilization areas such as Magan, Dilmun, and Mesopotamia. The writing system

continued among metallurgists who created the mints for early coins; in India, these were

punch-marked coins of many janapadas (republics). Kota language documents the

smithy as a temple. Kole.l means, ‘smithy, temple in Kota village (Kota); kwala.l Kota

smithy (Toda)(DEDR 2133). Koles were iron-smelters. The scribe was karNaka (kanka

in mleccha) represented rebus by the rim of a jar. This glyph becomes the glyph used

with the highest frequency on Indus script epigraphs. The scribe had arrived as an

artisan with capability and skills to write on copper plates and to inscribe/punch-mark on

early coins.

A ‘Sheffield of Ancient India’:

Chanhu-Daro’s Metal working

Industry. Illustrated London

News 1936 – November 21st.

That a metallurgist was

involved as a scribe in making

the seals is evidenced by a

seal from Chanhudaro which

is referred to as a Sheffield of

Ancient India by the

excavator, Ernest Mackay.

This seal uses the double-axe as a glyph.

c-023 Seal. Double-axe + other arms and armour meḍho a ram, a sheep

(G.)(CDIAL 10120); me_n.d.ha = ram (Skt.)(CDIAL 10310). me_l.h goat

(without etymology)(Brahui); mr..e_ka (unknown meaning)(Te.); me_~ka

= goat (Te.)(DEDR 5087). Rebus: med. 'iron' (Mundari) milakkhu ‘copper’ (Pali);

mlecchamukha id. (Skt.)!A74A2ADBFA0A3358!3049.entry

M0592 double-axe shown on a

copper plate, which depicts a

double-axe identical to the one

unearthed in Sumer, Mesopotamia,

ca. 3000 BC

Chanhudaro 23 seal: double-axe shown in front of antelope

Dagger and axes found in an Ur

grave. Sumerian double-bladed

axe, Ur (V. Gordon Childe, 1929,

The most ancient East: the oriental

prelude to European history,

London, Kegan Paul, Trench,

Trubner and Co. Ltd., Fig. 72b)

Why svastika appears with endlessknot glyph [meṛhao ‘twisted’ (Mu.); meḍ ‘iron’ (Mu.)]:

‘sattva, jasta’ = zinc


Cylinder seal


Sumer (ca. 2500

BCE). After

Amiet 1980a: pl. 108, no. 1435

Early Dynastic seal. Lagash. After Amiet

1980a: pl. 83, no. 1099

Rojdi axe

• Mer.hao = entwine itself; wind round,

wrap round roll up; mar.hna_ cover, encase (H) (Santali.lex.Bodding) [Note: the

endless-knot motif may be a rebus representation of this semant. ‘entwine itself’].

mer.hā = curl, snarl, twist or tangle in cord or thread (M.); meli, melika = a turn, a

twist, a loop, entanglement; meliyu, melivad.u, meligonu = to get twisted or

entwined (Te.lex.) merhao = twist (Mun.d.ari)

• me~t.he~t = iron (Santali)

m1457Actm1457Bct 2904 Copper tablet




Interaction areas. After Fig. 2 in P.R.S. Moorey, 1994, Ancient Mesopotamian Materials

and Industries, Oxford, Clarendon Press.

In the Great Epic of Mahabharata, we read how Sahadeva, the youngest of the PāNDava

brothers, continued his march of conquest till he reached several islands in the sea (no

doubt with the help of ships) and subjugated the Mleccha inhabitants thereof.

BrahmāNDa 2.74.11, Brahma 13.152, Harivaṁśa 1841, Matsya 48.9, Vāyu 99.11, cf. also

VishNu 4.17.5, Bhāgavata 9.23.15, see Kirfel 1927: 522:

pracetasah putraśatam rāja_nah sarva eva te // mleccharAStrAdhipAh sarve udIcīm

diśam āśritāh

which means, of course, not that these '100' kings conquered the 'northern countries'

way beyond the Hindukuṣ or Himalayas, but that all these 100 kings, sons of pracetās (a
descendant of a 'druhyu'), kings of mleccha kingdoms, are 'adjacent' (āśrita) to the

'northern direction,' -- which since the Vedas and Pāṇini has signified Greater gandhāra.

(Kirfel, W. Das Purāṇa Pañcalakṣaṇa. Bonn : K. Schroeder 1927)

Mleccha was substratum language of bharatiyo (casters of metal) many of whom lived in

dvīpa (land between two rivers –Sindhu and Sarasvati -- or islands on Gulf of Kutch, Gulf

of Khambat, Makran coast and along the Persian Gulf region of Meluhha)

Tanana mleccha. A Jaina text, Avasyaka Churani notes that ivory trade was managed by

tanana mleccha, who also traveled from Uttaravaha to Dakshinapatha. (Jain, Life in

Ancient India as Described in the Jain Canon and Commentaries (6th century BC - 17th

century AD,*1984, p. 150). Guttila Jataka (ca.4th cent.) makes reference to itinerant ivory

workers/traders journeying from Varanasi to Ujjain. (Jatakas, Cowell, 1973, Book II, p.

172 ff.) The word, tanana in tanana mleccha may be related to: (i) tah'nai, 'engraver'

mleccha; or (ii) tana, 'of (mleccha) lineage'. 1. See Kuwi. tah'nai 'to engrave' in DEDR

and Bsh. then, thon, 'small axe' in CDIAL: DEDR 3146 *Go.* (Tr.) tarcana , (Mu.) tarc- to

scrape; (Ma.) tarsk- id., plane; (D.) task-, (Mu.) tarsk-/tarisk- to level, scrape


Gelb's hypothesis was that proto-Elamite, like proto-Indic (Indus script),

represented a 'fully developed system' with regard to phonetization.

(Gelb, I.J., 1952, A study of writing: the foundations of grammatology,

Chicago, Univerity of Chicago Press, p.218). [grammatology: study of

writing systems.] Gelb is right about proto-indic (Indus script).

Warrior carrying weapons, Mari, Mesopotamia which had trade contacts

with Sarasvati Civilization

Gelb tried to argue that Mesoamerican writing syste12ms were not phonetic coding.

(Gelb, 1952, p. 58). Gelb was wrong.

Proto-Elamite uses more abstract graphics than Indus script. Indus script is dominated by

pictographs as field-symbols and many ‘signs’ are also pictographic, not unlike Egyptian

hieroglyphs using the orthography of a pictographic style. Indus script has also evolved

beyond the pictorial glyphs by evolving signs from pictographs. (E.g., water-carrier glyph

as a sign; antelope as a sign).

m0516At m0516Bt 3398 [Copper tablet; side B perhaps is a

graphemic representation of an antelope

The following are examples of Indus script inscriptions

with only pictorial motifs and/or only one sign.

M838 seal. Seal impression, Ur (Upenn; U.16747); dia.

2.6, ht. 0.9 cm.; Gadd, PBA 18 (1932), pp. 11-12, pl. II, no. 12; Porada

1971: pl.9, fig.5; Parpola, 1994, p. 183; water carrier with a skin (or pot?) hung on each

end of the yoke across his shoulders and another one below the crook of his left arm; the

vessel on the right end of his yoke is over a receptacle for the water; a star on either side

of the head (denoting supernatural?). The whole object is enclosed by 'parenthesis'

marks. The parenthesis is perhaps a way of splitting of the ellipse (Hunter, G.R., JRAS,

1932, 476). An unmistakable example of an 'hieroglyphic' seal.

m1405At Pict-97: Person standing at the center pointing with his right hand at a bison

facing a trough, and with his left hand pointing to the sign

kōḷ ‘planet’ (Ta.). Rebus: kol = metal (Ta.) Sign 12 (80)

kuṭi ‘water carrier’ (Te.) kuṭhi = kiln (Santali)

Enclosure signs of the field: ( ) kuṭila = bent, crooked (Skt.Rasaratna

samuccaya, 5.205) Humpbacked kuḍilla (Pkt.)

• Forged (metal) koṭe meṛed = forged iron (Mu.) CDIAL 3230 kuṭi— in cmpd.

‘curve’, kuṭika— ‘bent’ MBh. [√kuṭ 1] Ext. in H. kuṛuk f. ‘coil of string or rope’; M.

kuḍċā m. ‘palm contracted and hollowed’, kuḍapṇẽ ‘to curl over, crisp, contract’.

• 3231 kuṭilá— ‘bent, crooked’ KātyŚr., °aka— Pañcat., n. ‘a partic. plant’ lex. [√kuṭ

1] Pa. kuṭila— ‘bent’, n. ‘bend’; Pk. kuḍila— ‘crooked’, °illa— ‘humpbacked’,

°illaya— ‘bent’DEDR 2054 (a) Ta. koṭu curved, bent, crooked; koṭumai

crookedness, obliquity; koṭukki hooked bar for fastening doors, clasp of an

ornament; koṭuṅ-kāy cucumber; koṭuṅ-kai folded arm; koṭu-maram bow; koṭu-vāy

curved or bent edge (as of billhook); koṭu-vāḷ pruning knife, billhook, sickle, battle-

axe; kuṭa curved, bent; kuṭakkam bend, curve, crookedness; kuṭakki that which is

crooked; kuṭakkiyaṉ humpback; kuṭaṅku (kuṭaṅki-) to bend (intr.); kuṭaṅkai palm

of hand; kuṭantai curve; kuṭavu (kuṭavi-) to be crooked, bent, curved; n. bend,

curve; kuṭā bend, curve; kōṭu (kōṭi-) to bend, be crooked, go astray, be biased; n.

crookedness, obliquity; kōṭal bending, curving; kōṭi bend, curve; kōṭṭam bend,

curve, warp, partiality, crookedness (as of mind); kōṭṭu (kōṭṭi-) to bend (tr.); ṭoṅku

crookedness. Ma. koṭuṅ-kai bent arm; koṭu-vāḷ hatchet, large splitting knife;

kōṭuka to be crooked, twisted, awry, warp (of wood); kōṭṭuka to bend (tr.); kōṭṭam

crookedness, distortion; kōṭṭal what is crooked, turn, way of escape. Ko. koṛy crick

in neck from sleeping crooked or lifting heavy burden.

kuṭila, katthīl = bronze (8 parts copper and 2 parts tin) [cf. āra-kūṭa, ‘brass’ (Skt.)

kuṭi, kuṭhi, kuṭa, kuṭha a tree (Kaus'.); kud.a tree (Pkt.); kuṛā tree; kar.ek tree, oak
(Pas;.)(CDIAL 3228). kuṭha, kuṭa (Ka.), kuḍal (Go.) kuḍar. (Go.) kuṭha_ra, kuṭha,

kuṭaka = a tree (Skt.lex.) kut., kurun: = stump of a tree (Bond.a); khuṭ = id. (Or.) kuṭamu

= a tree (Te.lex.)

Molded terracotta tablet showing a tree with branches; the stem emanates from

a platform (ingot?). Harappa. (After JM Kenoyer/Courtesy Dept. of Archaeology

and Museums, Govt. of


Traces of tree on platform

are visible to the left of the

jackal (?).Administrative

tablet with cylinder seal

impression of a male

figure, hunting dogs, and

boars, 3100–2900 B.C.;

Jemdet Nasr period (Uruk

III script)

Mesopotamia Clay; H. 2 in.

(5.3 cm) The seal impression depicts a male figure guiding two dogs on a leash and

hunting or herding boars in a marsh environment.

Ras-al-Junayz. Copper seal. kolom ‘three’ (Mu.) Rebus: kolami

‘furnace, smithy’ (Te.) Two silver seals at Mohenjodaro, two copper

seals at Lotha, 8 molded copper tablets at Harappa and copper seals

at Lothal and at Ras al-Juayz are rare uses of metal as a medium for conveying


Eight inscribed copper tablets were found at Harappa

and all were made with raised script, a technique quite

different from the one used at Mohenjo-daro for flat

copper tablets with many duplicates. Harappa. Raised

script. H94-2198. [After Fig. 4.14 in JM Kenoyer, 1998]. The duplicates occur on steatite

and faience tablets at Harappa; these may have represented a commodity or a value. [cf.

JM Kenoyer, 1998, p. 74]. Yes, indeed, they are smith guild tokens like all other

epigraphs of the civilization.

Damb sadat burial

vessel: pair of zebu or

bos indicus

adar ḍangra ‘zebu,

bos indicus’

• native metal

• Smith (ḍhangar)

• dol = likeness, picture, form (Santali) Rebus: dul m. = cast iron (Santali)


veṛhā octopus, said to be found in the Indus (Jaṭki lexicon of A. Jukes, 1900

m297a. seal. h1018 copper plate

Rebus: L. veṛh, vehṛ m. fencing; Mth. beṛhī granary; L. veṛhā, vehṛā enclosure

containing many houses; beṛā building with a courtyard (WPah.) (CDIAL 12130)

koḍ = artisan’s workshop (Kuwi); koḍ ‘horn’

m1540 copper tablet kamaṛkom = fig leaf (Santali.lex.)

kamarmaṛā(Has.), kamaṛkom (Nag.); the petiole or stalk of a leaf


kamāṭhiyo = archer; kāmaṭhum = a bow; ka_mad.i_,

= a chip of bamboo (G.) kāmaṭhiyo a bowman; an archer


Provenance: 1.
Bronze age site,

Kalenao near the

Turkmeni frontier,

North West


Commentary: While numerous Indus Valley stamp seals are known (cf. MS 2394), this is
the only known cylinder seal (MS 2645) with the hitherto undeciphered Indus Valley

script. Furthermore, this is the only known document linking together over land two of the

great civilisations of the Old Akkadian period in Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley. Sea-

borne trade has been known for a long time, and documented in practical terms by the

Norwegian explorer and scientist, Thor Heyerdahl, in his expedition with the reed boat,

Tigris, in 1977. sapap = arms, tools, implements, instruments, gear; sendra reak sapap =

gear for hunting; raj mistri reak sapap = the tools of a mason; kurta rorok reak sapap =

the tools with which to sew a coat (Santali)

sb1 rhd1 m

443 m442a m439 m438 m271 m312

m270 m418 m353

m352a-f (6

sides) m346 (There are about 50 seals with just this glyph) m1356

m1349 m1183 m1171 m1123

k058 k057 k053 jk001 h349

h238a h181 h166 h108

copper h020 m446 m417

m410 m298 m273a m272 m227

h521 h517 h516 m324 m1656 (steatite

pectoral) b011 b012 b015 dmd001 h443

h447 h481 h714 m1655

m1405 m137 m1170

m1162 m1118 m1084 k037 k035

k034 k027 m201 There are over 100 inscriptions with just two

signs (without a pictorial motif or in addition to a pictorial motif)

These examples point to the possibility that pictorial motifs are as important as signs and

must be 'deciphered' to understand the message conveyed by the inscription on an


The use of pictorial motifs to convey information is vividly seen on Magan seals which

use glyphs comparable to the Indus script glyphs.

A field symbol in Mahadevan corpus. Pict-49 Uncertain animal with dotted circles on its


Obverse of steatite Dilmun stamp seal from Failaka Island (c. 2000 BCE). A human

figure and a variety of animals – two antelopes one with its head looking backward;

possibly a scorpion at the feet of the human

figure. A dotted circle is seen above one

antelope and a vase in between the antelope

and the human figure. Kuwait National Museum. French

Archaeological Expedition in Kuwait. Several inscriptions at

Failaka mention the Dilmunite god Enzak and his temple or Mesopotamian deities. [Remi

Boucharlat, Archaeology and Artifacts of the Arabian Peninsula, in: Jack M. Sasson

(ed.), Civilizations of the Ancient Near East, pp. 1335-1353].

Seal Chanhujodaro (Mackay 1943: pl. 51: 13).

Ta. meṭṭu (meṭṭi-) to spurn or push with the foot. Ko. meṭ- (mec-
) to trample on, tread on; meṭ sole of foot, footstep, footprint.

Malt. maḍye to trample, tread. (DEDR 5057) Rebus: meḍ ‘iron’


ḍhan:ga = tall, long shanked; maran: d.han:gi aimai kanae = she is a big tall woman

(Santali.lex.) Rebus: ḍhan:gar


meḍ ‘body’; meḍ ‘iron’ (Ho.)

Vikalpa: kāṭhī = body, person; kāṭhī

the make of the body; the stature of

a man (G.) khātī ‘wheelwright’ (H.)

Left. Margiana, stamp seal: obverse, attacking lion; reverse: a bull copulating with a

woman. ; Right: Chanhujo-daro seal: the bull is leaning over a lying woman with opened

legs (Mackay, 1943, pl. 51:

urseal8Seal; BM 118704; U. 6020; Gadd PBA 18 (1932), pp.

9-10, pl. II, no.8; two figures carry between them a vase, and

one presents a goat-like animal (not an antelope) which he

holds by the neck.

me~ṛhe~t = iron (Ore) [Rebus: me~t = the eye (Santali) ,

orthography: dotted circle.] meḍa ‘neck’ (Te.) mēṭam = goat (Ta )

ḍhāḷ = a slope; the inclination of a plane (G.) Rebus: : ḍhāḷako = a large metal ingot (G.)

piserā = a small deer brown above and black below (H.)(CDIAL 8365). Rebus: pasra = a

smithy (Santali) blacksmith’s forge (Sad.)

ḍhan:ga = tall, long shanked; maran: ḍhan:gi aimai kanae = she is a big tall woman

(Santali.lex.) Rebus: d.han:gar 'blacksmith'

m1123 This is clearly comparable to the seals found at Saar (Magan)

The question to ask is: is the choice of a glyph just arbitrary, while attempting to
communicate knowledge through writing? The answer lies in the orthographic styles used
to convey knowledge. If the orthographic styles use glyphs which are immediately
recognizable as objects familiar to the creator/sender/receiver
of the glyphs, the choice seems to be based on phonetization.
That is, the word used to phonetically refer to the objects
chosen to be represented as glyphs. Many glyphs chosen in Indus script

are unambiguous references to animals and pottery objects. That there is no ambiguity is
a pointer to phonetization of the glyphs. See, for example, the repeated glyphs of a
rhinoceros, a crocodile, a tiger, a one-horned heifer, a zebu bull, a trough in front of wild
or domesticated animal, rim of a jar or a wide-mouthed rimless pot. There could be no
ambiguity in the interpretation of such glyphs. There could, however, be ambiguity in the
choice of abstract symbols such as a svastika or a square with divisions or a PLUS glyph
and have to be categorized only in the context of the other glyphs which constitute the

If proto-Elamite used a gazelle or an antelope as one of the chosen glyphs, is it

phonetized or not? Is the glyph painted on the storage jar of Tepe Sialk phonetized or

not? If phonetized, can it refer to a profession of the owner of the jar or a product

contained in the jar?

Use of image field -- for art, for writing

A remarkable clue comes from an alabaster vase from Uruk, Iraq c. 3500 to 3000 BCE

(36 cms., Iraq Museum, Baghdad).

"...records the festival of the New Year.

On the top band of carving a man

presents a basket to a woman, either

the mother goddess Inanna or her

priestess, behind whom other gifts are

piled up: more baskets, vases and a ram supporting clothed

statuettes or figures of a man and a woman. Beneath this there is

a procession of men carrying more gifts; they are naked, as men

were usually represented when approaching the gods. Alternating

ewes and rams fill the lowest register above a frieze of date palms and ears of barley.

This is the earliest instance of an artist exploiting the possibilities of the defined 'image

field', in which figures stan on a firm ground line in an area that could be understood as

representing space. It is significant that it accompanied the invention of writing. The

regularity of direction, spacing and grouping so evident in the Uruk vase corresponds to

that of writing, as may also the use of parallel bands to create a tiered composition, with

one row of scenes above another -- a system that was to be used for the next 5000

years, especially for narrative illustration. On the Uruk vase the sequence is hierarchical

rather than chronological. Each frieze is a continuous procession without beginning or

end..." (Hugh Honor and John Fleming, 1982, A world history of art, London, Laurence

King Publishing Ltd.) Inanna is signified by two bundles of reeds behind her.

Indus script seal impressions point to the use of the glyphs on packages transmitted from

one place to another. It is a reasonable hypothesis that the glyphs are phonetized to

represent professions (as identifiers of the producer of the product or place of production

of the commodity) or commodities (as identifiers of the contents of the packages).

Thus, function determines the form (orthography) of a glyph which is a representation of

a noun.

Many Indus script epigraphs contain a heading represented by the pictorial motif (animal

or groups of animals or composite animal or animal -- tiger/antelope -- looking back,

person seated on a tree branch, persons vaulting over an animal). This heading is

followed on the remaining space of the inscribed object with a sequence of an average of

about 5 or 6 signs. The signs and the pictorial motif have to be read TOGETHER, as

integral components of the message transmitted. If the pictorial motif is ignored and

decoding focusses only on the signs/sign sequences (say, in search of syntax or

grammatical indicators), some categorical information sought to be conveyed may be lost

in the arbitrary, selective process chosen for decoding. Ziggurat made of

1.25 million mud-bricks and some 500 pieces of copper scrap. The Louvre has also

excavated a cemetery near the structures that have been dated as far back as 7,500

years. Was this, like Mohenjodaro,

a mound of the dead making it a shrine to venerate the

ancestors? See: Mohenjodaro, mound of the dead,

stupa as temple at

The word, da_r.o in Sindhi means 'feast given to the relatives in honour of the dead'. Artist's rendition of what the ziggurat of

Tepe Sialk might have looked like 5000 years ago.

Storage jar 4th millennium

BCE found at Tepe Sialk.

Teheran's National

Museum of Iran. The

antelope depicted on the

jar is also used as a glyph

on proto-Elamite script.

Etemenanki, the name for the structure,

is Sumerian and means "The Foundation of Heaven



g Reconstructed facade of the ziggurat of Ur-nammu at Ur.

Stupa mound, Mohenjodaro.

Proto-Elamite, potters’ marks and Indus script

Reviewing about 400

potter’s marks from Tepe
Yahya in Kerman province, southern Iran, Potts proposes
hypotheses concerning the possibility of a relationship between Proto-Elamite and
Harappan scripts and in particular, that the Proto-Elamite writing system is ancestral to
the Mature Harappan script. Proto-Elamite script was used between c. 3400 to 2800 BCE
(Vallat 1978, 63-66). (D. Potts, 1981, The potter’s marks of Tepe Yahya, Paleorient Vol.

Proto-Elamite, about 3000-2700 BC Cylinder seal.

This seal, of pale green volcanic tuff, is derived from earlier Uruk-style seals depicting
animals, but belongs to a stylistic tradition found not in Mesopotamia but in south-
western Iran. The heavy emphasis on the shoulders and haunches of the animals divides
the bodies into three segments which are often patterned. Some seals of this type were
impressed on tablets bearing the Proto-Elamite script which died out later in the third
millennium. On many of these Proto-Elamite seals animals adopt human postures and
these may have led to the appearance in Mesopotamia of such creatures as the bull-man
and human-headed bulls.

At the end of the fourth millennium BC, the widespread Uruk culture of Mesopotamia
disappeared. The site of Susa slipped out of the Mesopotamian cultural sphere. Instead it
shared a ceramic tradition and a writing system with the site of Anshan (modern Tal-i
Malyan), which lay about 500 kilometres (as the crow flies, and about 800 by road) to the
south-east and later became the Elamite capital. Proto-Elamite remains have been found
across a wide area of the Iranian plateau. However, between 2700-2500 BC the Proto-
Elamite sites disappear, while the Mesopotamian cities begin to reassert their presence
in the east through military action.

D. Collon, First impressions: cylinder se (London, The British Museum Press, 1987)

P.O. Harper, J. Aruz, and F. Tallon, The royal city of Susa(New York, Metropolitan
Museum, 1992)

D.J. Wiseman, Catalogue of the Western Asiat (London, 1962)


Fish sign incised on copper


Sheorajpur, upper Ganges valley, ca. 2nd

millennium B.C.,

4 kg; State Museum, Lucknow (O.37)

Typical find of Gangetic Copper Hoards.

47.7 X 39 X 2.1 cm. C. 4 kg. Early 2nd

millennium BCE.

If it is an ibex, the rebus reading is: kala

‘ibex’; rebus: kallan ‘stone mason’ (Ta.)

Wkh. merg f. ‘ibex’ (CDIAL 9885).

miṇḍāl markhor (Tor.wali) meḍho a ram, a sheep (G.)(CDIAL 10120)

meḍ iron (Ho.) meṛed-bica = iron stone ore, in contrast to bali-bica, iron sand ore


kolli ‘fish’; rebus: kol ‘working in metal’ (Ta.)

M0482, Text 1620

Svastika appears with tree (kuṭi rebus: kuṭhi ‘smelter’); svastika is metal zinc, jasta,


Crocodile with fish: kaulo mengro ‘blacksmith’ (Gypsy)

Ritual basin decorated with goatfish figures
Middle Elamite period
Susa, Iran
H. 62.8 cm; W. 92 cm
Jacques de Morgan excavations, 1904-05
Sb 19
Near Eastern Antiquities
Ritual basin decorated with goatfish figures

This limestone basin dates from the 13th or 12th century BC. It was used for ritual
libations. The decoration depicts goatfish figures around a sacred tree in reference to the
Mesopotamian god Enki/Ea. This reveals the full extent of the mutual influence of the
Iranian and Mesopotamian cosmogonies. The sacred palm, the ancestor of the Assyrian
sacred tree, reflects the importance of dates as a food source in the region.


A basin symbolizing the water cycle

This basin was broken into several pieces when it was found and has been reconstituted.
Used by priests in their ritual libations, liquid was poured out over the basin and was then
collected for re-use. There were two types of ritual libations. The first reflected the water
cycle, with water rising up from underground, filling rivers and wells. The other was an
offering of beer, wine or honey, poured out for the deity in anticipation of his meal. The
decoration of this basin suggests it was used for the first type of ritual libation. It is made
in the shape of the realm of Enki/Ea, Apsu, the body of fresh water lying beneath the
earth and feeding all the rivers and streams. Apsu is likewise represented in the bronze
model called Sit-Shamshi (Louvre, Sb2743). The fact that it was found in Susa indicates
that the Elamites adopted certain aspects of Mesopotamian mythology.

Goatfish figures around a sacred palm

The rim of the limestone basin is decorated with a single repeated motif: two goatfish
figures, or Nou, on either side of a stylized tree. These creatures were the attributes of
Enki/Ea, the Mesopotamian god of underground water, symbolizing his power to
replenish vegetation, represented by the sacred palm tree. A similar stylized tree can be
seen on the stele of King Untash-Napirisha (Sb12). The tree consists of a central trunk
with a number of offshoots curved at the tip and with three palmettes on the upper part.

The image is completely stylized, bearing only a very distant resemblance to actual date
palm trees. This symbol of plant life reflects the importance of date palms in the region.
Dates were a staple foodstuff for the local population. This type of sacred palm was the
predecessor of the sacred trees of Assyria. A relief from the palace of Assurnazirpal II in
Nimrud depicts a winged spirit with a bird's head in front of just such a sacred tree
(AO19849). The upper part of the basin is decorated with an intertwining pattern
resembling flowing water. The inside of the basin consists of a series of squared steps
leading down to the bottom of the dish. Traces of an inscription, too worn to be read,
indicate that there was originally a text along the edges of the basin.


Sit Shamshi
Model of a place of worship, known as the Sit Shamshi, or "Sunrise (ceremony)"
Middle-Elamite period, toward the 12th century BC
Acropolis mound, Susa, Iran
H. 60 cm; W. 40 cm
Excavations led by Jacques de Morgan, 1904-5
Sb 2743
Near Eastern Antiquities

Sit Shamshi

This large piece of bronze shows a religious ceremony. In the center are two men in ritual
nudity surrounded by religious furnishings - vases for libations, perhaps bread for
offerings, steles - in a stylized urban landscape: a multi-tiered tower, a temple on a
terrace, a sacred wood. In the Middle-Elamite period (15th-12th century BC), Elamite
craftsmen acquired new metallurgical techniques for the execution of large monuments,
statues and reliefs.


A ceremony

Two nude figures squat on the bronze slab, one knee bent to the ground. One of the
figures holds out open hands to his companion who prepares to pour the contents of a
lipped vase onto them. The scene takes place in a stylized urban landscape, with
reduced-scale architectural features: a tiered tower or ziggurat flanked with pillars, a
temple on a high terrace. There is also a large jar resembling the ceramic pithoi
decorated with rope motifs that were used to store water and liquid foodstuffs. An arched
stele stands by some rectangular basins. Rows of dots in relief may represent solid

foodstuffs on altars, and jagged sticks represent trees. The men's bodies are delicately
modeled, their faces clean-shaven, and their shaved heads speckled with the shadow of
the hair. Their facial expression is serene, their eyes open, the hint of a smile on their
lips. An inscription tells us the name of the piece's royal dedicator and its meaning in part:
"I Shilhak-Inshushinak, son of Shutruk-Nahhunte, beloved servant of Inshushinak, king of
Anshan and Susa [...], I made a bronze sunrise."

Chogha Zambil: a religious capital

The context of this work found on the Susa acropolis is unclear. It may have been reused
in the masonry of a tomb, or associated with a funerary sanctuary. It appears to be
related to Elamite practices that were brought to light by excavations at Chogha Zambil.
This site houses the remains of a secondary capital founded by the Untash-Napirisha
dynasty in the 14th century BC, some ten kilometers east of Susa (toward the rising sun).
The sacred complex, including a ziggurat and temples enclosed within a precinct,
featured elements on the esplanade, rows of pillars and altars. A "funerary palace," with
vaulted tombs, has also been found there.

The royal art of the Middle-Elamite period

Shilhak-Inshushinak was one of the most brilliant sovereigns of the dynasty founded by
Shutruk-Nahhunte in the early 12th century BC. Numerous foundation bricks attest to his
policy of construction. He built many monuments in honor of the great god of Susa,
Inshushinak. The artists of Susa in the Middle-Elamite period were particularly skilled in
making large bronze pieces. Other than the Sit Shamshi, which illustrates the complex
technique of casting separate elements joined together with rivets, the excavations at
Susa have produced one of the largest bronze statues of Antiquity: dating from the 14th
century BC, the effigy of "Napirasu, wife of Untash-Napirisha," the head of which is
missing, is 1.29 m high and weighs 1,750 kg. It was made using the solid-core casting
method. Other bronze monuments underscore the mastery of the Susa metallurgists: for

example, an altar table surrounded by snakes borne by divinities holding vases with
gushing waters, and a relief depicting a procession of warriors set above a anel
decorated with engravings of birds pecking under trees. These works, today mutilated,
are technical feats. They prove, in their use of large quantities of metal, that the Susians
had access to the principal copper mines situated in Oman and eastern Anatolia. This
shows that Susa was located at the heart of a network of circulating goods and long-
distance exchange.


taks.a, tvas.t.r., r.bhu

In the Rigveda, the lexeme is used to define composition or fashioning.

apu_rvya_ purustamanyasmai mahe vi_ra_ya tavase tura_ya; virips'ane vajrin.e
s'antama_ni vaca_msya_sa_ sthavira_ya (RV. VI.32.1): a seer has composed
unprecedented, comprehensive and gratifying praises for the mighty Indra. agnaye
brahma r.bhavastataks.uh (RV. X.80.7):the fashioning of hymns for agni is done by the
r.bhus. Avestan tradition, Ahur Mazda_ is conceived as a carpenter who fashions the
earth from wood and who fashions bodies and souls: ga_us'-tas'a_: da_idi mo_i ya_ gam
ta'so_ apas ca urvaras ca: 'grant me thou -- who has created Mother Earth and the
waters and the plants' (Yasna 51.7); hyat na_ mazda_, paourvi_m ga_eoasca tas'o_
dae_nasca_: 'since for us, O Mazda, from the beginning Thou didst create Bodies and
also Souls' (Yasna 31.11)(The Divine Songs of Zarathushtra, pp. 682-3, pp. 210-1). gaus
= ga_v (Skt. gau). The phrase mahigauh in RV refers to the earth. Tas'a is from the root
tas' (Skt. taks.) = to create, to fashion; to hew, to cut. The cognate lexemes are: technos
(Greco-Roman), tas'yati (Lith.)

The gavam-ayanam is a sattra related to the turning of the earth which is related to the
solstice or the apparent shift of sun's motion. Maha_vrata day is the last day but one of

the year; it was, as Tilak observed, a link between the dying and the coming year. (Tilak,
Arctic Home in the Vedas, p. 122).

gavam-ayanam is a sattra similar to a_ditya_na_m-ayanam and an:gi_rasa_m-ayanam.

Aitareya Bra_hman.a (iv,17) notes: "They hold the gava_m-ayanam, that is, the
sacrificial session called the 'cows' walk'. The cows are the a_dityas (Gods of the
months). By holding the session called 'the cows' walk', they also hold the a_ditya_na_m-
ayanam (the walk of the a_dityas)." The origin of the sattra is described as follows (Dr.
Haug's trans. Vol. II, p. 207): "The cows being desirous of obtaining hoofs and horns held
(once) a sacrificial session. In the tenth month (of their sacrifice) they obtained hoofs and
horns. They said, we have obtained fulfillment of that wish, for which we underwent the
initiation into the sacrificial rites. Let us rise (the sacrifice being finished). Those that rose
are those who have horns. Of those who, however, sat (continued the session), saying
'Let us finish the year', the horns went off on account of their distrust. It is they who are
hornless (tu_para_h). They (continuing their sacrificial session) produced vigour
(u_rjam). Thence after (having been sacrificing for twelve months and) having secured all
the seasons, they rose (again) at the end, for they had produced vigour (to reproduce
horns, hoofs when decaying. Thus the cows made themselves beloved by all (the whole
world), and are beautified (decorated) by all."

The sememe taks. refers to the technical skill of fashioning metallic objects. r.bhus do
great deeds and have dexterous hands (svapasah suhasta_h) and frame a chariot for the
as'wins (RV.1.111.1; X.39.4), fashion the vigorous horses for Indra (RV. 1.20.2; 1.111.1;
III.60.2) and divide the single camasa into four (RV. I.161.2). The r.bhus fabricate the
ratha (chariot)(RV. 1.111.1; IV.33.8), fashion agni for manu's sacrifice: dya_tva_
yamagnim pr.thive_ janis.t.a_ma_pastvas.t.a_ mr.gavo yam sahobhih, i_d.enyam
prathamam ma_taris'va_ deva_stataks.urmanave yajatram (RV. X.46.) ye as'vina_ ye
pirata_ ya u_ti_ dhenum tataks.urr.bhavo ye as'va_; ye amsatra_ ya r.dhagrodasi_ ye
vibhvo narah svapatya_ni cakruh (RV. IV.34.9): r.bhus fashioned the chariots for as'vins,
renovated their parents, restored the cow, fabricated the horses, made armor (am.satra)
for the gods, separated earth and heaven and accomplished the acts of good results.
Sa_yan.a explains the equivalence of tvaks. and taks. in re: RV. I.100.15: taks.u_
tvaks.u_ tanu_karan.e (to accomplish by reducing, scraping, cutting) in the context of the
skills of carpentry, using tools. Taks.a is a professional like the bhis.ak (physician) and
priest (Brahman): taks.a_ rutam bhis.agabrahma_ sunvantam icchat
i_ndra_yendo pari srava (RV. IX.112.1) The major wood-work included cutting of the
sacrificial stake (yu_pa), fastening of the wooden ring (cas.a_la) on its top and fashioning
of the wooden vessels: yu_pa vraska_ uta ye yu_pava_ha_s'cas.a_lam ye
as'vayu_pa_ya taks.ati; ye ca_rvate pacanam sambharantyuto tes.a_mabhigu_rtirna
invatu (RV. I.62.6) Tvas.t.r. carved the vajra, the weapon wielded by Indra to severe the
limbs of vr.ttra (RV. 1.32.2; 52.7; 61.6; 121.3; X.48.3; 99.1); it is a_yasam (metallic)(RV.
X.48.3) atha tvas.t.a_ te maha ugra vajram vavr.tacchata_s'rim
nika_mamaraman.asam yena navantamahi sam (RV. VI.17.10): fierce
Indra, Tvas.t.r. constructed for thee, the mighty one, the thousand-edged, the hundred-
angled thunderbolt, wherewith thou hast crushed the ambitious audacious loud-shouting
ahi = vr.ttra. RV. I.85.9: tvas.t.a_ yadvajram sukr.tam hiran.yayam
svapa_ avartayat: refers to the shaping of the thunderbolt, vajra, by skilful (svapa_ =
s'obhanakarma_); Sa_yan.a explains sukr.tam as samyak nis.pa_ditam or well made;
hiran.yayam as suvarnamayam or golden; as aneka_bhir dha_ra_bhir
yuktam or 'of numerous edges'. Tvas.t.r. augments the strength of Indra by fashioning a
vajra of overpowering vigour: tvas.t.a_ citte yujyam va_vr.dhe s'avastataks.a
vajramabhibh_tyojasam (RV. I.52.7)

The transition from the lithic age to the bronze age is apparent from the description of
adze or va_s'i as either metallic or made of stone and used for shaping wooden vessels:
va_s'i_bhih as'manmayi_bhih (RV. X.101.10) Rigveda refers to smelter of metals
(dhma_ta_: RV. V.9.5) and the smith (karma_ra: RV.X.72.2)[Schrader notes that the
names of smiths in IE languages are often derived from the old Indo-Germanic names for

stone of which the smiths' tools were originally made; e.g. hamarr (OHG); akmo_n (=
anvil)(Gk.); as'man (=hammer, anvil, oven)(Skt.)

Tvas.t.r. is shown sharpening his metallic axe while fabricating the camasa bowl used for
soma (apparently, the axe is used to fashion the bowl): s'isi_te nu_nam paras'um
sva_yasam (RV. X.53.9) The camasa created by Tvas.t.r. is later divided into four parts
by his disciples, the r.bhus: uta tyam camasam navam tvas.t.urdevasya (RV.
I.20.6); akarta caturah punah (RV. IV.33.5-6)[Commenting on RV. I.20.6, Sa_yan.a says
that r.bhus are the disciples of Tvas.t.r.: tvas.t.uh s'is.ya_r.bhavah. Elsewhere, Sa_yan.a
refers to Tvas.t.r. as the preceptor of the r.bhus: r.havah tvas.t.a_ yus.madguruh (RV. IV.

The reference to ratha is: ratham suvr.tam (RV. 1.111.1). Sa_yan.a interprets this as
well-built or good-wheeled: s'obhanavartanam sucakram va_ The carpenters' tools are:
svadhiti which is used to cut and trim the wooden post: ya_nvo naro devayanto
nimimyurvanaspate sva_dhitirva_ tataks.a (RV. III.8.6) va_s'i_ and paras'u are also
creations of divine artificers: tvas.t.r. and r.bhus (RV. I.110.5; X.53.9-10) Vis.n.u prepares
the womb and Tvas.t.r. adorns the forms: vis.nuryonim kalpayatu tvas.t.a_ ru_pa_n.i
pim.s'atu (RV. X.184.1) svadhiti is used to create a well-made form (tvas.t.reva ru_pam
sukr.tam svadhityaina_:AV. XII.3.33) Atharva Veda refers to the use of va_s'i_ by yat tva_ s'ikvah para_vadi_t taks.a_ hastena va_sya_ (AV.X.6.3) RV I.32.5
alludes that Indra strikes Vr.ttra with vajra, as the kulis'a (=axe) fells a tree-trunk:
ahanvr.tramk vr.trataram vyamsamindro vajren.a mahata_ vadhena; skandha_msi_va
kulis'ena_ hih s'yata upapr.kpr.thivya_h. A cognate Indian lexeme is:
kulha_d.i_ (a metallic blade with a cutting edge and a handle). r.bhu, vibhu, va_ja
constitute a trinity; the r.bhus are saudhanvana_h (sons of Sudhanvan). The r.bhus are
mortals who attained immortality by dint of their workmanship: marta_sah santo
amr.tatvama_nas'uh (RV. I.110.4) Commenting on RV. I. 20.1, Sa_yan.a observes that
r.bhus were pious men who through penance obtained deification: manus.yah
santastapasa_ devatvam pra_ptah. Aitareya Bra_hman.a describes them as men who by
austerity (tapas) obtained a right to partake of soma among gods (AB. III.30.2) ya_bhih
s'aci_bhis'camasa_m apis'ata yaya_ dhiya_ ga_marin.i_ta carman.ah; yena hari_
manasa_ nirataks.ata tena devatvamr.bhavah sama_nas'a (RV. III.60.2): With those
faculties by which you have fashioned the drinking bowl; with what intelligence wherewith
you have covered the (dead) cow with skin, -- with what will by which you have fabricated
two horses (of Indra); with those (means) r.bhus, you have attained divinity. Macdonell
derives the term r.bhu from the root rabh, to grasp and explains it as handy or dexterous
and identifies it with German elbe and English elf. (opcit., p. 133)

tvas.t.r., soma

Tvas.t.r. is the master of all forms and shaper of all animals (tvas.t.a_ ru_pa_n.i hi
prabhuh pas'u_nvis'va_ntsama_naje)(RV I.188.9) He is the fashioner of the quick-
moving horse: tvas.t.urva_ja_yata a_s'uras'vah (TS. V.I.11.3; KS. XLVI.2) The lexeme
also means a fashioner or artificer (A.A.Macdonell, Vedic Mythology, p.117) Indra drinks
soma in the house of Tvas.t.r. : tvas.t.ugr.hi apibat somamindrah (RV. IV.18.3) Tvas.t.r. is
referred to as, beautiful-handed; sugabhastim beautiful armed and r.bhvam
shining or glorious (RV. VI.49.9) sukr.tsupa_n.ih svavau r.ta_va_ devastva.s.t.a_vase
ta_ni no dha_t (RV. III.54.12): May the divine Tvas.t.r., the able artificer, the dexterous
handed, the possessor of wealth, the observer of truth,bestow upon us those things
(which are necessary) for our preservation. ugrastura_va_lamibhu_tyoja_yatha_vas'am
tanvamcakra evah; tvas.t.a_ramindro janus.a_bhibhu_ya_manus.ya_
somamapibaccamu_s.u (RV. III.48.4): fierce, rapid in assault, of overpowering strength,
he made his form obedient to his will; having overcome Tvas.t.r by his innate (vigour),
and carried off the soma, he drank it (or deposited) in the ladles. These and other
references lead Macdonell to surmise that Indra's father whom he slays in order to obtain
the soma, is Tvas.t.r. (opcit., p. 57) [cf. Chaturvedi, P.S., 1969, Technology in Vedic
Literature, Delhi, Books and Books]

Maritime, riverine rigvedic culture

The maritime/riverine nature of the Sarasvati Sindhu civilization is borne out by the
archaeological finds of contacts with Sumeria, particularly in the trade of copper/bronze
weapons exported from ancient India.

Rigveda has a number of allusions to the use of boats.

The vedic people had used ships to cross oceans: anarambhan.e... agrabhan.e
samudre... s’ata_ritram na_vam... (RV. I.116.5; cf. VS. 21.7) referring to as’vins who
rescued bhujyu, sinking in mid-ocean using a ship with a hundred oars (na_vam-
aritraparani_m). There is overwhelming evidence of maritime trade by the archaeological
discoveries of the so-called Harappan civilization, which can now be re-christened:
Sarasvati-Sindhu civilization. Some beads were reported to have been exported to Egypt
from this valley (Early Indus Civilization, p. 149); Sumerians had acted as intermediaries
for this trade (L. Wooley , The Sumerians, pp. 46-47; cf. Ur Excavations, vol. II, pp. 390-
396).which extended to Anatolia and the Mediterranean.

Boats drown in the river Sarasvati when the river was in spate (RV. 6,61,3); Devi Aditi
comes in a boat for the reciters to board (RV. 10,63,10); Soma, the king of the
waterways, who covers the universe as a cloth, has boarded the boat of sacrifice; the
su_rya descends the heavens on a boat (RV. 1,50,4; 5,45,10; 7,63,4; 10,88,16,17).
Sudasa built an easily pliable boat to cross the Purus.n.i river (RV. 7,18,5); Agni is a boat
which carries the sacrificers over the difficult path of sacrifice (RV. 1,9,7, 7-8: 5,4,9); Agni
is the boat of the reciters in troubled times (RV. 3,29,1), to ford enemy lines (RV. 3,24,1);
Agni is the carrier-boat of oblations to the gods (RV. 1,128,6); Agni is the boat of all
wishes (RV. 3,11,3); Indra was like a ferry-boat (RV. 8,16,11); Indra protected the boats
(RV. 1,80,8); Indra is invoked to carry the reciters over the ocean of misfortune (RV.
3,32,14); Indra takes the reciters in his boat across the ocean (RV. 8,16,11); Indra saved
the ship-wrecked Naryam, Turvasu, Yadu, Turviti and Vayya (RV. 1,54,6); Indra-Varun.a
sail on the boat on the celestial ocean (RV. 7,88,3);’s golden boat moves on the
sky (RV. 6,58,3) Varun.a’s boat will carry the reciter on to the mid-ocean of the sky (RV.

7,88,3); Maruta helped the reciters to cross the ocean of war in a boat (RV. 5,54,4);
Maruta was compared to a tempestuous ocean in which had sunk a laden ship (RV.
5,59,2); there are references to: house boat (RV. 1,40,12); long boat (RV. 1,122,15);
well-furnished boat with oars (RV. 10,101,2); boats carrying foodgrains for overseas
markets (RV. 1,47,6; 7,32,20; 7,63,4); boats fit to cross the ocean with oars (RV. 1,40,7);
ocean-trading boats (RV. 1,50,2). [See also Swami Sankarananda, Hindu States of
Sumeria, Calcutta, K.L.Mukhapadhyay, 1962 for the story of Bhujyu who was the son of a
king named Tugra (a worshipper of As’vina) whose boat was sunk in the mid-ocean, p.

Riches are obtained from the samudra (i.e. by maritime trade) (RV. 1,47,6); there were
two winds on the ocean, one to put the boat to the seas and the other to bring it to shore
(RV. 10,137,2).

"Gordon Childe refers to the 'relatively large amount of social labour' expended in the
extraction and distribution of copper and tin', the possession of which, in the form of
bronze weaponry, 'consolidated the positions of war-chiefs and conquering aristocracies'
(Childe 1941: 133)... With the publication of J.D. Muhly's monumental Copper and Tin in
1973 (Muhly 1973: 155-535; cf. 1976: 77-136) an enormous amount of data on copper
previously scattered throughout the scholarly literature became easily accessible...
cuneiform texts consistently distinguish refined (urudu-luh-ha) [cf. loha = red, later metal
(Skt.)] from unrefined copper (urudu) strongly suggests that it was matte (impure mixture
of copper and copper sulphide) and not refined copper that was often imported into the
country. Old Assyrian texts concerned with the import of copper from Anatolia
distinguishurudu from urudu-sig, the latter term appearing when written phonetically
asdammuqum, 'fine, good' (CAD D: 180, s.v. dummuqu), and this suggests that it is not
just 'fine quality' but actually 'refined' copper that is in question... TIN. In antiquity tin
(Sum. nagga/[AN.NA], Akk. annaku) was important, not in its own right, but as an
additive to copper in the production of the alloy bronze (Sum. sabar, Akk.siparru)
(Joannes 1993: 97-8)... In some cases, ancient recipes call for a ratio of tin to copper as
high as 1: 6 or 16.6 per cent, while other texts speak of a 1:8 ratio or 12.5 per cent
(Joannes 1993: 104)... 'there is little or no tin bronze' in Western Asia before c. 3000 B.C.
(Muhly 1977: 76; cf. Muhly 1983:9). The presence of at least four tin-bronzes in the Early
Dynastic I period... Y-Cemetery at Kish signals the first appearance of tin-bronze in
southern Mesopotamia... arsenical copper continued in use at sites like Tepe Gawra,
Fara, Kheit Qasim and Ur (Muhly 1993: 129). By the time of the Royal Cemetery at Ur
(Early Dynastic IIIa), according to M.Muller-Karpe, 'tin-bronze had become the dominant
alloy' (Muller-Karpe 1991: 111) in Southern Mesopotamia... Gudea of Lagash says he
received tin from Meluhha... and in the Old Babylonian period it was imported to Mari
from Elam...

Abhidha_na Cinta_man.i of Hemachandra states thatmleccha and mleccha-mukha are

two of the twelve names forcopper: ta_mram (IV.105-6: ta_mram mlecchamukham
s'ulvam rakt tam dvas.t.amudumbaram; mlecchas'a_varabheda_khyam markata_syam
kani_yasam; brahmavarddhanam varis.t.ham si_santu si_sapatrakam). Theraga_tha_ in
Pali refers to a banner which was dyed the colour of copper:milakkhurajanam (The Thera
andTheriga_tha_, PTS, verse 965: milakkhurajanam rattam garahanta_ sakam dhajam;
tithiya_nam dhajam keci dha_ressanty avada_takam; K.R.Norman, tr., Theraga_tha_:
Finding fault with their own banner which is dyed the colour of copper, some will wear the
white banner of sectarians).[cf. Asko and Simo Parpola, On the relationship of the
Sumerian Toponym Meluhha and Sanskrit Mleccha, Studia Orientalia, vol. 46, 1975, pp.

Copper-smelting had to occur on the outskirts of a village. Hence, the semantic

equivalence of milakkha as copper.

Mleccha in Pali is milakkha or milakkhu to describe those who dwell on the outskirts of a
village. (Shendge, Malati, 1977, The civilized demons: the Harappans in
Rigveda, Rigveda, Abhinav Publications). A milakkhu is disconnected from va_c and
does not speak Vedic; he spoke Prakrt. " na a_rya_ mlecchanti bha_s.a_bhir ma_yaya_

na caranty uta:aryas do not speak with crude dialects like mlecchas, nor do they behave
with duplicity (MBh. 2.53.8). a dear friend of Vidura who was a professional excavator is
sent by Vidura to help the Pa_n.d.avas in confinement; this friend of Vidura has a
conversation with Yudhisthira, the eldest Pa_n.d.ava: ‘The Pandavas are leaders of the
people, and they are to be burned to death with their mother.’ This, Pa_rtha
(Yudhis.t.ira), is the determined plan of Dhr.tara_s.t.ra’s son, as I have heard it. When
you were leaving the city, Vidura spoke a few words to you in the dialect of the mlecchas,
and you replied to him, ‘So be it’. I say this to gain your trust.(MBh. 1.135.4-6). This
passage shows that there were two Aryans distinguished by language and ethnicity,
Yudhis.t.ra and Vidura. Both are aryas, who could speak mlecchas’ language;
Dhr.tara_s.t.ra and his people are NOT aryas only because of their behaviour.

Melakkha, island-dwellers

According to the great epic, Mlecchas lived on islands: (Bhima) arranged for all the
mleccha kings, who dwell on the ocean islands, to bring varieties of gems, sandalwood,
aloe, garments, and incomparable jewels and pearls, gold, silver, diamonds, and
extremely valuable coral… great wealth." (MBh. 2.27.25-26).

A series of articles and counters had appeared in the Journal of the Economic and social
history of the Orient, Vol.XXI, Pt.II, Elizabeth C.L. During Caspers and A. Govindankutty
countering R.Thapar's dravidian hypothesis for the locations of Meluhha, Dilmun and
Makan; Thapar's A Possible identification of Meluhha, Dilmun, and Makan appeared in
the journal Vol. XVIII, Part I locating these on India's west coast. Bh. Krishnamurthy
defended Thapar on linguistic grounds in Vol. XXVI, Pt. II: *mel-u-kku =3D highland,
west; *teLmaN (=3D pure earth) ~ dilmun; *makant =3D male child (Skt. vi_ra =3D male
offspring. [cf. K. Karttunen (1989). India in Early Greek Literature. Helsinki, Finnish
Oriental Society. Studia Orientalia. Vol. 65. 293 pages. ISBN 951-9380-10-8, pp. 11 ff et
passim. Asko Parpola (1975a). Isolation and tentative interpretation of a toponym in the
Harappan inscriptions. Le dechiffrement des ecritures et des langues.Colloque du

XXXIXe congres des orientalistes, Paris Juillet 1973. Paris, Le dechiffrement des
ecritures et des langues. Colloque du XXXIXe congres des orientalistes, Paris Juillet
1973. 121-143 and Asko Parpola (1975b). "India's Name in Early Foreign Sources." Sri
Venkateswara University Oriental Journal, Tirupati, 18: 9-19.]

Substrate language of Sumer and Indian lexemes

'One of the most significant and impressive archaeological achievements of the twentieth
century centers around the discovery of the ancient Indus civilization which probably
flourished from about 2500 to 1500 B.C., and extended over a vast territory from the
present Pakistan-Iran border to the foot of the Himalayas and to the Gulf of Cambay...
That there was considerable commercial trade between Sumer and Indus land is proved
beyond reasonable doubt by some thirty Indus seals which have actually been excavated
in Sumer-- and no doubt hundreds more are still lying buried in the Sumerian ruins-- and
which must have been brought there in one way or another from their land of origin.
There is, therefore, good reason to conclude that the Sumerians had known the name of
the Indus land as well as some of its more imortant featues and characteristics, and that
some of the innumerable Sumerian texts might turn out to be highly informative in this
respect... According to a long-known Sumerian 'Flood'-story, Dilmun, the land to which
Ziusudra, the Sumerian Noah, was transported to live as an immortal among the gods, is
'the place where the sun rises', and was therefore located somewhere to the east of
Sumer. In another Sumerian text, Dilmun is described as a blessed, prosperous land
dotted with 'great dwellings', to which the countries of the entire civilized world known to
the Sumerians, brought their goods and wares... The only rich, important land east of
Sumer which could be the source of ivory, was that of the ancient Indus civilization,
hence it seems not unreasonable to infer that the latter must be identical with Dilmun...
there are two faces of the Indus civilization which are especially significant for its
identification with Dilmun: the cult of a water deity and sea-plowing ships... the god most
intimately related to Dilmun is Enki, the Sumerian Poseidon, the great Sumerian water
god in charge of seas and rivers. Thus we find a Sumerian Dilmun-myth which tells the
following story: Dilmun, a land described as 'pure', 'clean', and 'bright', a land which
knows neither sickness nor death, had been lacking originally in fresh, life-giving water.
The tutelary goddess of Dilmun, Ninsikilla by name, therefore pleaded with Enki, who is
both her husband and father, and the latter orders the sun-god Utu to fill Dilmun with
sweet water brought up from the earth's water-sources; Dilmun is thus turned into a
divine garden green with grain-yielding fields and acres. In this paradise of the gods eight
plants are made to sprout by Ninhursag, the great mother goddess of the Sumerians,
perhaps more originally Mother Earth... because Enki wanted to taste them, his
messenger, the two-faced god Isimud, plucks these plants one by one and gives them to
his master who proceeds to eat them each in turn. Whereupon the angered Ninhursag
pronounces the curse of death against Enki and vanishes from among the gods. Enki's
health at once begins to fail and eight of his organs become sick. As Enki sinks fast, the
great gods sit in the dust, seemingly unable to cope with the situation. Whereupon the fox
comes to the rescue and after being promised a reward, he succeeds by some ruse in
having the mother goddess return to the gods and heal the dying water god. She seats
him by her vulva and after inquiring which eight organs of his body ache, she brings into
existence eight corresponding deities-- one of these is Enshag, the Lord of Dilmun-- and
Enki is brought back to life and health...

'The land Dilmun is holy, Holy Sumer--present it to him, The land Dilmun is holy, The land
Dilmun is holy, the land Dilmun is pure, The land Dilmun is clean, the land Dilmun is
holy... In Dilmun the raven utters no cry, The wild hen utters not the cry of the wild hen,
The lion kills not... He (the god Enki) cleaned and purified the land Dilmun, Placed the
goddess Ninsikilla in charge of it. '

In fact the very name of the goddess whom Enki placed in charge of Dilmun is a
Sumerian compound word whose literal meaning is 'the pure queen'... the Indus
civilization depended largely on water-borne trade, coastal and riverine... one of the
Sumerian rulers by the name of Ur-Nanshe, who lived as early as about 2400 B.C.,
speaks of timber-carrying Dilmun boats arriving at his city, Lagash... In the myth 'Enki
and the World Order' mentioned earlier, Enki boasts of the moored Dilmun boats. Ivory-
bearing boats from Dilmun to Ur have already been mentioned; according to the texts
these also carried timber, gold, copper, and lapis lazuli. No wonder that in the 'Paradise'
myth cited above, Dilmun is described as 'dockyard-house of the (inhabited) land.'...the
pre-Indus settlements excavated at Harappa, Kot Diji, or Amri, which could be regarded
as the forerunner of the Indus cities and towns with their carefully planned buildings and
streets, their water cult and purification rites, their well-developed pictographic script, and
their bustling water-borne trade...

The names of the two great Mesopotamian rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates,
or idiglat and buranun as they read in the cuneiform texts, are Ubaidian-- not Sumerian--
words. So, too, are the names of the most important centers of 'Sumer':Eridu, Ur, Larsa,
Isin, Adab, Kullab, Lagash, Nippur, and Kish. In fact the word Dilmun itself may, like the
word buranun for the Euphrates, be Ubaidian. More important still, such culturally
significant words
as engar (farmer), udul(herdsman), shupeshdak (fisherman), api_n (plow), apsin (furro
w), nimbar (palm), sulumb (date), tibira (metal worker),
simug (smith), nangar (carpenter), addub (basket
maker), ishbar (weaver), ashgab (leather worker), pahar (potter),shidim (mason), and
perhaps even damgar (merchant), are probably all Ubaidian rathern than Sumerian, as
has been usually assumed... Another crucial word which may turn out to be Ubaidian,
is Ea, one of the two names by which the Mesopotamian water god is known in the
cuneiform texts, the other being Enki... while the latter is a typical Sumerian compound
with the meaning 'Lord of the Earth', Ea is a word whose linguistic affiliations are still
uncertain... The Assyrian king Tukulti-Ninurta uses in his titles the expression 'king of
Dilmun and Meluhha' ... There is another king by the name of Hundaru in whose days
booty taken from Dilmun consisted of objects made of copper and bronze, sticks of
precious wood, and large quantities of kohl, used as an eye-paint. A crew of soldiers is
sent from Dilmun to Babylon to help King Sennacherib raze that city to the ground, and

they bring with them bronze spades and spikes which are described as characteristic
products of


from the myth 'Enki and the World Order', the god Enki boasts of the moored Dilmun

The lands of Magan and Dilmun

Looked up at me, Enki,
Moored (?) the Dilmun-boat to the ground (?),
Loaded the Magan-boat sky high.

(Samuel N. Kramer, The Indus Civilization and Dilmun: The Sumerian Paradise
Land, Expedition, Vol. 6, No. 3, 1964, pp. 44-52).

Smiths (Sum. simug, Akk. nappa_hum), responsible for (s)melting and casting, were
distinguished from metalworkers (Sum. tibira, Akk. gurgurrum) who worked metal and
created objects. These, on the other hand, were distinctly different from jewellers
(Sum. zadim) and goldsmiths (Sum. ku-dim/dim, Akk. kutimmum)... Given the large
number of metal tools, weapons and vessels recovered from sites in southern
Mesopotamia, there is, as with ceramics, a frustrating lack of excavated workshop
facilities.(D.T.Potts, Mesopotamian Civilization: The Material Foundations, 1997, Ithaca,
Cornell University Press).

"The Avesta kows the beginning or source of the Aryans as Airyana Vaejo (Pahlavi Iran-
Vej). The Avestan Vaejo corresponds to the Sanskrit bi_j meaning 'beginning or source'.
The Avesta describes it as a place of extreme cold that became over-crowded (Vend. I.
3-4; II. 8-18). ... Whether the Mitannian kings (1475-1280 B.C.) on the upper Euphrates
were a direct offshoot of the Aryans or not there names are certainly Aryan, for example
Saussatar, Artatama, Sutarna, Tusratta and Mattiuaza (H. Oldenburg: in Journal of the

Royal Asiatic Society, 1909, p. 1094-1109)... Mattiuaza, in his treaty with the Hittite king
Aubbiluliuma signed in 1380 B.C. at Boghazkoy, invokes not only Babylonian gods to
witness the treaties, but Mitra, Varun.a, Indra, and Na_satya in the form in which they
appear in the Rigveda (S. Konow: Aryan gods of the Mitani people, 1921, pp. 4-5). They
occur in the treaty as ila_ni Mi-it-ra-as-si-il ila_ni A-ru-na-as-si-il In-da-ra ila_ni Na-sa-at-
ti-ya-an-na. Since the form for Na_satya is quite different in the Avestan language
(Naonhaithya) it is argued that the Mitannian did not speak Iranian but Indo-Aryan
(E.Meyer: Sitzungsberichte der K. Preuss. Akad. der Wissen, 1908, I, p. 14f.)... The
name for 'fire' in the Persian
Avesta is quite different, being
atar, and this does not occur in
the Indian Veda except in the
Vedic proper name Atharvan,
which corresponds to the
Avestan name of the fire priest.
Agni, as a messenger between
gods and man, was known to
the Vedas as Nara_-s'amsa.
This corresponds with the
Avestan messenger of
Ahura, Nairyo_-sangha. (R.A.
Jairazbhoy, 1995, Foreign
Influence in Ancient Indo-
Pakistan, Karachi, Sind Book
House). [Note the use of the
word san:ga in the Sumerian
substrate language to connote a
priest. san:ghvi_ (G.) means a

priest leading the pilgrims.]

Bronze in Mohenjodaro

Copper-bronze artefacts from Mohenjodaro exhibited at the

Mohenjodaro museum (Dr. Abdul Jabbar Junejo and Mohammad
Qasim Bughio, 1988, Cultural Heritage of Sind, International
Arabi Conference, University of Sind, Hyderabad, Sindhi Adabi Board); out of 13
artefacts analysed. 6 were found to contain between 4.51% to 13.21% tin; the artefacts
were: bronze rod, bronze button, bronze chisel, bronze slab, bronze chisel and bronze

Evidence of contact between Sarasvati Sindhu and Mesopotamian civilizations:

Cylinder seal showing running

goats turning their heads,
appearing in perpetual
motion; ca. 2800 B.C. (Uruk
IV) (M.E.L.Mallowan,
1965, Early Metopotamia and
Iran, London, Thames and
Hudson); the antelope with its
head turned backward is a
typical motif on the seals of the Sarasvati Sindhu civilization.

Dark grey steatite bowl carved in relief. Zebu or brahmani bull is shown with its hump
back; a male figure with long hair and wearing akilt grasps two sinuous objects,
representing running water, which flows in a continuous stream. Around the bowl,
another similar male figure stands between two lionesses with their head turned back
towards him; he grasps a serpent in each hand. A further scene (not shown) represents a
prostrate bull which is being attacked by a vulture and a lion.

The zebu is reminiscent of Sarasvati Sindhu seals. The stone used, steatite, is familiar in
Baluchistan and a number of vessels at the Royal Cemetery at Ur were made out of this

The bowl dates from c. 2700-2500 B.C. and the motif shown on it resembles that on a
fragment of a green stone vase from one of the Sin Temples at Tell Asmar of almost the
same date.

Horse in Sarasvati Sindhu Civilization

Tepe Hissar, ca. 2000 B.C.: spears with

medial ribs and ridge-stopped tangs

(Mallowan, Ill. 133) Tepe Hissar yielded

gold, variegated jewellery, copper and

silver vessels, many varieties of beads,

among them much lapis lazuli; perhaps,

Hissar was an entrepot in trade with

taking the stone from the mines of


Spears with medial ribs have parallels

from Carchemish and Ugarit in north
Syria dated a century before 2000 B.C.
Such spears do not appear to occur in
Mohenjodaro or other Harappan sites.

Tepe Hissar; from the 'Burnt Building' in level

IIIB, ca. 2000 B.C. after Schmidt; combination of the basic forms of an axe and adze
produced the axe-adze. Similar instrument was found in the reign of Shalmaneser III, ca.
850 B.C. Typical trough-sprouted vessels found at Tepe Hissar are similar to the types
used in the karum at Kultepe in Cappadocia. Use of lead vessels is also paralleled in
Kultepe, ca. 1900 B.C. [Kultepe is the place in Anatolia, with tin mines, see Yener's

Hissar III B dated a little before 2000 B.C. yielded the skull of a horse; the horse was
domesticated at Shah Tepe much earlier, thus long anticipating the first appearance of it
at Boghazkoy in Central Asia Minor in the early Hittite period. (Mallowan, p. 123).
MEL Mallowan (1965, Early Mesopotamia and Iran, London, Thames and Hudson, p.
123) notes:

" Tepe Hissar IIIB a little before 2000 B.C... in Hissar IIIB the skull of a horse was
found and furthermore the horse is alleged to have been domesticated at Shah Tepe
much earlier still, thus long anticipating the first appearance of it at Boghazkoy in Central
Asia Minor in the early Hittite period...."

Tepe Hissar is a key archaeological site with vivid links to the Sarasvati Sindhu
civilization with many seals, motifs, artefacts...

A.K.Sharma, The Harappan horse was buried under the dunes of..., in Puratattva,
Bulletin of the Indian Archaeological Society, No. 23, 1992-93, pp. 30-34]: "At Surkotada
the bones of the true horse (equus caballus Linn.) identified are from Period IA, IB and
IC. (radiocarbon dates: 2315 B.C., 1940 B.C. and 1790 B.C respectively). With the
correction factors, the dates fall between 2400 B.C. and 1700 B.C... In 1938 Mackay
(FEM, Vol. I, p. 289) had remarked on the discovery of a clay model of horse from
Mohenjodaro. 'I personally take it to represent horse. I do not think we need be
particularly surprised if it should be proved that the horse existed thus early at Mohenjo-
daro'. About this terracotta figurine Wheeler wrote: (Indus Civilization, Cambridge, 1968,
p. 92): 'One terracotta from a late level of Mohenjodaro seems to represent a horse,
reminding us that the jaw bone of a horse is also recorded from the same time, and that
the horse was known at considerably early period in northern Baluchistan... It is likely
enough that camel, horse and ass were in fact all familiar feature of the Indus
caravans.'... appearance of true horse from the neolithic sites of Koldihwa and Mahagara
in Uttar Pradesh..." (Note: camel is also not depicted on Harappan inscriptions) The
identification by Sharma has been endorsed by Prof. Sandor Bokonyi, Director of the
Archaeological Institute, Budapest, Hungary (an archaeozoologist); he wrote in a letter
dated 13 Dec. 1993 to the Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India:
'Through a thorough study of the equid remains of the prehistoric settlement of

Surkotada, Kachchha, excavated under the direction of Dr. J.P. Joshi, I can state the
following: The occurrence of true horse (equus caballus L.) was evidenced by the enamel
pattern of the upper and lower cheek and teeth and by the size and form of incisors and
phalanges (toe bones). Since no wild horses lived in India in post-Pleistocene times, the
domestic nature of the Surkotada horses is undoutbtful. This is also supported by an
intermaxilla fragment whose incisor tooth shows clear signs of crib biting, a bad habit
only existing among domestic horses which are not extensively used for war."

"Perhaps the most interesting of the model animals is one that I personally take to
represent a horse.' (Mackay 1938, vol. I, p. 289; vol. II, pl. LXXVIII). Lothal has yielded a
terracotta figure of a horse. It has an elongated body and a thick stumpy tail, mane is
marked out over the neck with a low ridge. Faunal remains at Lothal yielded a second
upper molar. Bhola Nath of the Zoological Survey of India and GV Sreenivasa Rao of the
Archaeological Survey of India note (S.R.Rao, 1985, p. 641): 'The single tooth of the
horse referred to above indicates the presence of the horse at Lothal during the
Harappan period. The tooth from Lothal resembles closely with that of the modern horse
and has pli-caballian (a minute fold near the base of the spur or protocone) which is well
distinguishable character of the cheek teeth of the horse.' "However, the most startling
discovery comes from the recent excavation at Nausharo, conducted by Jarrige et al. (in
press). In the Harappan levels over here have been found clearly identifiable terracotta
figurines of this animal." (Lal, 1998, opcit., p. 112).

By the Early Dynasty III period, the Mesopotamian craftsmen had mastered the
techniques for working copper, lead, silver, gold and tin. The Royal Cemetery at Ur has
yielded a corpus of metal work where true tin bronze is found, apart from the common
arsenical bronze and precious metals: gold, silver and electrum. Metal blades were
produced in many sizes to serve as arrows, spears, daggers. Also found are sickles and
hoes. Axes come in many shapes and sizes, some cast and some hammered with the
tang beaten round a haft (See the drawing of a Sumerian soldier carrying spear and axe.)
(Crawford, H., p. 133). Muhly (1983) quotes a passage from the late third millennium
Laws of Eshnunna that a workman issued with tools for the harvest must return the same
weight of metal at the end of the season, even if some of it is scrap. This is an indication
that temples had metalsmithies where metal could be melted down and
recast. Simug was the metalsmith.

In the Ur III period, the royal mausoleum of Shulgi at Ur yielded scraps of gold leaf which
seem to have been part of architectural decoration, as was the case in the Jemdat Nasr
period where the altar of the Eye temple at Tell Brak was decorated with gold leaf. The
texts state that large numbers of metal-workers were employed by both the temple and
the palace to produce a whole range of goods from tools to jewellery. These workers at
Ur worked in groups under a foreman who reported to a general overseer. An assay
office issued the metals to the foreman and weighed the finished article before counter-
signing the receipts issued by the general overseer. In provincial towns, the governor
himself issued metal from the treasury. Private metal merchants handled the supply of
raw materials. (Mallowan 1947; Crawford, op.cit., p. 134).

Chanhu-daro, Pl. LXXIV & Mohenjodaro: copper and bronze tools and utensils (an

inscription line mirrored on a zebu seal)

Central Asia: Altyn-depe and Parkhai

Harappan contacts with Central Asia are now beyond doubt especially after the
discovery of; (1) a few Harappan pottey types in Namazga V sites, (2) a Harappan
inscribed seal at Altin Depe, (3) comparable ivory objects at Altin Depe, and (4) a close
similarity in a few copper artefacts (Gupta 1979: Vol. 2)...

"The discovery in Altyn-Depe of a proto-Indian seal with two signs deserves special
mention. V.M. Masson pointed out, that what the seal depicted was a pictogram and not
just a representation of animals. In his opinion this means that some of the ancient
residents of Altyn-Depe were able to read this text.(G. Bongard-Levin,
1989, Archaeological Finds in Central Asia throw light on Ancient India, Jagdish
Vibhakar and Usha Gard (Eds.), Glimpses of Ancient India through Soviet Eyes, Delhi,
Sundeep Prakashan)

Finds at Atlyn-depe: ivory sticks and gaming pieces (?) obtained from Sarasvati Sindhu
civilization; similar objects with dotted circles found
in Mohenjodaro and Harappa.

Two seals found at Altyn-depe (Excavation 9 and

7) found in the shrine and in the 'elite quarter’.

aḍar ‘harrow’; aduru ‘native metal’ (Ka.) kolmo ‘paddy plant’ (Santali); rebus: kolami

‘furnace, smithy’ (Te.) sathiyā (H.), sāthiyo (G.); satthia, sotthia (Pkt.) Svastikā sign

Rebus: Kashmiri. Grierson lex. zasath ज़स ्◌्थ ् or zasuth ज़सथु ् । fप ु m. (sg. dat. zastas ज़흲तस ्),्

zinc, spelter, pewter (cf. Hindī jast). jasti jasti ज&above;󑆁흲त

󑆁흲त । fपधु ातिु वशेषिनिम휲तम ् adj.

c.g. made of zinc or pewter. jasth ज흲थ । fप ु m. (sg. dat. jastas ज흲तस ्),् zinc, spelter; pewter.
ु below; । fप ू󑄡वः adj. (f. jastüvü ज흲त&above;व
jastuvu ज흲तवु & ज흲त व ू&below;),
ू made of zinc or pewter.

satavu, satuvu, sattu = pewter, zinc (Ka.) dosta = zinc (Santali) jasada, yasada,

yasadyaka, yasatva = zinc (Jaina Pali) ruhi-tutiya (Urdu) tuttha (Arthas'a_stra) totamu,

tutenag (Te.) oriechalkos (Gk.)

Bronze artefacts found

in Parkhai cemetery II:
double-edged knives,
small fragments and
spiral-headed pins; the
pins of different sizes
had spirals no fewer
than four lops; six spiral-
headed pins are known
from the northern
foothills of Kopet Dagh;
one came from Kysyl
Arvant and dated to
Namazga IV period; all
identical to the Parkhai
examples and
considered an import
from the Sumbar Valley;
the remainder---two
from the southern
mound at Anau, two from Namazga-depe and one from Shor-depe -- had small loops
twisted only 1.5-2 times. They were found in Namazga V levels from cemeteries in
northern Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Slightly twisted spiral-head pins from Mundigat
(periods IV, I-IV, 3) and multi-looped spiral-headed pins from Tepe Hissar (period IIB),
which are identical to those from Parkhai II, are also related to this period; the dates of

Parkhai finds are ca. middle of the third millennium B.C. (V.M. Masson, Seals of a Proto-
Indian Type from Altyn-depe, pp. 149-162; V.M. Masson, Urban Centers of Early Class
Society, pp. 135-148; I.N. Khlopin, The Early bronze age cemetery in Parkhai II: The first
two seasons of excavations, 1977-78, pp. 3-34 in: Philip L. Kohl (ed.), 1981, The Bronze
Age Civilization in Central Asia, Armonk, NY, ME Sharpe, Inc.)

The cit-state of Lagash (ca. 2060: king Shulgi) records a toponym about the presence of

a ‘Meluhhan village’ (Parpola 1975: 46). The word ‘Melukkha’ also appears,

occasionally, as a personal name in cuneiform texts of the Old Akkadian and Ur III

periods. Seals with Indus script have been found at Kish (Tell Ingharra), Ur, Tell Asmar,

Nippur (Nuffar) and Susa. A shard with an inscription has been found at Rass al-Junaz

(southeastern extremity of the Oman Peninsula). Seal mpressions with Indus script have

been found at Umma (Tell Jokha) and Tepe Yahya. In Oman, United Arab Emirates,

Susa, Qalat al-Bahrain, Shimal (Ras al-Khaimah) and Telll Abraq (Umm al-Qaiwain),

cubical weights of banded chert (unit

weight: 13.63 gms.) have been found,

comparable to the weights of Sindhu-

Sarasvati civilization.

"A copper blade (Marshall 1931: pl.

136, f.3) found in one of the upper

levels, though termed a spear-blade,

may conceivably have been a knife

(Plate IX, no.1). An exactly similar

blade, but with a slightly longer tang,

was found in the A mound at Kish

(Mackay 1929a: pl. 39, gp. 3, f.4)...

attention should be called to a steatite seal from Kish, now in Baghdad Museum, which

bears the svastika symbol. This seal, both in shape and design upon it, exactly

resembles the little square seals of steatite and glazed paste that are so frequently found

at Mohenjodaro (Marshall 1931: pl. 144, f. 507-15). I do not think that I err in regarding

the Kish example, which was found by Watelin, as either of Indian workmanship or made

locally for an Indian resident in Sumer... The curious perforated vessels shown (Marshall

1931: pl. 84, f. 3-18) are very closely allied to perforated vessels found at Kish (Mackay

1929a: pl. 54, f. 36), especially in the fact that besides the numerous holes in the sides

there is also a large hole in the base, which suggests that by this means they were

supported on a rod or something similar... I have suggested, from evidence obtained by

Sir Aurel Stein in southern Baluchistan, that these perforated vessels were used as

heaters...(E.J.H.Mackay, Further links between ancient Sind, Sumer and

elsewhere, Antiquity, Vol. 5, 1931, pp. 459-473).

ÔThe Finno-Ugrian ties with the Dravidian languages imply that the latter spread to India

from north to south, which was the basis for the map drawn by Andronov (Fig.

32).”(Vadim Mikhailovich Masson, 1988, Altyn-depe, The University Museum, UPenn,

pp. 119-120)

Findspots of mid-ribbed disc beads

ÔJonathan Mark Kenoyer makes the suggestion (see cat. No. 278b), based on the

similarity between gold and silver floral head-dresses at Ur and diadem sshown on

Harappan terracottas, that some of the servants buried in the tombs of Ur may have

come to Mesopotamia from the Indus valle. The facts that a gold floral ornament was

also worn by queen Puabi and that in both her grave and another there were belts made

of biconical carnelian beads (cat. Nos. 62,80) may further reflect the predilection of the Ur

elie for Indian jewelry and fashion, including Harappan belts (see cat. No. 279)…One

particular bead type made of gold and silver, a flat disk with a tubular midrib string-hole,

appears to have been distributed, and probably manufactured as well, at sites along the
same routes as the etched carnelian beads (see Fig.72). Such beads were found at

many Indus sites, including the port of Lothal, at Altyn-depe in Turkmenistan, at Tepe

Hissar in Iran, in the Royal Cemetery at Ur, at Eskiyapar and Troy in Anatolia, and on

Aigina in the Aegean. (Possehl, 1996, pp. 161-162).” (Aruz, pp. 239-244)

Strings of gold disc beads. Mohenjodaro. (See Kenoyer 1998, p. 140, fig 7.14, p. 201,

no.16) 3rd millennium BCE.

Buffaloes sitting with legs bent in yogic āsana. Susa Cc-Da, ca.

3000-2750 BC, proto-Elamite seals: (a-c) After Amiet 1972: pl. 25,

no. 1017 (=a); and Amiet 1980a: pl. 38, nos. 581-2 (b-c)

m305A, m181A

• Buffalo-horned face. Painting on a jar. Kot Diji. C.

2800-2600 BCE [After Khan 1965, pl. XVIIb; cf. Fig.

2.25 in JM Kenoyer, 1998, Ancient cities of the Indus

Valley Civilization, Karachi, Oxford University

Press]. sal ‘bos gaurus’ bison; sal ‘workshop’ (Santali) Vikalpa: ran:gā ‘buffalo’;

ran:ga ‘pewter or alloy of tin (ran:ku), lead (nāga) and antimony


• mu~he ‘face’; mu~h ‘ingot’ (Santali)

kōḷ ‘planet’ (Ta.). Rebus: kol = metal (Ta.)

Indus seal. Water-buffalo.

Seal impression. Mohenjodaro.

National Museum. New Delhi, 147.

Shell ladle, Chanhudaro. Shell ladle,

Mesopotamia. Girsu (modern Tello)

(Arus, pp. 399-400).



weights, Chanhudaro. Cubical weight of veind jasper, Iran, Susa. 12th

cent. BCE. (Aruz, pp. 401-402).

(Source: Sea-faring artisans and merchants of Meluhha: Aruz, Joan ed., 2005, Art of the

First cities – the third millennium BCE from the Mediterranean to the Indus, New York,

New Haven, Yale University Press, Metropolitan Museum of Art.)

Late Uruk and Jemdet Nasr seal; ca. 3200-3000 BC; serpentine; cat.1; boar and bull in

procession; terminal: plant; heavily pitted surface beyond plant

Late Uruk and

Jemdet Nasr seal;

ca. 3200-3000

BC; talc; cat.2;

two gazelles (?)

with heads turned

backward, an antelope, a recumbent antelope (?), with two smaller indistinguishable

animals above; in the field: plant(?)

Late Uruk and Jemdet Nasr seal;

ca. 3200-3000 (?) BC; marble;

cat.3; loop bore; an antelope wiht

two panchers, one with head


ca. 2254-2220 BC (mature); ceramic; cat. 79; two groups in

combat. A naked, bearded hero wrestles with a water

buffalo, and a bull-man wrestles with a lion. In the centre:



Appears to be recut.

ca. 750-600 BC; chalcedony; cat. 285; a

hero in a short kilt stands between two

ibexes and graps their horns. In the field:

plant in vase. In the sky: star, crescent.

Slide 90. Molded tablet. (Kenoyer) Plano convex molded

tablet showing a female battling two tigers and standing above an

elephant. A single Indus script depicting a spoked wheel is above the

head of the deity. Material: terra cotta Dimensions: 3.91 length, 1.5 to

1.62 cm width Harappa, Lot 4651-01 Harappa Museum, H95-2486

Meadow and Kenoyer 1997

S. vāraṇu ‘to shut, forbid’ (CDIAL 11553) Rebus: bharat (5 copper, 4

zinc and 1 tin)(P.) bharan or toul alloy of brass or

zinc and bronze. (B.)

On the reverse (89), an individual is spearing a

water buffalo with one foot pressing the head

down and one arm holding the tip of a horn. A gharial [lizard?] is depicted above the

sacrifice scene and a figure seated in yogic position, wearing a horned headdress, looks

on. The horned headdress has a branch with three prongs or leaves emerging from the


• kolhe (iron-smelter; kolhuyo, jackal)

• kol, kollan-, kollar = blacksmith (Ta.lex.)

• kol ‘to kill’ (Ta.)

• sal ‘bos gaurus’, bison; rebus: sal ‘workshop’ (Santali)

• kamaḍha ‘penance’; rebus: kampaṭṭam ‘mint’ (Ta.) kūtī = bunch of twigs (Skt.)

kuṭhi 'smelting furnace' (Santali)

• mangar ‘crocodile’ (Santali); rebus: kaulo mengro ‘blacksmith’ (Gypsy)

kolsa = to kick the foot forward, the foot to come into contact with anything when walking

or running; kolsa pasirkedan = I kicked it over (Santali.lex.)

mēṛsa = v.a. toss, kick with the foot, hit with the tail (Santali.lex.)

me~ṛhe~t iron; ispat m. = steel; dul m. = cast iron; kolhe m. iron manufactured by the

Kolhes (Santali); meṛed (Mun.d.ari);

meḍ (Ho.)(Santali.lex.Bodding)

One side of a

triangular terracotta

tablet (Md 013);

surface find at

Mohenjo-daro in

1936. Dept. of

Eastern Art, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. kamaḍha, kamaṭha, kamaḍhaka, kamaḍhaga,

kamaḍhaya = a type of penance (Pkt.lex.)

kamaṭamu, kammaṭamu = a portable furnace for melting precious metals; kammaṭi_d.u

= a goldsmith, a silversmith (Te.lex.) ka~pr.auṭ jeweller's crucible made of rags and clay

(Bi.); kampaṭṭam coinage, coin, mint (Ta.)

kamaṭhāyo = a learned carpenter or mason, working on scientific principles; kamaṭhāṇa

[cf. karma, kām, business + sthāna, thāṇam, a place fr. Skt. sthā to stand] arrangement of

one’s business; putting into order or managing one’s business (G.lex.)

mangar ‘crocodile’ (Santali); rebus: kaulo mengro ‘blacksmith’ (Gypsy)

kolli ‘fish’ (Te.); kol ‘smithy, forge, pancaloha’ (Ta.)

Kalibangan. Cylinder seal.

Bactria: tablet depicting an animal with its head looking back; similar pictorials are seen

in seals at Chanhudaro (Mackay 1943: pl. L1).

Fig. 5. Cultural traditions of the example of the seals of the

Bronze Age Margiana


Fig. 4. Addition of a new type of traditional elements in a

nontraditional combination. For example, the materials of

Southern Turkmenistan neolithic and bronze


Tree in front. Fish in front of and above a one-horned bull. Cylinder seal impression (IM

8028), Ur, Mesopotamia. White shell. 1.7 cm. High, dia. 0.9 cm. [Cf. T.C. Mitchell, 1986,

Indus and Gulf type seals from Ur in: Shaikha Haya Ali

Al Khalifa and Michael Rice, 1986, Bahrain through the

ages: the archaeology, London: 280-1, no.8 and fig. 112].

"No.7...A bull, unhumped, of the so-called 'unicorn' type,

raises his head towards a simplified version of a tree, and

two uncertain objects, one a sort of trefoil, are shown above his back. Under his head is

an unmistakable character of the Indus script, the 'fish' with cross-hatchings..." (C.J.

Gadd, Seals of Ancient Indian Style Found at Ur', in: G.L. Possehl, ed., 1979, Ancient

Cities of the Indus, Delhi, Vikas Publishing House, p. 117).

Tell Suleimeh (level IV), Iraq;

IM 87798; (al-Gailani Werr,

1983, p. 49 No. 7). A fish

over a short-horned bull and a bird over a one-horned bull; cylinder sea impression,

(Akkadian to early Old Babylonian). Gypsum. 2.6 cm. Long 1.6 cm. Dia. [Drawing by

Larnia Al-Gailani Werr. Cf. Dominique Collon 1987, First impressions: cylinder seals in

the ancient Near East, London: 143, no. 609] bai-li ‘bull’ rebus: bali ‘iron sand ore’; kola

‘fish’ rebus: kolimi ‘furnace, smithy’; damr.a ‘heifer’; ta(m)bra ‘copper’; bat.a ‘bird’;

rebus: bat.a ‘kiln, furnace’. damṛa = heifer, young bull, steer (G.); rebus: tambra =

copper (Skt.)

damaḍī (H.) damṛi, dambṛi = one eighth of a copper pice (Santali)

bail ‘ox’; bali ‘iron sand ore’ (Santali) Vikalpa: homa = bison (Pengo); rebus: hom = gold

(Ka.); soma = electrum, gold-silver compound ore (RV)

baṭa = quail; rebus: baṭa = kiln (Santali); baṭa = a kind of iron (G.); beḍa = fish (Santali);

rebus: beḍa = hearth (G.) barea = two, a pair; rebus: baṛae = blacksmith (Santali)

Vikalpa: dol ‘likeness’; rebus: dul ‘cast (metal)(Mu.)

Gadd seals

What are referred to as Gadd seals are from Mesopotamia, and Gulf islands of Failaka
and Bahrein (Dilmun, Magan).

Seal impression and reverse of seal (with

pierced lug handle) from Ur (U.7683; BM
120573); image of bison and cuneiform
inscription; length 2.7, width 2.4, ht. 1.1 cm.
cf. Gadd, PBA 18 (1932), pp. 5-6, pl. I,
no.1; Mitchell 1986: 280-1 no.7 and fig. 111; Parpola, 1994, p. 131: signs may be read
as (1) sag(k) or ka, (2) ku or lu or ma, and (3) zi or ba (4)?. SAG.KU(?).IGI.X or
SAG.KU(?).P(AD)(?) The commonest value: sag-ku-zi

Seal; BM 122187; dia. 2.55; ht. 1.55 cm. Gadd PBA

18 (1932), pp. 6-7, pl. 1, no. 2

Seal; BM 122946; Dia. 2.6;

ht. 1.2cm.; Gadd PBA 18
(1932), p. 7, pl. I, no.3;
Legrain, Ur Excavations, X
(1951), no. 629.

urseal6 Cylinder seal; BM 122947;

U. 16220 (cut down into UrError!

Bookmark not defined. III mausolea

from Larsa level; U. 16220),

enstatite; Legrain, 1951, No. 632;

Collon, 1987, Fig. 611.Humped bull stands before a plant, feeding from a round manger

or a bundle of fodder (or, probably, a cactus); behind the bull is a scorpion and two

snakes; above the whole a human figure, placed horizontally, with fantastically long arms

and legs.

Cylinder (white
shell) seal
impression; Ur,
Mesopotamia (IM
8028); white shell.
height 1.7 cm., dia. 0.9 cm.; cf. Gadd,

PBA 18 (1932), pp. 7-8, pl. I, no.7; Mitchell 1986: 280-1, no.8 and fig. 112; Parpola, 1994,
p. 181; fish vertically in front of and horizontally above a unicorn; trefoil design
Seal; BM 118704; U. 6020; Gadd PBA 18 (1932), pp. 9-10, pl. II, no.8; two figures carry
between them a vase, and one presents a goat-like animal (not an antelope) which he
holds by the neck. Human figures wear early Sumerian garments of fleece.

Seal; BM 122945; U. 16181; dia. 2.25, ht. 1.05 cm; Gadd PBA 18
(1932), p. 10, pl. II, no. o; each of four quadrants terminates at the
edge of the seal in a vase; each quadrant is occupied by a naked
figure, sitting so that, following round the circle, the head of one is
placed nearest to the feet of the preceding; two figures clasp their hands upon their
breasts; the other two spread out the arms, beckoning with one hand.

Seal; BM 120576; U. 9265; Gadd, PBA

18 (1932), p. 10, pl. II, no. 10; bull with
long horns below an uncertain object,
possibly a quadruped and rider, at right
angles to the ox (counter clockwise)

Seal; UPenn; a scorpion and an elipse [an eye (?)]; U. 16397;

Gadd, PBA 18 (1932), pp. 10-11, pl. II, no. 11

Rectangular stamp seal of dark steatite; U. 11181; B.IM. 7854;

ht. 1.4, width 1.1 cm.; Woolley, Ur Excavations, IV (1956), p. 50,

Seal impression, Ur (Upenn;

U.16747); dia. 2.6, ht. 0.9
cm.; Gadd, PBA 18 (1932),

pp. 11-12, pl. II, no. 12; Porada 1971: pl.9, fig.5; Parpola, 1994, p. 183; water carrier with
a skin (or pot?) hung on each end of the yoke across his shoulders and another one
below the crook of his left arm; the vessel on the right end of his yoke is over a receptacle
for the water; a star on either side of the head (denoting supernatural?). The whole object
is enclosed by 'parenthesis' marks. The parenthesis is perhaps a way of splitting of the
ellipse (Hunter, G.R., JRAS, 1932, 476). An unmistakable example of an 'hieroglyphic'

Seal; BM 122841; dia. 2.35; ht. 1 cm.; Gadd PBA 18 (1932), p. 12, pl. II, no. 13; circle
with centre-spot in each of four spaces formed by four forked branches springing from
the angles of a small square. Alt. four stylised bulls' heads (bucrania) in the quadrants of
an elaborate quartering device which has a cross-hatched rectangle in the centre.

Seal; UPenn; cf. Philadelphia Museum Journal, 1929;

ithyphallic bull-men; the so-called 'Enkidu' figure common upon
Babylonian cylinders of the early period; all have horned head-
dresses; moon-symbols upon poles seem to represent the
door-posts that the pair of 'twin' genii are commonly seen
supporting on either side of a god; material and shape make it
the 'Indus' type while the device is Babylonian.
Seal impression; UPenn; steatite; bull below a scorpion; dia.
2.4cm.; Gadd, PBA 18 (1932), p. 13, Pl. III, no. 15; Legrain,
MJ (1929), p. 306, pl. XLI, no. 119; found at Ur in the cemetery
area, in a ruined grave .9 metres from the surface, together
with a pair of gold ear-rings of the double-crescent type and
long beads of steatite and carnelian, two of gilt copper, and
others of lapis-lazuli, carnelian, and banded sard. The first
sign to the left has the form of a flower or perhaps an animal's skin with curly tail; there is
a round spot upon the bull's back.

Seal impression; BM 123208; found in the filling of a tomb-shaft (Second
Dynasty of Ur). Dia. 2.3; ht. 1.5 cm.; Gadd, PBA 18 (1932), pp. 13-14, pl.
III, no. 16; Buchanan, JAOS 74 (1954), p. 149.
Seal impression, Mesopotamia (?) (BM 120228); cf. Gadd 1932: no.17;
cf. Parpola, 1994, p. 132. Note the doubling of the
common sign, 'jar'.

Seal and impression (BM 123059), from an antique

dealer, Baghdad; script and motif of a bull mating with a cow; the tuft at the end of the tail
of the cow is summarily shaped like an arrow-head; inscription is of five characters, most
prominent among them the two 'men' standing side by side. To the right of these is a
damaged 'fish' Gadd 1932: no.18; Parpola, 1994, p.219.

Failaka seal. The Yale tablet is dated to ca. the second half of the
twentieth century B.C.... Trade3 on the Persian gulf was in existence well
before that time-- about 2350 B.C.-- when Sargon, the first Akkadian king
referred to ships from or destined for Melukhkha, Magan and Tilmun
(Dilmun) at his wharves. in the Third Dynasty of Ur (around 2000), when trade apparently
was centred at Magan. It is even better documented on other tablets from Ur (from about
1900 and from about 1800), belonging to various kings of Larsa. At this time the trade
was centered at Tilmun... Cuneiform inscriptions naming Inzak, the god of Tilmun, were
found on Failaka and, a long time ago, one on Bahrein... Failaka can be equated with
Tilmun, or at least was an important part of it. (Briggs Buchanan, A dated seal
impression connecting Babylonia and ancient India, Archaeology, Vol. 20, No.2, 1967,
pp. 104-107).

Yale tablet. Bull's head (bucranium) between two seated figures drinking
from two vessels through straws. YBC. 5447; dia. c. 2.5 cm. Possibly

from Ur. Buchanan, studies Landsberger, 1965, p. 204; A seal impression was found on
an inscribed tablet (called Yale tablet) dated to the tenth year of Gungunum, King of
Larsa, in southern Babylonia--that is, 1923 B.C. according to the most commonly
accepted ('middle') chronology of the period. The design in the impression closely
matches that in a stamp seal found on the Failaka island in the Persian Gulf, west of the
delta of the Shatt al Arab, which is formed by the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates

Reduplication connotes dul ‘likeness’; rebus: ‘cast (metal)’ to prefix the following
lexemes which explain the semantics of each reduplicated glyph e.g., dul meṛed,
cast iron (Mu.) dol = likeness, picture, form (Santali)

Cylinder seal impression

[elephant, rhinoceros and
gharial (alligator) on the

upper register] Tell Asmar (After Frankfort,

'The Indian Civilization and the near East’,
Annual Bibliography of Indian Archaeology,

Mohenjodaro tablet. M1429c Md 602 prism
seal, gharial holding fish, boat with 2 birds and
cabin, text

iṭan:kar = alligator (Ta.); ḍān:ro ‘blacksmith’

(N.) pasaramu, pasalamu = an animal, a
beast, a brute, quadruped (Te.lex.) Thus, the depiction of animals in epigraphs is related
to, rebus: pasra = smithy (Santali)

kaula mengro ‘smith’ (Gypsy); kolli ‘fish’; mangar ‘crocodile’ (Santali)

pisera_ a small deer brown above and black below (H.)(CDIAL 8365).
ḍān:gra = wooden trough or manger sufficient to feed one animal (Mundari). iṭan:kārr̤i = a
capacity measure (Ma.) Rebus: ḍhan:gar ‘blacksmith’ (Bi.)

m0489At m0489Bt A standing human couple mating (a tergo); one side of a prism tablet

from Mohenjo-daro (m489b). Other motifs on the inscribed object are: two goats eating

leaves on a platform; a cock or hen (?) and a three-headed animal (perhaps antelope,

one-horned bull and a short-horned bull). The leaf pictorial connotes on the goat

composition connotes loa; hence, the reading is of this pictorial component is: lohar

kamar = a blacksmith, worker in iron, superior to the ordinary kamar (Santali.lex.)]

pattar ‘goldsmiths’ (Ta.) patra ‘leaf’ (Skt.) melh ‘goat’ (Br.); milakkhu ‘copper’ (Pali)

r-an:ku, ran:ku = fornication, adultery (Te.lex.); rebus: ranku ‘tin’ (Santali)

kaulo-mengro, s. A blacksmith; kaulo ratti. Black blood, Gypsy blood (Gypsy). mangar

`crocodile‘ (Bal.); kula ‘house’. Rebus: kolli ‘fish’ (DEDR 2139)


elephant, boar/rhinoceros, tiger, tiger face turned

heifer, antelope, bullock, brahmani bull

Rebus mleccha glosses:

Ibha, badhia, kol, krammara kol

damṛa, melh, bail, adar ḍangra

Iron (ib), carpenter(badhi), smithy (kol ‘pancaloha’), alloy-smith (kol kamar)

tam(b)ra copper, milakkhu copper, bali (iron sand ore), native metal (aduru), ḍhangar


Cylinder seal impression, Mesopotamia. The

bulls flank a mountain topped by a leaf. [Scene
representing Gilgamesh and Ea-bani in conflict
with bulls in a wooded and mountainous
country; British Museum No. 89308]

Image parallels:

Leaf on Mountain summit

Kalibangan053 Sign 232

ṭākuro = hill top (N.); ṭāngī = hill, stony

country (Or.); ṭān:gara = rocky hilly land
(Or.); ḍān:gā = hill, dry upland (B.); ḍā~g =
mountain-ridge (H.)(CDIAL 5476).

ḍān:ro = a term of contempt for a blacksmith (N.)(CDIAL 5524). ṭhākur = blacksmith

(Mth.) (CDIAL 5488).

Kotdiji burial shard showing leaf. Sign

Mountain topped by a leaf gets stylized as

an important motif. Pro-elamite glyptics.
Leaf motif.

Cylinder seal and modern impression: hunting

scene, 2250–2150 B.C.; late Akkadian period
Mesopotamia Chert; H. 1 1/16 in. (2.8 cm) This
seal, depicting a man hunting a markhor in a
mountain forest, is an early attempt to represent
a landscape in Mesopotamian art. It was made during the Akkadian period (ca. 2350–
2150 B.C.), during which the iconographic repertory of the
seal engraver expanded to include a variety of new
mythological and narrative subjects. The owner of the seal
was Balu-ili, a high court official whose title was Cupbearer.

Is this glyph on the seal? kolmo ‘graft’ (Ka.); rebus: kolami ‘smithy’ (Te.)

kamaṛkom = fig leaf (Santali.lex.) kamarmaṛā (Has.), kamaṛkom (Nag.); the petiole or
stalk of a leaf (Mundari.lex.)

miṇḍhāl ‘markhor’ (Tōrwālī) me~t = the eye (Santali) Rebus: meḍ ‘iron’ (Mu.) kūṭamu =
summit of a mountain (Te.lex.) Rebus: kūṭakamu = mixture (Te.lex.) kūṭam = workshop
(Ta.) The Sign 230 thus connotes an alloyed metal, kūṭa [e.g. copper + dhātu ‘mineral
(ore)’ as in: ārakūṭa = brass (Skt.)] Vikalpa: kala stag, buck (Ma.); kal a.r. Nilgiri ibex
(Ko.); kalai stag, buck, male black monkey (Ta.); kalan:kompu stag’s horn (Ta.)(DEDR
1312) (capra sibirica hemalayanus) Rebus: kallan mason (Ma.); kalla glass beads (Ma.);
kalu stone (Kond.a); xal id., boulder (Br.)(DEDR 1298). ḍā~g = mountain-ridge
(H.)(CDIAL 5476). ḍān:ro = a term of contempt for a blacksmith (N.)(CDIAL
5524). ṭhākur = blacksmith (Mth.) (CDIAL 5488). daṭhi, daṭi the petioles and mid-ribs of
a compound leaf after the leaflets have been plucked off, stalks of certain plants, as
Indian corn, after the grain has been taken off (Santali)

L048 ibex

Substantive: dhātu ‘mineral’ (Vedic); a mineral, metal (Santali); dhāta id. (G.)

kūṭamu = summit of a mountain (Te.lex.) Rebus: kūṭakamu = mixture (Te.lex.)

kūṭam = workshop (Ta.) The Sign 230 thus connotes an alloyed metal, kūṭa [e.g. copper
+ dhātu ‘mineral (ore)’ as in: ārakūṭa = brass (Skt.)]

• ḍaṭo ‘claws or pincers (chelae) of crabs’; ḍaṭom to seize with the claws or
pincers, as crabs, scorpions (Santali) kamaṭha = a crab, a tortoise (G.lex.)

Rebus: kammaṭa = mint, gold furnace (Te.) kampaṭṭam ‘mint’ (Ta.)

• daṭhi, daṭi the petioles and mid-ribs of a compound leaf after the leaflets have
been plucked off, stalks of certain plants, as Indian corn, after the grain has been
taken off (Santali)

• Substantive: dhātu ‘mineral’ (Vedic); a mineral, metal (Santali); dhāta id. (G.)

Cylinder seal
impression; scene
mythological beings,
bullls and lions in
conflict (British
Museum No. 89538).

m308 Seal

Mcmohan cylinder seal

with six signs,found in 'Swat and Seistan',

unrolled photographically and the

unbroken stamp-end of the seal; positive

impression of the cylinder showing Harappan inscriptions (Robert Knox, 1994, A new

Indus Valley Cylinder Seal, pp. 375-378 in: South Asian Archaeology 1993, Vol.

I, Helsinki)

The triangle motif is similar to the motif shown on M-443B.

Possible connection with Sibri cylinder seals (which show (i) a zebu and a lion and image
of a scorpion on the flat end (Shah and Parpola 1991: 413); and (ii) a zebu bull with a
geometric pattern of triangles and a circle at the stamp end).

"The Seistan findspot of this seal is of great interest. Evidence exists for the movement of
Indus commodities, and, therefore, Indus commercial activities in the direction of western
Asia and, in return, from there to the Indus world.. Evidence for the Harappan penetration
of Seistan and farther to southeastern Iran is scanty but includes at least one other Indus
inscription from an impression of a sherd discovered at Tepe Yahya, period IV A (c. 2200
BC) (Lamberg- Karlovsky and Tosi 1973: pl. 137)" (Knox, p. 377).

One of the tools of a Mesopotamian bureaucrat

3100 BC

At the
time this seal was made, Uruk was one of the largest settlements in the world, estimated
at around 250 hectares (about 620 acres). Such a large centre, with several thousand
inhabitants, required sophisticated means of administration; this seal may have belonged
to one of the most important officials. They were rolled across damp clay to seal vessels
or doors with a mark of authority.

The figure depicted here is often referred to as a priest-king because he undertakes

activities which could be described as religious and royal (although there was no clear
division of these functions in the ancient world). The beard, net-like skirt and wide band
around his head distinguish him from other representationsof humans. The poles with
loops were probably actually made from reeds bound together and are the symbol of
Inana, a goddess of fertility and the patron of Uruk.

Large seals of this period are generally unpierced and often have an animal carved as
part of the seal or cast in metal and fixed on top. These contrast with contemporary
smaller schematic seals which appear to show workers, perhaps connected with the
production of textiles and pottery and rows of animals.

P. Amiet, La glyptique Mesopotamienne ar (Paris, Centre National de la Recherche

Scientifique, 1980)

D.J. Wiseman, Catalogue of the Western Asiat (London, 1962)


Izzat Allah Nigahban, 1991, Excavations at Haft Tepe, Iran, The University Museum,

UPenn, p. 97

Fig.85; Susa, tablet: seal impression,

Louvre Sb 11221

Fig. 86; Susa, sealing:

seal impressionl Louvre

MDAI, 43, no. 240

Fig. 87; Susa,

stamp seal from the Gulf, Louvre, MDAI, 43, No. 1716; depicts two goat-

antelopes crouching head to tail, inside and outside

an oval. Incised eyes are saucer-shaped.

Fig. 88; Susa, stamp seal from the Gulf, Teheran

museum, MDAI, 43, no. 1717; an animal tamer wearing a

skirt and grasping with one hand a goat-antelope with

its head turned back and with its feet bound; with the other

hand, the person holds a large object which looks like

an architectural feature or shield.

Fig. 89; Susa, stamp seal from the Gulf, Teheran

Museum, MDAI, 43, no. 1718; a person, naked and thin, has a

stylised head shaped like a narrow arch with indentations to

mark the nose and mouth. Animals have bound feet and

surround a square object on which the person stands.

Fig.90; Susa, cylinder seal from the Gulf, Louvre, MDAI, 43,

no. 2021; made of steatite; a person with a horned tiara, wearing an unevenly chequered

robe; the person is attended by a naked man and alongside are two tamers grasping a

pair of crossed animals.

Fig. 91; Susa, cylinder seal from the Gulf, Teheran Museum, MDAI, 43,no. 1975; steatite;

three figures with stylised heads in the form of notched arches, wearing boldly chequered

skirts; one is seated; the other two stand with backs turned, hold an enormous feathered

arrow, and one of them extends a hand towards a stylised goat-antelope.

kaṇḍa ‘arrow’ kaṇḍ = a furnace, altar

(Santali.lex.) The arrow sign terminates 184 inscriptions (out of a total of 227

inscriptions in which the sign occurs)

Fig. 92; Susa, stamp seal made of

bitumen compound, Louvre, MDAI, 43,

no. 1726; a tamer with three heavily hatched animals

Fig. 93; Susa stamp seal made

of bitumen compound,

Louvre, MDAI, 43, no. 1720

Fig. 94;

Susa, stamp seal from a

butimen compound,

Louvre, MDAI, 43, no. 1726

Fig. 95; Susa, stamp seal of bitumen compound,

Louvre, MDAI, 43, no. 1725; a woman shown full-face is squatting with legs

apart, possibly on a stool.

(A similar image of a woman with legs spread out occurs on an Indus tablet).

"Susa... profound affinity between the Elamite people who migrated to Anshan and Susa
and the Dilmunite people... Elam proper corresponded to the plateau of Fars with its
capital at Anshan. We think, however that it probably extended further north into the
Bakhtiari Mountains... likely that the chlorite and serpentine vases reached Susa by
sea... From the victory proclamations of the kings of Akkad we also learn that the city of
Anshan had been re-established, as the capital of a revitalised political ally: Elam itself...
the import by Ur and Eshnunna of inscribed objects typical of the Harappan culture
provides the first reliable chronological evidence. [C.J. Gadd, Seals of ancient Indian
style found at Ur, Proceedings of the British Academy, XVIII, 1932; Henry Frankfort, Tell
Asmar, Khafaje and Khorsabad, OIC, 16, 1933, p. 50, fig. 22). It is certainly possible that
writing developed in India before this time, but we have no real proof. Now Susa had
received evidence of this same civilisation, admittedly not all dating from the Akkadian
period, but apparently spanning all the closing years of the third millennium (L.
Delaporte, Musee du Louvre. Catalogues des Cylindres Orientaux..., vol. I, 1920, pl.
25(15), S.29. P. Amiet, Glyptique susienne, MDAI, 43, 1972, vol. II, pl. 153, no. 1643)...
B. Buchanan has published a tablet dating from the reign of Gungunum of Larsa, in the
twentieth century BC, which carries the impression of such a stamp seal.
(B.Buchanan, Studies in honor of Benno Landsberger, Chicago, 1965, p. 204, s.). The
date so revealed has been whollyconfirmed by the impression of a stamp seal from the
same group, fig. 85, found on a Susa tablet of the same period. (P. Amiet, Antiquites du
Desert de Lut,RA, 68, 1974, p. 109, fig. 16. Maurice Lambert, RA, 70, 1976, p. 71-72). It
is in fact, a receipt of the kind in use at the beginning of the Isin-Larsa period, and
mentions a certain Milhi-El, son of Tem-Enzag, who, from the name of his god, must be a
Dilmunite. In these circumstances we may wonder if this document had not been drawn
up at Dilmun and sent to Susa, after sealing with a local stamp seal. This seal is
decorated with six tightly-packed, crouching animals, characterised by their vague
shapes, with legs tucked under their bodies, huge heads and necks sometimes striped
obliquely. The impression of another seal of similar type, fig. 86, depicts in the centre a
throned figure who seems to dominate the animals, continuing a tradition of which

examples are known at the end of the Ubaid period in Assyria... Fig. 87 to 89 are Dilmun-
type seals found at Susa. The boss is semi-spherical and decorated with a band across
the centre and four incised circles. [Pierre Amiet, Susa and the Dilmun Culture, pp. 262-

Scorpion, pudendum muliebre as hieroglyphs to denote ore-smelting furnace

Scoprion metaphor does occur in a sexual setting on early epigraphs and on one

sculpture from Khajuraho. It is suggested in this note that the scorpion is a hieroglyph

representing a major component mineral ore used by a blacksmith/artisan working with


The most emphatic rebus representation of kut.hi ‘the pubes of a woman’ yields the

homonym kut.hi ‘smelting furnace’ (Santali)

Shown together with scorpions, the reading may refer to a smelting furnace used for iron

or native metal: bica ‘scorpion’ (Assamese); bica = stone ore containing iron (Mu.) [Sand

containing iron ore is has a distinct lexeme: bali (Mu.); rebus: bali ‘bull’ (Skt.)] bali_varda

= a bull (Skt.lex.) bel [Hem. Des. ba-i-li_ fr. Skt.] a bull; a bullock; an ox (G.lex.)

A symbolism of a woman spreading her legs

apart, which recurs on an SSVC inscribed

object. Cylinder-seal impression from Ur

showing a squatting female. L. Legrain, 1936, Ur excavations, Vol. 3, Archaic Seal


kut.hi, kut.i (Or.; Sad. kot.hi) (1) the smelting furnace of the blacksmith; kut.ire bica

duljad.ko talkena, they were feeding the furnace with ore; (2) the

name of e_kut.i has been given to the fire which, in shellac factories,

warms the water bath for softening the lac so that it can be spread into sheets; to make a

smelting furnace; kut.hi-o of a smelting furnace, to be made; the smelting furnace of the

blacksmith is made of mud, cone-shaped, 2’ 6” dia. At the base and 1’ 6” at the top. The

hole in the centre, into which the mixture of charcoal and iron ore is poured, is about 6” to

7” in dia. At the base it has two holes, a smaller one into which the nozzle of the bellow is

inserted, as seen in fig. 1, and a larger one on the opposite side through which the molten

iron flows out into a cavity (Mundari.lex.)

kut.hi = pubes. kola ‘foetus’ [Glyph of a foetus emerging from pudendum muliebre on a

Harappa tablet.] kut.hi = the pubes (lower down than pan.d.e) (SantaliError! Bookmark

not defined..lex.) kut.hi = the womb, the female sexual organ; sorrege kut.hi menaktaea,

tale tale gidrakoa lit. her womb is near, she gets children continually (H. kot.hi_, the

womb) (Santali.lex.Bodding) ko_s.t.ha = anyone of the large viscera (MBh.); kot.t.ha =

stomach (Pali.Pkt.); kut.t.ha (Pkt.); kot.hi_ heart, breast (L.); kot.t.ha_, kot.ha_ belly (P.);

kot.ho (G.); kot.ha_ (M.)(CDIAL 3545). kottha pertaining to the belly (Pkt.); kotha_

corpulent (Or.)(CDIAL 3510). Kot.ho [Skt. kos.t.ha inner part] the stomach, the belly

(G.lex.) ku_ti = pudendum muliebre (Ta.); posteriors, membrum muliebre (Ma.); ku.0y

anus, region of buttocks in general (To.); ku_di = anus, posteriors, membrum muliebre

(Tu.)(DEDR 188). ku_t.u = hip (Tu.); kut.a = thigh (Pe.); kut.e id. (Mand.); ku_t.i hip

(Kui)(DEDR 1885). gu_de prolapsus of the anus (Ka.Tu.); gu_da, gudda id. (Te.)(DEDR


This sculpture showing a scorpion on the hip of a woman sculpted on Khajuraho temple

friezes is explained as a pun on the word kharjura ‘scorpion’. Another explanation could

be the lexeme, kut.a ‘thigh’ could be linked to kut.i ‘smelting furnace for bica ‘stone ore’);

rebus: bica ‘scorpion’.

Rahman-dheri01A and B Rhd1: Two scorpions flanking a

‘frog?’ [?kamat.ha] and a sign T with two holes on the top,

possibly to be tied on a string [Together with bica_, sand

ore, the sign, ‘T’ may connote another ore, perhaps tin].

mr..eka ‘goat’ (Te.); melakka ‘copper’ (Pali)

kamat.ha ‘frog’ (Skt.); kampat.t.a ‘mint’ (Ma.) kampaṭṭam coinage, coin (Ta.);

kammaṭṭam, kammiṭṭam coinage, mint (Ma.); kammatia coiner (Ka.)(DEDR 1236)

kammaṭa = coinage, mint (Ka.M.) kampaṭṭa-k-kūṭam mint; kampaṭṭa-k-kāran- coiner;

kampaṭṭa- muḷai die, coining stamp (Ta.lex.)

kas = iron (Go.) ka_ci (B.), ka_si (A.), kacc = iron blade (of spade)(Go.); kaciya_ (N.) =

toothed sickle (Bi.); reaping-hook (H.) kacci (Kol.Go.) kacia_ (Or.) ka~_jo = band of metal

round joint of a khukri (H.)

kaca kupi = scorpion (Mand.); kasa (kasi-) to bite, sting (Kui); kaccinai = to bite, sting

(Kuwi)(DEDR 1097). kharju_raka scorpion (Skt.); khajuro centipede (N.); khajria_ (Or.);

khaju_ra_ (H.); khajura_ twisted (of thread)(H.)(CDIAL 3829).

kamar kidin a small species of scorpion; kidin, kidin kat.kom a scorpion; kidin marmar a

species of centipede (Santali); busError! Bookmark not defined.: kamar, blacksmith

(SantaliError! Bookmark not defined.)


Assamese bica_ , des’i_ vachi is: vr.s’cika scorpion (RV); vicchika (Pali); vicchia,

vim.chia (Pkt.); bich (Sh.); bichi_ (Ku.); bica_ (A.); bicha_ (B.Or.); bu_ch (Mth.); bi_chi_

(Bhoj.Aw.H.); vi_chi_, vi~chi_ (G.); ucum (Pas’.); vichu~ (S.); vicchua, vim.chua (Pkt.);

vichu~ (L.); bicchu~ (P.); bichu (Or.); bi_chu (Mth.); bicchu~, bi_chu_ (H.); vi_chu (G.);

viccu, viccua, vim.cua (Pkt.); byucu (K.); biccu_ (P.); biccu_ (WPah.); vi_cu_ (M.); viccu, (Kon.); bacchius_ large hornet (n.)(CDIAL 12081). The early form is likely to be

close to: bica_ (A.); or byucu scorpion (K.); bu_ch (Mth.) bacchiu~ large hornet (N.); if so,

there is are substantive words in Mundari and Gujarati for a rebus representation:

bica, bica-diri (Sad. bica_; Or. bici_) stone ore;

mer.ed.bica, stones containing iron; tambabica, copper-

ore stones; samr.obica, stones containing gold (Mundari


Cylinder-seal impression; a griffin and a tiger attack an antelope with its head turned

back. The upper register shows two scorpions and a frog; the lower register shows a

scorpion and two fishes.Syro-Mitannian, fifteenth to fourteenth centuries BCE, Pierpont

Morgan Library, New York. [After Fig. 9 in: Jack M. Sasson (ed.), Civilizations of the

Ancient Near East, p.2705].

. 16397; Gadd, PBA 18 (1932), pp. 10-11, pl. II,

no. 11, urseal15 Ur Seal impression; UPenn; steatite; bull below a scorpion; dia. 2.4cm.;

Gadd, PBA 18 (1932), p. 13, Pl. III, no. 15; Legrain, MJ (1929), p. 306, pl. XLI, no. 119;

found at Ur in the cemetery area, in a ruined grave .9 metres from the surface, together

with a pair of gold ear-rings of the double-crescent type and long beads of steatite and

carnelian, two of gilt copper, and others of lapis-lazuli, carnelian, and banded sard.

bica, bica-diri (Sad. bicā; Or. bicī) stone ore; meṛeḍ bica, stones containing iron;

tambabica, copper-ore stones; samṛobica, stones containing gold (Mundari.lex.)

mu~h metal ingot (Santali) mu~ha~ = the quantity of iron produced at one time in a native

smelting furnace of the Kolhes; iron produced by the Kolhes and formed like a four-

cornered piece a little pointed at each end; mūhā me~ṛhe~t = iron smelted by the Kolhes

and formed into an equilateral lump a little pointed at each end; kolhe tehen me~ṛhe~t

mūhā akata = the Kolhes have to-day produced pig iron (Santali.lex.)

The Sanskritization of Assamese bicā , deśī vachi is: vṛścika scorpion (RV); vicchika

(Pali); vicchia, vim.chia (Pkt.); bich (Sh.); bichī (Ku.); bicā (A.); bichā (B.Or.); būch (Mth.);

bīchī (Bhoj.Aw.H.); vīchī, vi~chī (G.); ucum (Pas’.); vichu~ (S.); vicchua, vim.chua (Pkt.);

vichu~ (L.); bicchu~ (P.); bichu (Or.); bīchu (Mth.); bicchu~, bīchū (H.); vīchu (G.); viccu,

viccua, vim.cua (Pkt.); byucu (K.); biccū (P.); biccū (WPah.); vīcū (M.); viccu,

(Kon.); bacchius large hornet (n.)(CDIAL 12081).

urseal6 Cylinder seal; BM 122947;

U. 16220 (cut down into UrError!

Bookmark not defined. III mausolea

from Larsa level; U. 16220),

enstatite; Legrain, 1951, No. 632;

Collon, 1987, Fig. 611.Humped bull stands before a plant, feeding from a round manger

or a bundle of fodder (or, probably, a cactus); behind the bull is a scorpion and two

snakes; above the whole a human figure, placed horizontally, with fantastically long arms

and legs.

t.agara = taberna montana (Skt.)

takaram tin, white lead, metal sheet, coated with tin (Ta.); tin, tinned iron plate (Ma.);

tagarm tin (Ko.); tagara, tamara, tavara id. (Ka.) tamaru, tamara, tavara id. (Ta.):

tagaramu, tamaramu, tavaramu id. (Te.); t.agromi tin metal, alloy (Kuwi); tamara id.

(Skt.)(DEDR 3001). trapu tin (AV.); tipu (Pali); tau, taua lead (Pkt.); tu~_ tin (P.); zinc,

pewter (Or.); taru_aum lead (OG.); tarvu~ (G.); tumba lead (Si.)(CDIAL 5992).

ran:ga, ran: pewter is an alloy of tin, lead and antimony (an~jana) (Santali).

ran:ga ron:ga, ran:ga con:ga = thorny, spikey, armed with thorns; edel dare ran:ga

con:ga dareka = this cotton tree grows with spikes on it (Santali) [Note the thorns on the

round object in front of the bull on the Ur cylinder seal impression – U 16220]

adar d.angra ‘zebu bull’ (Santali); rebus: adaru ‘native metal’ (Ka.); d.hangar ‘smith’ (H.)

bali = iron stone sand (Santali) bal = to bore a hole, or to puncture, with a red ho iron

(Santali) [Note: the dotted circle may denote rebusError! Bookmark not defined.: bali ‘iron

stone sand’.]

Sign 44 d.abe = adj. bandy-legged (with knees a little bent)(Santali)

d.abbu a dub or copper coin, four pays (Ka.Te.); t.appu (Ta.);

d.habbu_ a double pice (M.)(Ka.lex.) ta_mbro = copper (Tu.lex..)

The prostrate ‘person’ pictograph is comparable to the ‘scorpion’

glyph, ligatured to a lanky woman, shown at the bottom register

of a Failaka seal. Obverse of steatite Dilmun stamp seal from

Failaka Island (c. 2000 BCE).

d.han:ga = tall, long shanked; maran: d.han:gi aimai kanae = she is a big tall woman

(Santali.lex.) Rebus: d.han:gar 'blacksmith'

Obverse of steatite Dilmun stamp seal from Failaka Island (c. 2000 BCE). A human figure

and a variety of animals – two antelopes one with its head looking backward; possibly a

scorpion at the feet of the human figure. A dotted circle is seen above one antelope and a

vase in between the antelope and the human figure. Kuwait National Museum. French

Archaeological Expedition in Kuwait. Several inscriptions at Failaka mention the

Dilmunite god Enzak and his temple or Mesopotamian deities. [Remi Boucharlat,

Archaeology and Artifacts of the Arabian Peninsula, in: Jack M. Sasson (ed.),

Civilizations of the Ancient Near East, pp. 1335-1353].

Pictorial motif on side b of tablet h180: a woman with legs spread out, accent on pubes:

kut.hi; rebus: kut.hi = a furnace for smelting iron ore].

h180A h180B

4304 Tablet in bas-relief h180a Pict-106: Nude female figure upside down

with thighs drawn apart and crab (?) issuing from her womb, two tigers standing face to

face rearing on their hindlegs at L. Pict-92: Man armed with a sickle-shaped weapon on

his right hand and a cakra (?) on his left hand, facing a seated woman with disheveled

hair and upraised arms.

Depicting kamar sa_la_ (blacksmith’s workshop) or, ‘saloi kamar’ = a kind of blacksmith

(perhaps, knife grinder) [sala = afterbirth, kamar]

[Note the glyph of a woman with spread thighs and something (placenta? menses? dead

foetus? tree?) emanating from the womb. It could be a tree denoted by the lexeme kut.i

‘tree’; rebus: kut.hi ‘smelting furnace’].

sa_l afterbirth (N.); cause of pain (G.); dead foetus in womb (M.); hal = afterbirth (K.);

s’alya = anything lodged in the body and causing pain (applied to dead foetus)(Sus’r.);

salla = thorn in body (Pkt.)(CDIAL 12332).

urseal11Seal; UPenn; a scorpion and

an elipse [an eye (?)]; U. 16397; Gadd,

PBA 18 (1932), pp. 10-11, pl. II, no. 11

[Note: Is the ‘eye’ an oval

representation of a bun ingot made from bica_, sand ore?]

Rectangular stamp seal of dark steatite; U. 11181; B.IM. 7854; ht. 1.4, width 1.1

cm.; Woolley, Ur Excavations, IV (1956), p. 50, n.3.

Variants of Sign 51. Seal impression; UPenn; steatite; bull below a

scorpion; dia. 2.4cm.; Gadd, PBA 18 (1932), p.

13, Pl. III, no. 15; Legrain, MJ (1929), p. 306, pl. XLI, no. 119; found

at Ur in the cemetery area, in a ruined grave .9 metres from the

surface, together with a pair of gold ear-rings of the double-crescent

type and long beads of steatite and carnelian, two of gilt copper, and

others of lapis-lazuli, carnelian, and banded sard. The first sign to

the left has the form of a flower or perhaps an animal's skin with

curly tail; there is a round spot upon the bull's back.

Kudurru recopied under Marduk-apla-iddina I, from Susa, 12th cent.

BCE. A godess wearing a tunic with pleats in the back and elbow-length sleeves, a cone-

shaped headdress, and quilted slippers. Top register: sun, moon, star, scorpion: In

Babylonia, a replica of boundary stone placed in a temple, recording a land grant, usually

involving the crown. Land grants were made to crown prince, princess, temple officials

and priests, officers and generals, and courtiers. Personal names are accompanied by

the phrase, ‘his (i.e. the king’s) servant’.

ri_ti = yellow brass, bell metal (Skt.); ritika = calx of brass; ritika_ = brass (Skt.); ri_ri_,

riri_ = yellow brass (Skt.); rit = copper (Dm.); ri_t (Gaw.); ri_da (Sv.); ri_a = brass (Bshk.);

ri_ri_ = brass (Pkt.); ri_l = brass, bronze, copper (Sh.)(CDIAL 10752).

V048, Signs 47, 48 ri_r. = backbone (WPah.) ri_rh =

backbone (Aw.); ri_r.h (H.); ri_d.haka = backbone

(Skt.)(CDIAL 10749a).

barad.o (vardhaki). barduga = a man of acquirements, a proficient man (Ka.) Rebus:

bharatiyo = a caster of metals, a brazier; bharatar, bharatal, bharatal. = moulded; an

article made in a mould (G.) marud.iyo = one who makes and sells wristlets, and puts

wristlets on the wrists of women (G.lex.) marad.a = twisting; a twist; a turn; marad.avum

= to twist, to turn; marad.a_vum = to bend; marod.a = a twist, a turn; writhing, a bend;

marod.avum = to writhe, to twist, to contort; to bend (G.lex.)

ba_rn.e, ba_ran.e = an offering of food to a demon; a meal after fasting, a breakfast

(Tu.lex.) barada, barda, birada = a vow (G.lex.)

barad.o = spine; backbone; the back; barad.o tha_bad.avo = lit. to strike on the

backbone or back; hence, to encourage; barad.o bha_re thato = lit. to have a painful

backbone, i.e. to do something which will call for a severe beating (G.lex.) a

single vertebra of the back (G.)

bharad.o a devotee of S’iva; a man of the bharad.a_ caste in the (G.) barar.

= name of a caste of jat- around; da_ mela_ = a special fair held in

spring (P.lex.) bhara_d. = a religious service or entertainment performed by a bhara_d.i_;

consisting of singing the praises of some idol or god with playing on the d.aur (drum) and

dancing; an order of at.hara_ akha_d.e = 18 gosa_yi_ group; bhara_d. and bha_rati_ are

two of the 18 orders of gosa_yi_ (M.lex.)

The glyph 'skeleton' may also be explained as rebus: da_kali, da_gali = an anvil (Te.lex.)

d.ha~go = skeleton; lean (Ku.); d.a_n:ga = one who is reduced to a skeleton (Or.);

d.a~_gar, d.a~_gra_ = starveling (H.); d.ha~_kal., d.ha_~ku_l. = old and decaying (M.);

d.ege = old, weak (Wg.)(CDIAL 5524).

Rebus: d.a_n:ro = a term of contempt for a blacksmith (N.)(CDIAL 5524) t.ha_kur =

blacksmith (Mth.); t.ha_kar = landholder (P.)(CDIAL 5488). dha~_gar., dha_~gar = a

non-Aryan tribe in the Vindhyas, digger of wells and tanks (H.); dha_n:gar = young

servant, herdsman, name of a Santal tribe (Or.); dhan:gar = herdsman (H.)(CDIAL

5524). 4064. Blacksmith: t.ha_kur blacksmith (Mth.)(CDIAL 5488). d.ha_n:gar.

herdsman, name of a Santal tribe, young servant (Or.); dha_n:gar.a_ unmarried youth

(Or.); dha~_gad. rude, loutish (M.); f. hoyden (M.)(CDIAL 5524).

Sign 130

d.han:ga = a crook used for pulling down the branches of trees, for goats, sheep and

camels (P.lex.)

m0516At m0516Bt 3398 [Copper tablet; side B perhaps is a

graphemic representation of an antelope; note the ligatured tail comparable to the tail on

m273, b012 and k037] ri_r. high mountain (WPah.)(CDIAL 10749a) rir. = a ridge; sakam

rir. = the mid-rib of a leaf (Santali) buru rir. = the ridge of the hill (Santali.lex.)

The pictograph on m516 B (antelope)

appears on a tin ingot found in Haifa,

Israel. The antelope may be connoted by

ran:ku, deer; ran:ga = tin. Sailing vessel

shown on a stamp seal, Mohenjodaro (after

Potts 1995: Fig. 1)

Stamp seal from Latifia showng a zebu bull (after Wyatt

1983: Fig.1)

The vase was found in level IX of the Sin temple. It carries a

contest scene typical of Mesopotamian prototypes. (Donald

P. Hansen, Erica Ehrenberg, 2002, Leaving no stones

unturned: essays on the ancient Near East and Egypt in

honor of Donald P. Hansen, Eisenbrauns, p.220)

Lipshur litanies state: ÔMelukkha…is the land of carnelian” (Sumerian NA4.GUG,

Akkadian sa_mtu). In the 17th cent. BCE, the Neo-Assyrian king Esarhaddon called

himself, ‘king of the kings of Dilmun, Magan, and Melukkha’. The Sumerian myth Enki

and the World Order has Enki exclaiming: ‘Let the magilum-boats of Melukkha transport

gold and silver for exchange’. Enki and Ninkhursag (lines 1-9, Tr. By B. Alster) has

references to the products of Melukkha: ‘The land Turkish shall transport gold from

Kharali, lapis lazuli, and bright…to you. The land Melukkha shall bring carnelian,

desirable and precious sissoo-wood from Magan, excellent mangroves, on big ships! The

land Markhashi will (bring) precious stones, dus’ia-stones, (to hand) on the breast,

mighty, diorite-stones, u-stones, s’umin-stones to you.’ [The cuneiform characters

meluh-ha should be read with an alternative phonetic value: me-lah-ha. (Parpola et al

1970: 37); me-la_h-ha are a clan from a Sindhi tribe known as Mohaana.]

‘Melukkha’ is cognate with Pali ‘milakkha’ or Sanskrit ‘mleccha’. In Pali, ‘milakkha’ also

means, ‘copper’. In Sanskrit, ‘mleccha-mukha’ means ‘copper’.

An opinion is that during the pre-Harappan and Harappan periods, the main supply of tin

was from the western regions: Khorasan and the area between Bukhara and Samarkand

(Chakrabarti 1979: 61-74). The ancient tin mines in the Kara Dagh District in NW Iran and
in themodern Afghan-Iranian Seistan could have been possible sources. Harappan

metal-smiths used to conserve tin by storing and re-using scarp pieces of bronze, making

low tin alloys and substituting tin by arsenic.

The ore cassiterite yielded tin. Antimony was another alloy with copper to make bronze;
antimony was derived from Caucasian ores. Arsenic was also used as an alloy to yield

Stein collected a few bronzes from Shahi Tump, Mehi, Siah Damb and Segak Mound, all
of which have a high tin percentage... tin was a precious commodity as is evident from
the findings of bronze scraps, stored along with other valuables in copper vessels at both
Harappa and Mohenjodaro (Vats 1940: 381; Marshall 1931: 488). According to Agrawal
(1971: 168) only 14 percent of Harappan tools were alloyed in the optimum range of 8 to
12 percent tin. Furthermore tin bronze is more abundant (23 percent of the tools) in the
upper levels of Mohenjodaro than in the lower levels (6 percent)... Tin deposits known in
India are located in Palampur region of Maharashtra, Dharwar district in Karnataka and
Hazari Bagh District of Bihar (Marshall 1931: 682). Bhilwara in Rajasthan and
Hosainpura in Gujarat are also known to have a limited quantity of tin (Chakrabarti 1979:
70). Outside India, on the western frontier, tin is known to occur in Kuh Banan, Karadagh
and Khorasan (Marshall 1931: 483-484; Vats 1940: 378-82) between Astrabad and Shah
Rud in Iran (Gowland 1912) and between Bukhara and Samarkand in Soviet Central Asia
(Crawford 1974; Masson and Sarianidi 1972: 128)... The main supply of tin may... have
come from the western regions: Khorasan and the area between Bukhara and
Samarkand (Chakrabarti 1979: 70) through sites like Shortugai... Tin was one of the
commodities which the Sumerians got from Meluhha (Leemans 1970; Muhly 1976: 306-
307)... it is possible that tin was basically a trading item which the Harappans were
obtaining from Khorasan and Central Asia for export to Mesopotamia, just as they
obtained lapis lazuli from Badakshan for export there...

Based on the presence of arsenic, nickel and lead in artefacts from Mohenjodaro and
Harappa, Ullah (1940) determined the sources of their copper to have been Khetri,
Alwar, Singhbhum and Afghanistan mines where nickel and arsenic both are supposed
to be present in the copper ores. He held that the Sumerian ores could be distinguished
from Indian ores since the former are virtually free from arsenic (Ullah 1940)... Agrawal's
Table 11 (1971) shows that at Khafaje and Ur, 88 percent of the artefacts contain

...literary sources... sources of silver, including Dilmun, Aratta, Elam, Marhashi and
Meluhha, all of which are to theast or south of Mesopotamia, Sargon of Akkad referred to
a locale in Anatolia as the 'Silver Mountain'...

Gudea notes that from Magan comes bronze and from the land Meluhha are derived
ushu-wood, gold, precious stones and copper. ÔIn the power of Nina and in the power of
Ningirsu for Gudea, to whom a scepter was given by Ningirsu, have Magan, Meluhha,
Gubin, and the land Tilmun, each of which possesses every kind o tree, brought to
Shirpurla ships (laden) with wood for his buildings” (Statue D, iv.2-12). Copper of Dilmun,
Magan and Meluhha is mentioned in a text. (V. Raw. 27A, 25-7; loc.cit. Upenn University
Museum, 1915, Publications of the Babylonian Section, Vol. 10’ Stephen Langdon,
Sumerian epic of paradise, flood and the fall of man, p.8)
Indicative evidences of interactions are: seal impression with the cotton cloth from Umma
(Scheil, V., 1925, Un nouvea sceau hindou pseudo-sumerian, RA, 22/3, 55-56) and
cotton cloth piece stuck to the base of a silver vase from Mohenjodaro (Wheeler 1965).
Babylonian and Greek words for cotton were: sind, sindon. Ivory from Meluhha is
mentioned in the context of ivory bird figurines (Oppenheim 1954: II,15 n.24)

Seal from Failaka. Palm tree. (Kjaerum 1983, no. 162).

Stamp seal. Saar necropolis, Bahrain excavations 1988,

Tumulus 122. Early Dilmun, c. 2000 BCE Chlorite or

steatite 1.2x2.6 cm. Manama, Bahrain National Museum,

Acc. No. 2626-2-90. Alsendi, 1994, no. 134; Stamp seal.

Madinat Hamad necropolis. Bahrain excavations 1987-88,

Tumulus 3. Early Dilmun, c. 2000 BCE. Chlorite or steatite

.8x2.1 cm. Manama, Bahrain National Museum, acc. No.

2720-2-90; Stamp seal. Dar Kulayb necropolis, seson and

grave unspecified. Early Dilmun, c. 2000 BCE. Chlorite or

steatite 1/3x2/2 cm. Manama, Bahrain National Museum, main store. (Source: Harriet

EW Crawford, Michael Rice, 2000, Traces of paradise: the archaeology of Bahrain 2500

BCE to 300 AD – an exhibition at the Brunei Gallery, Bahrain national museum, p. 101)

Stamp seal. Qal’at al-Bahrain, Danish excavations 1965

(520.ALX), Northern city wall. Early Dilmun c. 2000 BCE.

Chlorite or steatite 1.3x2.1 cm. Manama, Bahrain National

Museum, acc. No. 52-2-90; Bibby 1967, fig. 4d. (p.102)

Stamp seal. Ali necropolis. Bahraini

excavations 1981-82. Manama, Bahrain

National Museum, acc. No. 3892-2-

91.10. (p.102)

Meluhha lay to the east of Magan and linked with carnelian and ivory resources. Gujarat

was a carnelian source. Meluhha use magilum boat (Possehl, G., Meluhha in: J. Reade

(ed.), The Indian ocean in antiquity, London, Kegan Paul Intl., 1996, 133-208). Sinda

refers to date palm (cf. Landsberger, Die Welt des Orients 3.261).

ÔThe adaptation of Harappan motifs and script to the Dilmun seal form may be a further

indication of the acculturative phenomenon, one indicated in Mesopotamia by the

adaptation of Harappan traits to the cylinder seal.” (Brunswig et al., 1983, p. 110)

Some inscriptions were used as bills of lading

"The addresses on fragments of clay at Tello prove that sealings were employed on
bundles despatched from city to city (L.W. King: A history of Sumer and Akkad, 1910, pp.

Tilmun, Telmun, Dilmun, the land of the famous red stone

Documents of the Larsa period in Ur were on tablets. Volume UET V includes texts which
deal with Ur as the port of entry for copper into Mesopotamia during the time of the
Dynasty of Larsa. The copper was imported by boat from Telmun. (Tilmun is associated
with the famous red stone, of which Gudea speaks repeatedly as being imported from
Meluhha.) "This 'Telmun-trade' was in the hands of seafaring merchants--called alik
Telmun-- who worked hand in hand with enterprising capitalists in Ur to take garments to
the island in order to buy large quantities of copper there... In our period-- that of the fifth
to seventh king of the Dynasty of Larsa-- the island exported not only copper in ingots but
also copper objects, beads of precious stones, and-- most of all-- ivory... Travels to
Telmun are repeatedly mentioned in a group of tablets whih come patently from the
archives of the temple of the goddess Ningal and list votive offerngs, incoming tithe, etc.
The contexts suggest that returning sailors were wont to offer the deity in gratitude a
share of their goods. In UET V 526 we read of a small amount of gold, copper and copper

utensils characterized as 'tithe of the goddess Ningal from an expedition to Telmun and
(from) single persons having gone (there) on their own', during the first 3 months of the
year. UET V 292... listing of merchandise is more extensie; besides' red' gold, copper,
lapiz lazuli in lumps, various stone beads, ivory-inlaid tables, et., we find also 'fish-eyes'--
perhaps pearls. (The meaing 'pearl' for IGI.HA has been proposed by R.C. Thompson
(1936y: 53, n2) on the basis of UET V... The appearance of rather numerous references
to IGI.HA in Ur and especialy in connection with imports from Tilmun must be considered
an argument in favor of an interpretation which is not based on philological evidence. The
lack of archaeological proof for the use of pearls is of course an important arguent
against the identification but its value is somewhat diminished when one considers that
no ivory object has been found in Ur although the texts report on ivory as raw material as
well as on ivory objects.) ... UET 78, recording ivory combs, eye-paint and certain kinds
of wood, not to mention designations which we fail to understand... UET V 367: '2 mina of
silver (the value of): 5 gur of oil (and of) 30 garments for an expedition to Telmun to buy
(there) copper, (as the) capital for a partnership, L. and N. have borrowed from U. After
safe termination of the voyage, he (the creditor) will not recognize commercial losses
(incurred by the debtor); they (the debtors) hae agree to satisfy U (the creditor) with 4
mina of copper for each shel of silver as a just (price(?)].'.. babtum must denote some
kind of customs or dues imposed on the merchants by the city administration... all extant
Old and Neo-Babylonian contracts on partnership reserve for the tamkarum not only the
invested capital (plus interest) but also an equal share of the profit yielded by the
business venture... The complex legal relationship between the investing and the
travelling merchant has created a number of loan types of which at least two are
mentioned in the Code of Hammurabi. One of them uses the characteric term tadmiqtu.
We encounter this word in the paragraphs 102-103 of the Code and in a few documents
of that period... UET V 428: '5 shekels of silver as a tadmiqtu-loan PN1 has borrowed
from PN2. He will return the silver at a moment (yet) to be determined (?) (This) he has
sworn by the life of the king.' The specific designation of the loans as tadmiqtu 'favor,
kindness' (in Sumerian: 'friendly word') should not, in spite of the obvious

etymology of these terms in both languages, induce us to presume that this business
transaction was not as completely under the sway of the laws of economic life as any
other loan... As to the main object of the Telmun trade, the copper (termed URUDU), we
obtain most of the evidence from the letters (UET V 22,29, 71 and 81) addressed to a
certain, a travelling merchant and importer of Telmun copper. The metal came
in large quantities (UET V 796 mentions more than 13,000 minaz of copper according to
the weight standard of Telmun) and often in ingots termed gubarum which weighed up to
4 talents each (UET V 678). The ingots are sometimes qualified as damqu (UET V 22,81)
as is also the copper itself (UET V 20 wariam la damqam, but wariam dummuqam in UET
V 5 and 6). The quoted passages do not entitle us to speak of refining of copper, because was not a coppersmith but a merchant and because the meaning
of damqum as well asdummuqum as 'good (in quality)' is borned out by such letter
passages as UET V 5:28 or 22: 10-13 ('show him 15 ingots so that he may select
6 damqu ingots' ... UET V 81, lines 33-39: 'I myself gave on account of you 19 talents of
copper to the palace and S'umi-abum gave (likewise) 18 talents of copper, apart from the
sealed document which we both handed over to the temple of Shamash.'... is
supposed to have imported a large copper kettle (UET V 5:25)... UET V 428: '1 mina
of...silver, 1/2 mina of... silver to buy (precious stones), 'fish-eyes' and other merchandise
on an expedition to Telmun, PN2 has borrowed from PN1...'... ivory as raw material (UET
V 546) as well as finished ivory objects have been imported from Telmun. Among the
latter we find exactly the same objects which we know so well from the dowry inventories,
etc. of the Amarna letters: ivory combs (UET V 292, 678), breast plates (UET V 279),
boxes (UET V 795), inlaid pieces of furniture (UET 292) and spoons (UET V 795)...
Southern Mesopotamia had to rely exclusively upon ivory imported from the East, to be
exact: via Telmun... we have from Mohenjodaro actual ivory combs... UET V 82 refers to
the karum as a locality in which business accounts have been settled, which in Old-
Babylonian practice is normally done in the temple of Shamash... A certain Lu-En-li_l-la_
is said in UET III 1689 (Ibbi-Sin, 4th year) to have received large amounts of garments
and wool from the storehouse of the temple of Nanna in order to buy copper in Makkan

(nig.s'am.marudu Ma.gan ki, literally: equivalent for buying copper in M.)... When Sargon
of Agade proudly proclaims (Legrain 1923: 208f., col. v-vi) that ships from or destined for
Meluhha, Makkan and Telmun were moored in the harbor which was situated outside of
his capital, this obviously proves the existence of flourishing commercial relations with
the East... We even know the name of a person, a native of 'Great-Makkan' i.e. Ur-
Nammu (UET III 1193). In the period, Makkan-- 'the country of mines' seems to have
been the only importer of copper... After the collapse of the Dynasty of Ur, Telmun
replaces Makkan in the Eastern trade of the city... Telmun, as against Makkan, seems
never to have completely lost contact with Mesopotamia... Telmun had lost contact with
the mining centers of Makkan and with those regions which supplied it with stone and
timber, etc. some time between the fall of the Dynasty of Larsa and the decline of power
of the Hammurabi Dynasty... It turned again into an island famous only for its agricultural
products, its sweet water, etc. Copper, precious stones, and rare woods have now to
come to Southern Mesopotamia either over the mountain ranges and from the West
along the river routes... Sometime in the second half of the 2nd millennium B.C., Telmun
seems to have come in closer contact with the rulers of Southern Babylonia (Goetze
1952)... We are fortunate indeed to have three letters at our disposal, two written by
Assurbanipal's general Bel-ibni mentioning Hundaru, king of Telmun, and one written by
Assurbanipal and addressed to Hundaru. The details of the dealings of the king of
Telmun in his fight for survival are of little interest in the present context, far more
revealing is the mention of metal (bronze), precious woods and 'kohl' i.e. eye-paint in
these letters. We read of great amounts of kohl, 26 talent of bronze, numerous copper
and bronze objects, of sticks of precious wood as part of the booty taken from Telmun,
while another speaks of the tribute of Telmun mentioning, at the same time, bronze,
perfumes and likewise 'sticks' of precious wood offered by merchants from Bit-Naialu... a
passage of the inscription KAH 122 of Sennacherib which describes the tools of the crew
of corvee-workers sent from Telmun to Babylon to assist the Assyrian king to tear down
the city. Their tools are characterized as follows: 'bronze spades and bronze pikes, tools
which are the (characteristic) product of their (native) country.' Thus, it becomes evident

that Telmun has again access to the copper mines of Makkan, to the spices, perfumes
and rare woods of the East... Assurbanipal's inscription in the temple of Ishtar in Niniveh
mentions another island-- beyond Telmun--: '[x-y]-i-lum, king of the [ ]-people who
resides in Hazmani which is an island alongside Telmun' whose messengers had to
travel a long way across the sea and overland to Assyria. " (A.Leo Oppenheim, The
Seafaring Merchants of Ur, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 74, 1954, pp.

Many scholars have noted the contacts between the Mesopotamian and Sarasvati
Sindhu (Indus) Civilizations, in terms of cultural history, chronology, artefacts (beads,
jewellery), pottery and seals found from archaeological sites in the two areas.

"...the four examples of round seals found in Mohenjodaro show well-supported

sequences, whereas the three from Mesopotamia show sequences of signs not
paralleled elsewhere in the Indus Script. But the ordinary square seals found in
Mesopotamia show the normal Mohenjodaro sequences. In other words, the
square seals are in the Indian language, and were probably imported in the course
of trade; while the circular seals, although in the Indus script, are in a different
language, and were probably manufactured in Mesopotamia for a Sumerian- or
Semitic-speaking person of Indian descent..." [G.R. Hunter,1932. Mohenjodaro--
Indus Epigraphy, JRAS: 466-503]

The acculturation of Meluhhans (probably, Indus people) residing in Mesopotamia in the

late third and early second millennium BC, is noted by their adoption of Sumerian names
(Parpola, Parpola and Brunswig 1977: 155-159). "The adaptation of Harappan motifs
and script to the Dilmun seal form may be a further indication of the acculturative
phenomenon, one indicated in Mesopotamia by the adaptation of Harappan traits to the
cylinder seal." (Brunswig et al, 1983, p. 110).

After: Robert H. Brunswig, Jr., Asko Parpola, and Daniel Potts

9908. Iraq museum; glazed steatite; perhaps from an

Iraqi site; the one-horned bull, the

standard are below a six-sign



Nippur; ca. 13th cent. BC; white

stone; zebu bull and two pictograms.

9851; Louvre

Museum; Luristan;

unglazed, gray steatite;

short-honed bull and 4


Foroughi collection; Luristan; medium gray steatite; bull,

crescent, star and net square; of the Dilmun seal type.

3255; Louvre Museum; Luristan; light

yellow stone; seal impression; one side shows

four eagles; the eagles hold snakes in their

beaks; at the center is a human figure with

outstretched limbs; obverse of the seal shows an

animal, perhaps a hyena or boar striding across

the field, with a smaller animal of the same type

depicted above it; comparable to the seal found in Harappa, Vats 1940, II: Pl. XCI.255.

9701; Failaka; unglazed

steatite; an arc of four pictograms

above the hindquarter of a bull.






brownish-grey unglazed

steatite; Indus pictograms

above a short-horned bull.

9602; seal, impression;

Qala'at al-Bahrain; green steatite; short-horned bull and five

pictograms. Found in association with an Isin- Larsa type

tablet bearing three Amorite names.

9601; Qala'at al-Bahrain; light-grey

steatite; hindquarters of a bull and two


Seal impression; Dept. of Antiquities, Bahrain; three

Harapan-style bulls;

Qala'at al-Bahrain; ca. 2050-

1900 BC; tablet, found in the same

level where 8 Dilmun seals and six

Harappan type weights were found. Three Amorite names are: Janbi-naim; Ila-milkum;

Jis.i-tambu (son of Janbi-naim)

Two seals from Gonur 1 in the Murghab delta; dark brown stone (Sarianidi 1981 b:

232-233, Fig. 7, 8); eagle engraced on one face.

[Robert H. Brunswig, Jr. et al, New Indus Type

and Related Seals from the Near East, 101-
115 in: Daniel T. Potts (ed.), Dilmun: New
Studies in the Archaeology and Early History
of Bahrain, Berlin, Dietrich Reimer Verlag,
1983; each seal is referenced by a four-digit number which is registered in the Finnish

Massimo Vidale summarises the present state of knowledge about Meluhhan

interactions in Persian Gulf and Mesopotamia:

(Massimo Vidale, 2001, Growing in a foreign world: for a history of the ‘Meluhha
villages’ in Mesopotamia in the 3rd millennium BCE, A. Panaino and A. Piras
(eds.), Proceedings of the Fourth Annual symposium of the Assyrian and
Babylonian intellectual heritage project, held in Ravenna, Italy, Oct. 13-17, 2001,
pp. 261-280)

Ô… the textual evidence dealing with individuals qualified as Ômen” or Ôsons” of

Meluhha or called with the ethnonym Meluhha, living in Mesopotamia and of a
ÔMeluhha village” established at Lagash (and presumably at other major cities as
well) unexcapably points to the existence of enclaves settled by Indian immigrants
(see Parpola et al. 1977; Possehl 1984: 185; for the original debate Lamberg-
Karlovsky 1972)…This (Parpola) review of the texts then available containing
references to Meluhha and Meluhhans was focused on 9 texts dating to Ur III

times, but also included references to Sargonic texts. The general picture in this
paper is the following. The maximum archaeological evidence of Indian imports
and Indus-related artefacts in Mesopotamia may be dated to latest phases of ED
III (at the Royal Cemetery of Ur) and immediately later to the Akkadian period,
when, as widely reported, Sargon claimed with pride that under his power
Meluhhan ships docked at his capital, and at least one tablet mentions a person
with an Akkadian name qualified as a Ôthe holder of a Meluhha ship” …it is widely
known that, according to the literary sources, between the end of the 3rd and the
beginning of the 2nd millennium BC Meluhhan ships exported to Mesopotamia
precious goods among which exotic animals, such as dogs, perhaps peacocks,
cocks, bovids, elephants (?Collon 1977) precious woods and royal furniture,
precious stones such as carnelian, agate and lapislazuli, and metals like gold,
silver and tin (among others Pettinato 1972; During Caspers 1971; Chakrabarti
1982, 1990; Tosi 1991; see also Lahiri 1992 and Potts 1994). In his famous
inscriptions, Gudea, in the second half of the 22nd century BC, states that
Meluhhans came with wood and other raw materials for the construction of the
main temple in Lagash (see Parpola et al. 1977: 131 for references).
Archaeologically, the most evident raw materials imported from India are marine
shell, used for costly containers and lamps, inlay works and cylinder seals; agate,
carnelian and quite possibly ivory. Hard green stones, including garnets and
abrasives might also have been imported from the Subcontinent and eastern Iran
(Vidale & Bianchetti 1997, 1998-1999; Heimpel et al. 1988; Vidale 2002; see also
Collon 1990, Tallon 1995 and Sax 1991). Carnelian could have been imported in
form of raw nodules of large size (as implied by some texts) to be transformed into
long beads, or as finished products. As we shall see, recent studies would better
suggest that the Indus families in Mesopotamia imported raw materials rather than
finished beads (Kenoyer 1997; Kenoyer & Vidale 1992; Inizan 2000), and
expediently adapted their production to the changing needs of the Mesopotamian
demand and markets. To the same period is ascribed a famous cylinder seal

owned by a certain Su-ilisu, ÔMeluhha interpreter” (Sollberger 1970; Tosi 1991).
Another Akkadian text records that Lu-sunzida Ôa man of Meluhha”
paid to the servant Urur, son of AmarluKU 10 shekels of silver as a payment for a
tooth broken in a clash. The name Lu-sunzida literally means ÔMan of the just
buffalo cow,” a name that, although rendered in Sumerian, according to the
authors does not make sense in the Mesopotamian cultural sphere, and must be
atranslation of an Indian name… By Ur III times, this intense trade had definitely
promoted the formation of local enclaves of Indus origin. Although no written
evidence suggests a direct involvement of the Lagash settlement with trade and
craft production, Parpola et al. (1977: 145) think that the ethnic name points to a
settlement originally founded as a trade enclave by foreign merchants. The texts
indicate that Meluhhans were perceived as distinct ethnic group, living in a
separate settlement but largely integrated in the contemporary Sumerian society,
owning or renting land and accumulating and variously distributing their
agricultural products… In some Sumerian cities, such as Ur, so far excavation
brought to light only such round seals with Indus inscriptions, while at Kish and
Umma circulated standard square Indus seals and their sealings (see Gadd 1932,
Chakrabarti 1990 and Parpola 1984 for reviews)…In contemporary Gujarat,
carnelian, a form of agate that in nature has a distinctive dull olive-brown colour, is
turned red artificially in special ceramic containers and kilns. The most important
mines are still exploited in Gujarat, and the production of high quality carnelian
remained for 5000 years a craft specialization of the Subcontinent, particularly in
the north-western regions of Gujarat and Sindh (Kenoyer et al. 1991, 1994). There
is little wonder that carnelian is quoted by the ancient texts as an important article
of Indo- Mesopotamian trade of the 3rd and early 2nd millennium BC. Many of the
carnelian beads found in the graves of the main Sumerian cities or at Susa in the
second half of the 3rd millennium BC are presently interpreted as made locally by
Indus craftpersons or artisans trained in an Indus technical tradition… The second
type of carnelian bead is commonly defined Ôetched carnelian beads” (Beck

1933; Dikshit 1949; During Caspers 1971, 1982; Reade 1979; Lombardo 1988)
(Figs. 3, 4; Fig. 5, below). They are much smaller beads, manufactured with quite
simpler techniques, but embellished by white designs (more rarely black or purple)
traced on their surface. Such designs were chemically carved on the beads’
surfaces by a pyrotechnological process involving the use of alcaline juices and
further cycles of high temperature heating (Mackay 1933, 1937; Bhan et al. 1994;
Vidale 2000)… Sumerians and Akkadian interacted more with Dilmun sailors and
traders, Indian immigrants and largely acculturated social groups than with the
remote ÔBlack Country” of Meluhha. In Mesopotamia and in the Gulf, the
immigrant Indus families maintained and trasmitted their language, the writing
system and system of weights of the motherland (known in Mesopotamia as the
ÔDilmunite” standard) as strategic tools of trade. Ô

1. Steatite seals with the image of the short-horned bulls with lowered head from
Failaka (1), Bahrein (2-3), Bactria (4), the Iranian Plateau (5). Nr. 6 comes from
the surface of the site of Diqdiqqah, near Ur. Not in scale.
2. Distribution of inscribed finds with Indus signs in Mesopotamia, in the Iranian
Plateau and in the Gulf (from Parpola 1994).
3. Etched Carnelian Beads found in Mesopotamia and the Iranian Plateau. F1y,
second row from below, right, bears the symbol of the Akkadian sun-god
Shamash: it was evidenty manufactured by a Meluhhan beadmaker for a local
Mesopotamian market or demand (from Reade 1979).
4. Distribution of etched carnelian beads from the Indus valley to the
Mediterranean coast (from Reade 1979).
5. Long barrel-shaped carnelian beads from Chanhu-Daro and Mohenjo-Daro
(Sindh, Pakistan) (upper row, left) and reconstruction of the drilling technique, with
lithic drill-heads (upper row, right: from Mackay 1938, 1943 and Kenoyer 1997).
Similar beads were manufactured and traded in late ED III Mesopotamia. The

longest examples of these highly refined beads reach 13 cm. Lower row:
examples of etched carnelian beads found in the Indus valley, to be compared
with those found in Mesopotamia, common in early and middle Akkadian times.


ÔThe favored seal of the Gulf, excluding the Oman Peninsula, where the practice of
sealing was never widespread, was a round stamp seal with a raised, pierced back knob,
or boss. The earliest group (ca. 2100 B.C.) is known as "Persian Gulf" seals. They are
normally made of soft stone and are characterized by a high boss, always pierced
horizontally for suspension. Normally the boss bears a single groove across the upper
surface, but it sometimes has two. The sealing surface shows only animals or abstract
natural motifs, never humans, and in general the workmanship is rather crude. These
gave way in the very late third or early second millennium B.C. to "Dilmun" seals, which
now frequently show human beings, as well as fantastic animal protomes, particularly of
gazelles. Gulf seals have been found in Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley, and some
"Dilmun" seals were influenced by the respective region's iconography. The seals were
presumably used in the extensive trade and commercial connections between the
different regions linked by the waters of the Gulf and Arabian Sea. ” Stamp seal with humans
drinking, ca. 2000–1800 B.C.; Early Dilmun. Gulf region,
Failaka, Tell Sa'id, F5, trench Q, ALL. Steatite; Diam. 6.5
cm (2 1/2 in.); Thickness 3 cm (1 1/8 in.). National Council
for Culture, Arts, and Letters, Kuwait National Museum.
Dilmun seals, like this example, display a wealth of imagery
that combines local with foreign decorative elements. The
local adaptations include typical third millennium B.C.
Mesopotamian imagery centered on male figures in a rich
repertoire of activities, including drinking or banquet scenes. They manifest a close
contact between the two regions and may signify a shared spiritual affinity. Here a high
square-net podium on which a small jar is placed separates two antithethic seated
figures. The figure on the right is drinking from a long straw that dips into a jar
comparable in size to the one on the podium. The drinking scenes may have had
propitious significance for the local Dilmunite seal owner.

Stamp seal with a seated
figure, animals, and
landscape (left) and
impression (right), mid-to-
late 3rd millennium B.C.
Eastern Iran. Lapis lazuli;
W. 4 cm (1 5/8 in.); L. 3.1 cm (1 1/4 in.); Thickness 2.5 cm
(1 in.). Trustees of The British Museum, London BM 1992-10-7, 1. This stamp seal, with
a wide perforated handle at the back, was originally almost square but, because of
damage, the bottom corners are missing. Formerly two figures faced each other. Only
the face, one shoulder, and one arm survive of the figure on the left (of the impression).
The arm is raised and holds a tall cup. On the right is a man shown frontally with head in
profile, a prominent nose and long hair hanging down his back with one lock falling
beside the face. His legs are folded beneath him and covered with a skirt while his
forearms lie parallel to his legs with his hands held palm to palm beneath his chest.
Between the figures is a large drill hole. Above this is a horizontal line with short vertical
strokes extending from it and four rows of semicircular notches. This may represent a
fenced enclosure or clouds and rain. To the right is a tadpole-like creature. On the right
side of the seal a goat faces left with long horns, a triple zigzag beard, and a short tail.
Below and facing right is a zebu with horns shown frontally and a tail raised over its back.
The scene can be related to imagery found on a copper "standard" from Shahdad in
southeastern Iran, "Intercultural Style" vessels, as well as seals from the Harappan
civilization. Comparisons with this material suggest that the seal originates from within
the culture of southeastern Iran. During most of the third millennium B.C. western Iran
was largely under Mesopotamian domination. The majority of seals are often hard to
differentiate from the Early Dynastic, Akkadian, and Ur III glyptic of Mesopotamia.
Occasionally, seals are marked by stylistic and iconographic peculiarities that lead us to
recognize them as having been made in Elam (southwestern Iran). A different
phenomenon is illustrated by the presence at Susa of a few seals from Bactria and the

Gulf Region. These seals had very little influence on Elamite glyptic and appear as a
result of commercial exchange. The compartmented seals are widely distributed
throughout Iran although the overwhelming majority comes from western Central
Compartmented stamp seal with winged goddess on a dragon, late 3rd–early 2nd
millennium B.C. Western Central Asia, Gonur-depe, Tomb 570. Silver. The National
Museum of Turkmenistan Named After Saparmurat Turkmenbashi, Ashgabat. This seal
depicts a female figure wearing a tufted full-length robe. This image is well known in the
art of western Central Asia. However, here the female is shown with wings, suggesting
that we are looking at a deity. This might relate the figure to the image of the
Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar who is shown with
outstretched wings from the Akkadian period onward.
This female is shown with her face in profile looking to
the right, and she sits sidesaddle on a scaly dragon
facing backward. The dragon has its tail curling up
toward its rider. The monster's tail and front paws
cross the frame of the seal, and its mouth is open in a
snarl. On this seal the deity wears a full-length tufted
robe. The knob rising out of the seal was presumably
used for holding the seal while making impressions. From the mid-third millennium B.C.
a tradition of metal compartmented stamp seals emerged, as well as stone stamp seals
of different shapes and stone cylinder seals decorated with geometric, floral, or
representational patterns. The compartmented seals were cast, probably by the lost wax
method, most commonly in a copper alloy, although examples are known in silver and,
rarely, even in gold. They are flat and have square, round, or even figural outlines; their
backs are either open or closed, with a geometric or representational design created by
perpendicular strips of metal forming the compartments from which their name derives.
The back, rarely decorated with relief or incisions, always has, in the middle, a triangular
or squarish suspension loop. The compartmented seals are widely distributed throughout

Iran although the overwhelming majority comes from western Central

A masterpiece of glyptic art

This seal, which belonged to Ibni-Sharrum, the scribe of King Sharkali-Sharri, who
succeeded his father Naram-Sin, is one of the most striking examples of the perfection
attained by carvers in the Agade period. The two naked, curly-headed heroes are
arranged symmetrically, half-kneeling. They are both holding vases from which water is
gushing as a symbol of fertility and abundance; it is also the attribute of the god of the
river, Enki-Ea, of whom these spirits of running water are indeed the acolytes. Two arni,
or water buffaloes, have just drunk from them. Below the scene, a river winds between
the mountains represented conventionally by a pattern of two lines of scales. The central
cartouche bearing an inscription is held between the buffaloes' horns.

A scene testifying to relations with distant lands

Buffaloes are emblematic animals in glyptic art in the Agade period. They first appear in

the reign of Sargon, indicating sustained relations between the Akkadian Empire and the
distant country of Meluhha, that is, the present Indus Valley, where these animals come
from. These exotic creatures were probably kept in zoos and do not seem to have been
acclimatized in Iraq at the end of the 3rd millennium BC. Indeed, it was not until the
Sassanid Empire that they reappeared. The engraver has carefully accentuated the
animals' powerful muscles and spectacular horns, which are shown as if seen from
above, as they appear on the seals of the Indus.

The production of a royal workshop

The calm balance of the composition, based on horizontal and vertical lines, gives this
tiny low relief a classical monumental character, typical of the style of the late Akkadian
period. Seals of this quality were the preserve of the entourage of the royal family or high
dignitaries and were probably made in a workshop whose production was reserved for
this elite.

Cylinder seal of Ibni-sharrum, a scribe of Shar-kali-sharri (left) and impression (right), ca.

2183–2159 B.C.; Akkadian, reign of Shar-kali-sharri. Mesopotamia. Cuneiform

inscription in Old Akkadian. Serpentine; H. 3.9 cm (1 1/2 in.); Diam. 2.6 cm (1 in.). Musée

du Louvre, Département des Antiquités Orientales, Paris AO 22303. This seal, which

according to the cuneiform inscription belonged to Ibni-sharrum, the scribe of king Shar-

kali-sharri, is one of the finest examples of the perfection achieved by the engravers of

the Akkadian period. Two nude heroes with long curls are represented kneeling on one

knee in a strictly symmetrical composition. Each of them holds a vase with water gushing

forth, a symbol of fertility and abundance; two water buffalo are drinking from them.

Underneath, a river winds its way between the mountains, represented in a conventional

manner by a motif composed of two lines of scales. In the center of the composition, the

text panel containing the inscription is supported on the backs of the buffalo. These

animals are evidence of the relations existing between the Akkadian Empire and the

region of Meluhha, identified with the Indus Valley, where they originated. The engraver

carefully detailed their powerful musculature and their spectacular horns, which he

depicted as they appear on Indus seals in a view from above. The calm equilibrium of the

composition, based on horizontal and vertical lines, confers on this minuscule relief a

monumentality entirely characteristic of the late Akkadian period style. Seals of this

quality were the monopoly of relatives of the royal family or of high officials, and probably

came from a workshop, where production was reserved for these elite


Cylinder seal with humans and animals (left) and impression (right), ca. 3300–2900 B.C.;

Late Uruk–Jamdat Nasr. Mesopotamia. Magnetite and copper; H. 8.5 cm (3 3/8 in.);

Diam. 4.8 cm (1 7/8 in.). Visitors of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford AN 1964.744.

During the Uruk period, cylinder seals and their ancient

impressions on administrative documents and locking devices are
our richest source for a range of meaningful subject matters. In
Mesopotamia events were believed to be determined by the gods
whose care and feeding were the responsibility of the paramount
figure of Uruk society, the "priest-king." The magnificent seal
depicts in two registers the vital process of the procreation of the
herd. On the lower register, the theme of animal abundance is continued through
the repetition of four reed enclosures that served as birthing places for the young

The identity of the god responsible for them is conveyed through the use of a
symbol emerging from the top of the hut. In a similar manner, the important by-
product of birthing, the production of milk, is also signified by the jars placed inside
the huts. In the upper register, overlapping bovines walk to the right.

This is one of the rare examples of overlapping in the arts of the Uruk period, and it
certainly was intentionally meant to capture the impression of unlimited number.
Additionally, the overlapping creates the impression that the animals are indeed
moving and twisting their bodies. Cylinder seals were invented around 3500 B.C. in
southern Mesopotamia or southwestern Iran, and were used as an administrative
tool, as jewelry and as magical amulets. They largely, though not completely,
replaced stamp seals, which had been used in parts of Mesopotamia from around
7000 B.C. The use of cylinder seals was linked to the invention of cuneiform writing
on clay, and when this spread to other areas of the Near East, the use of cylinder
seals spread, too. They are small cylinders, generally made of stone and pierced
through from end to end so that they could be worn on a string or pin. The surface of
the cylinder was carved in intaglio (cut into the stone) with a design so that when
rolled on clay the cylinder would leave a continuous impression of the design,
reversed and in relief. The shape and size of cylinder seals, the type of material
used, and the designs carved into the surface varied according to period and area.
Many ancient clay seal impressions (sealings) have survived on tablets and small
pieces of clay applied to doors and containers, including jars, baskets, sacks,
leather bags, and wooden boxes. However, these are often incomplete. The
designs on the many thousands of surviving cylinder seals are best studied from
modern impressions or rollings of the seals on clay or some other soft material. It is
these modern impressions that are here shown alongside the ancient cylinder

It is a general view that style and decoration on seals
are forms of communication in a society (Conkey &
Hastorf 1990). The information conveyed may relate
to ownership, identity or status or interests of that
society. Seal impressions found on sealings may
indicate administrative practices related to distribution
of goods (seals used as tokens to authorize
transactions). Gadd had reported on Gulf seals found
in the Royal cemetery at Ur (Gadd, CJ, 1932, Seals of
ancient Indian style found at Ur, Proceedings of the
British Academy 18, pp. 3-22). Poul Kjaerum had
collected almost five hundred seals from the island of
Failaka (Kuwait bay), which was part of Dilmun ca. 2nd
millennium BCE. Many seals, mostly made of steatite
or soft-stone, are perforated for suspension.

ÔAbsolute dates

for the use of these seals are again

mainly provided by the sequence at
Qala’at al-Bahrain. The two seals
associated with Umm-an-Nar
pottery at Yahya and at Abraq
strengthen the case for suggesting
that the Persian Gulf seals do pre-
date the Early Dilmun style ones,

and that they are first found in the late third millennium BCE levels, although they would
appear to continue in use alongside the later styles…Seals are found until the end of City
IIc and this suggests a minimum span for the existence of the Persian Gulf and Early
Dilmun style seals of around 300 and a maximum of 400 years, in absolute terms from
about 2200-1800 BCE…we can also speculate that the very distinctive sub-group of
Persian Gulf seals with Indus Valley signs on them may well represent the product of a
specialized workshop whose location is unknown…A total of ninety-five seals and
fragments of seals have been recovered from Saar, all of them of Persian Gulf, Proto-
Dilmun, or Early Dilmun Style I types…More than two hundred and twenty sealings or
fragments of sealings have been registered…Most of the sealings are made of good
quality fine clay, which takes a clear impression…one seal from Saar (4139:01) shows a
schematic human figure of indeterminate sex with arms and legs wide apart…Many seals
sown an elegant horned animal, which may represent a gazelle.” (pp. 19-20) See gazelle
motif (1580:01). The bull predominates in Failaka seals. Other creatures include
scorpions, snakes, turtles, fish, birds with long necks, a monkey or mongoose-like
creature and composite monsters often with horns and clawed feet. ÔIt has been
suggested in the past that the scenes on the Early Dilmun style seals frequently
represent cultic and mythological themes, and while this is undoubtedly true in some
cases, the wide distribution of seals across society and the bewildering variety of designs
encourage us to look for more prosaic explanations too. Some seals may represent
motifs with particular relevance to the person to whom the seal belonged, the hunter with
his prey, for example, while others may be references to or visual puns on the name of
the owner of his profession, in much the same way as coats of arms or armorial bearings
are created today to reflect the character or interests of the bearer…groups of closely
related designs…We can tentatively suggest that these belonged to members of the
same family or professional group…may represent the products of individual craftsmen
or workshops as all seem to be broadly contemporary…In one instance, on seal 3302:01,
the main figure has ridiculously elongated legs, and the workshop may be referred to as
the Spiderman workshop.” (p. 26)

’Spiderman’ workshop (2070:05)

Ô…one sub-group of Persian Gulf seals, and seals from the Indus Valley…it sometimes
shows the typical Indus bull, and may be decorated with characters from the Indus script.
In shape however, it fits neatly into the Persian Gulf category. Sometimes the script is
used as in the Indus Valey itself, but sometimes it seems to record names or words in a
language which is not the same as that used in the Indus Valley (Brunswig, R.H.,
Parpola, A., and Potts, D.T., 1983, New Indus type and related seals from the Near East,
Berliner Beitrage zum vorderen Orient, Band 2, pp. 101-115). It has been suggested that
this group was made in Dilmun perhaps for use by merchants trading with the Indus
Valley. It is still not possible to say whether these Indus-related seals are the earliest
seals found in the region, so suggesting an Indus progenitor for all Dilmun seals. The
stratigraphic evidence is simply not precise enough to allow us to say whether they are
earlier or later than other Persian Gulf seals. The sequence from Qala’at al-Bahrain is, as
we have seen, the best stratigraphic evidence available, but here both Persian Gulf and
Indus Valley related seals appear together in City IIa (Table 1, and Kjaerum, P., 1994,
Stamp seals. In Hojlund, F., and Anderson H. (eds.), 1994, pp.319-350)…The question of
whether all Persian gulf seals derive from Harappan originals can still not be answered; it
remains possible that Persian Gulff seals represent a pre-existing local tradition which
then adapted certain foreign traits to its own requirements…square polished weights
which also originate in the Indus Valley (Hojlund, F. and Andersen, H. 1994, Qala’at al-
Bahrain I. The northern city wall and the Islamic fortress, Jutland Archaeological Society
Publications XXX.1. Aarhus, p. 118).” (p.28)

ÔA large number of different but related functions have been suggested for seals and the
impressions they make. All the functions relate to the central idea that the design on the
seal is specific to its owner and is unique. The owner does not have to be an individual, it
can be an institution, a government department or a business, so that in some cases the
seal becomes a badge of office as well as an identification. The design on a seal conveys
this identification to the initiated observer and that information can be interpreted in a
number of different ways, depending on how the seal is being used; it can simply indicate
ownership when impressed on a package, or it can show acceptance of the terms and
conditions laid down in a document, much as a signature does; it can guarantee a
transaction or validate it as an official stamp does today; it may even effectively as a
trademark, indicating the manufacture of a commodity. Further possible functions are
amuletic and decorative…The evidence for the way the seals were used at Saar comes
mainly from the marks on the backs of the impressions…Two roughly oval flat tags were
found, which are marked by two seals, and which were originally attached to a string,
probably used tto secure a package…”(p.32)

Tag impressed with two different seals (2570:11; 2.2x3.2cm)


Ibex with its head turned back shown on Gulf seals. Conch-shell seal, Dwaraka.

Stmp seal, large ibex walking left. Black steatite or chlorite, North Syria or
Anatolia, 4th millennium BC, 1 rectangular gabled stamp seal, 4,7x5,1x1,3
cm, pierced through. Provenance: 1. Erlenmeyer Collection, Basel (before
1958-1981); 2. The Erlenmeyer Foundation, Basel (1981-1997); 3. Sotheby's
12.6.1997:8. kallan mason (Ma.); kalla glass beads (Ma.); kalu stone
(Kond.a); xal id., boulder (Br.)(DEDR 1298). kala stag, buck (Ma.); kal a.r. Nilgiri ibex
(Ko.); kalai stag, buck, male black monkey (Ta.); kalan:kompu stag’s horn (Ta.)(DEDR

Three caprids. Tepe Yahya. Cylinder seal

reconstructed from seven fragments. To the left of
this pair is a third caprid rampant with head turned
back whose horns are viewed frontally rather than in profile. Beneath the belly of each
animal is a four-sided cross. There are 9 fragments of clay slab wall sealings. Wall
plaster is preserved on the reverse of most fragments. Seal is carefully rolled along
horizontal axis of sealing. Lamberg-Karlovsky 1971: pls. 4, 5; cf. Fig. 10.27 in Pittman,
2001, opcit.
Two caprids with heads turned back rampant against a stepped platform (mountain)
surmounted by a tree.

– Substantive: med.o merchant’ clerk (Hem.Dec.); mehto a schoolmaster, an

accountant, a clerk, a writer (G.)
Glyph: med.ho a ram, a sheep (G.); mid.hia_o (Dh.Des.); men.d.h, men.d.
a ram (Skt.); medhya a goat; fr. medh a sacrifice (Skt.) mr..eka = goat (Te.);
mlekh (Br.) mer.h, mer.ha_, me~d.ha_ ram (H.), med.hia_o (Dh.Des.) ram,
goat, sheep (G) mid.iyo = having horns bent over forehead (G.)(CDIAL
10120). me~r.a_, me~d.a_ = ram with curling horns (H.)(CDIAL 10120). = goat (Ta.lex.) [cf. the pictorial motif of antelope with head turned

backwards]. merom me~t = the goat’s eye (Santali.lex.) mes.a = ram (RV
8.2.40) = a goat; jel = the hind of the ravine deer, gazella
bennettii; (Santali)

mer.go = with horns twisted back; mer.ha, m., mir.hi f.= twisted, crumpled,
as a horn (Santali.lex.)

mer.hao = to entwine itself, wind round, wrap around, roll up (Santali.lex.)

[Note the endless knot motif].

– ḍhompo = knot on a string (Santali) ḍhompo = ingot (Santali)

h702At h702Bt 4601 m0271 Goat-antelope with horn

Composites, pictorial nature of the Indus script writing system

M1169a, m1170,


san:gaḍi = joined animals (M.) Rebus: sanghāḍo (G.) = cutting stone, gilding;
san:gatarāśū = stone cutter; san:gatarāśi = stone-cutting; san:gsāru karan.u = to stone
(S.), can:katam = to scrape (Ta.), san:kaḍa (Tu.), san:kaṭam = to scrape (Skt.)

(Encylopaedia Iranica)

A monumental
seal recovered
from Bahrain
(Figure 9.8 in:
Michael Rice, 1994, The archaeology
of the Arabian Gulf, c. 5000 to 323
BCE, Routledge) Fig. 8.12 Two oryx in confrontation, with two figures and beneath them,
holding hands; the Hili tomb. (Michael Rice, opcit., p. 245).

(Michael Rice, opcit., p.267)

A bull-man standing on a square podium grasps a

bucranium in his hands; two

antelopes, with their heads turned back,
stand on either side (Kjaerum 93).

A nude man, flanked by two fowls, above the back of a bull,

graspin one of its horns. A crescent-topped staff before the
bull; a horizontal branch with two circles above and below
the stem (Kjaerum 228).

A bull stands at the lower

register; a ‘monster’ with
claws and three-fingered
hands above it.A divinity sits on a
square stool, reaching out
towards a nude man. Behind the
bull, an antelope; beneath it a
hatched podium (Kjaerum 274).

Two bull-men facing each other, reaching out towards a

crescent, standing raised on a hatched podium. Two horned

beasts stand below the bull-men, horned serpents behind them (Kjaerum 143).

At the base, two bull-men on a hatched podium hold a

standard; behind each of them is a rosette, like the rosette
in the centre of the seal. To the right and left of the central
rosette are two bulls, each with a
monkey standing on its back, both
transping a horn. Above the central
rosette is an offering table from which
two acrobats hang, turned on their backs. Is this analogous to a bull-leaping sequence
over the bull’s back? (Kjaerum 43).

Two bulls stand with a man facing one of them and a

smaller figure (a monkey?) grasping the horn of the other
(Kjaerum 242).

A bull stands in the base of the

seal, flanked by a rearing
caprid and a snake. Above the
bull a male figure is shown
leaping (Kjaerum 232).

Three bulls stand ranged

one behind the other. A
bull-man with a high head-
dress grasps one of them.
Two small personages

crouch before two of the bulls, one holding the horn of

one of the animals (Kjaerum 249).

Kuwait-Failaka island. Many of the domed, circular stamp seals from Failaka (as from
Bahrain) include references to bulls and to bull-men. A seated man plays a lyre, with
three strings, in the shape of a small bull, standing on the back of a larger one, before
whom stands a man wit a hammer or axe raised above its head. A fowl, podium, a branch
and a crescent with a sun-disc can be seen (Kjaerum 267).

Source: Michael Rice, 1998, The power of the bull, London, Routledge

Bahrain. Two bull-men standing before a

podium. They raised a horned altar or table,
which is surmounted by a crescent and sun-
disc. Alsendi 1994, No. 115

Dilmun is a trading post on the 'Lower

Sea'. In Mesopotamian mythology, Dilmun is
the land of immortality, a favourite meeting
place of the gods, which was visited by the
hero Gilgamesh in his search for everlasting
life. Inscriptions indicate that the ancestors of
the Sumerians came from Dilmun, and it was here that they learnt the art of writing. We
agree with S.N.Kramer's observations identifying Dilmun with the Sarasvati-Sindhu
(Indus) valley. The God Enki is said to have given his son Inzak dominion over Dilmun.
On the Lagash tablet (ca. 2520 BC) is recorded: "The ships of Dilmun from the foreign
lands brought me woods". A document of ca. 1800 BC refers to an expedition "to Dilmun
to buy copper there'. Sargon of Assyria (710 BC) notes that "he had received presents
from the King of Dilmun, a land which lies like a fish, 60 hours away in the midst of the
sea of the rising sun".

An Assurbanipal clay cylinder states: Dilmun ki s'a qabal ta_mtim s'apli_t (Dilmun is in
the midst of the lower sea) (D.D. Luckenbill, Ancient Records of Assyria, ARAB, II 970. A

Ungnad, ZA 31 (1917): 34, 1.9. That Dilmun was a continental coastland may be
surmised from Sargon II's great Display inscription: bi_t-ia-kin s'a kis'a_d na_r marrati adi
pa_t Dilmun (Bi_t-Iakin which (extends) from the bank of the brackish river to the border
of Dilmun)(Luckenbill, ARAB, 54 = 82 =99). Sargon II's inscription states: Upe_ri s'ar
Dilmun s'a ma_la_k 30 be_ru ina qabal ta_mtim s'a nipih s'ams'i ki_ma nu_ni s'itkunu
narbasu (Upe_ri, king of Dilmun, whose resting place is 30 double hours away like a fish
in the midst of the ocean of the rising sun)(Luckenbill, ARAB, 41,70). During the reign of
Sargon of Assyria, Dilmun and Magan are stated to be "on the farther side of the lower
sea" and there is also a reference to the " sea of Magan" (J.Muhly, Copper and Tin, p.
226; W.F. Leeman, Foreign Trade, p. 81, n.11; M. Weitemeyer, Acta Orientalia, 27
(1964): 207; E. Weidner, AfO, 16 (1953): 5, 1.42). The timber for the boats in Bahrain
always came from India. The name of the Meluhha-boat is magilum (Enki and the World
Order 128).[Boats which plied on the Sindhu river are called mohanna.]

"The Ninevite Gigamesh Epic, composed probably at the end of the second millennium
BC, has Utnapishtim settled "at the mouth of the rivers", taken by all commentators to be
identical with Dilmun." (W.F.Albright, The Mouth of the Rivers, AJSL, 35 (1919): 161-

The mouth of the rivers may relate to the Rann of Kutch/Saurashtra lying at the mouth of
the Sindhu and Sarasvati rivers. In the Sumerian mythEnki and Ninhursag, which
recounts a Golden Age, paradise is described: "The crow screams not, the dar-bird cries
not dar, the lion kills not... the ferry-man says not 'it's midnight', the herald circles not
round himself, the singer says not elulam, at the outside of the city no shout
resounds." The cry of the sea-faring boatmen in Indian languages on the west-coast
is: e_le_lo!

Lines 123-129; and interpolation UET VI/1:

"Let me admire its green cedars. The (peole of the) lands Magan and Dilmun, Let them
come to see me, Enki! Let the mooring posts beplaced for the Dilmun boats! Let the
magilum-boats of Meluhha transport of gold and silver for exchange...The land Tukris'
shall transport gold from Harali, lapis lazuli and bright... to you. The land Meluhha shall
bring cornelian, desirable and precious sissoo-wood from Magan, excellent mangroves,
on big ships The land Marhashi will (bring) precious stones, dushia-stones, (to hang) on
the breast. The land Magan will bring copper, strong, mighty, diorite-stone, na-buru-
stones, shumin-stones to you. The land of the Sea shall bring ebony, the embellishment
of (the throne) of kingship to you. The land of the tents shall bring wool... The city, its
dwellin gplaces shall be pleasant dwelling places, Dilmun, its dwelling place shall be a
pleasant dwelling place. Its barley shall be fine barley, Its dates shall be very big dates!
Its harvest shall be threefold. Its trees shall be ...-trees."

We postulate a hypothesis that Dilmun refers to the Sarasvati-Sindhu civilization area

and that MAR-TU refer to the people of Marusthali (the present-day Thar-Cholistan on
the banks of the Sarasvati river.) In the context of the decipherment of the script
inscriptions as lists of bronze-copper weapons, the following analysis based on Uruk
texts is significant:

"Almost from the beginning of the excavations in the ruins of the old city of Uruk in Lower
Mesopotamia in 1928, work has concentrated on uncovering large parts of the temple
area of that city, the holy district of Eanna... It was in these various layers and
accumulations of debris covering large parts of the Eanna district that over the years
more than four thousand clay tablets and fragments were found... In the Archaic Metals
List we again find DILMUN in a line which due to a common denominator proves to be
part of an internally cohesive group of entries. The entire list starts out with a sequence of
metal vessels and continues with metal tools and weapons. This group opens with a
sequence of various daggers, continues with various groups of unidentified objects and
from line 23 on shows five entries with the common denominator tun2, 'axe'. The lines
read in tentative translation: 'big axe', 'two-handed axe', 'one-handed axe', 'x-axe', and
'Dilmun axe'. Here most likely the differentiation bears on differences in shape, size or
function; the 'two-handed axe' may mean a double-edged axe, for instance. Again, if
seen as a coherent context DILMUN may be used here as equivalent to 'Dilmun-type
axe'. I do not think it could just refer to the provenance of an axe but rather to specific
qualities... three texts clearly are dealing with textiles but only one of them has a context
which might be interpreted; tentatively it reads' 1 bale of DILMUN garment'... as the title
following the one containing the sign for DILMUN we find the comosite sign for namesda,
the title of the opening line of the Archaic Professions list. It is supposed that this title
represents the highest official. Probably without all connotations of the terms 'ruler' or
'king' it nevertheless should be fairly close. The preceding line contains a number of
signs which if translated literally could mean 'the prince of the good Dilmun-house (or
temple)'. The exact meaning is elusive. To sum up, from our texts we do not get an
adequate picture of the relations of Babylonia, or the city of Uruk, with Dilmun. On a
general level, however, we can conclude that not only did such relations exist already by
the end of the fourth millennium BC, but that these contacts apparently were not
restricted to trade. To be sure, the exchange of metal and ttextiles may represent the
main ties, but the existence of titles containing Dilmun in their name in normal Babylonia
contexts like the Professions List point to much closer mutual contacts that would be
sustained by occasional trade. The same is suggested by the existence of DILMUN in
generic designations for kinds of textiles or metal tools. We certainly are entitled to
assume that these relations had existed long before the emergence of writing." [Hans J.
Nissen, The occurrence of Dilmun in the Oldest texts of Mesopotamia, pp. 335-339].

In the Old Babylonian period, some Mesopotamian seals depict a deity holding a crook.
(cf. Seal 124 in Macropoli Collection). The deity also appears with his foot on a gazelle,
but sometimes on a small pedestal; he wears a long robe or a kilt and on his head a
horned headdress or a tall cylindrical hat. He has been identified as the god AMURRU. In
texts and cylinder seal impressions his name is written d/AN.MAR.TU or d/MAR.TU, i.e.,
AMURRU(M), 'GOD OF THE WEST' in Akkadian. He is often loosely called the god of

the Amorites because of his association in texts with the desert and steppe. He became
the son of Anu the sky god and was often associated with Sin the moon god. He was
referred to as the warrior god. The association with the desert is remarkable. In the
Sarasvati Sindhu valley area, the arid zone on the banks of the Sarasvati river is called
MARUSTHALI (now called Thar/Cholistan or Great Indian Desert). And, MARUTS are
celebrated in the Rigveda as wind-gods, echoing the phenomenon of the 'a_ndhi' or
sandstorms common in the region of Thar/Cholistan desert.

"From the Ur III (2112-2004 BC) and Isin-Larsa (2025-1763) periods, we have a number
of textual sources which suggest that an ethnic group of people called MAR-TU were
associated with the land of Dilmun-- the first of three entities found to be trade partners
with Mesopotamia from at least 2500 BC (the others being Makkan and Meluhha). From
Drehem, a city near Nippur, we note the occurrence in two texts (dated to AS 2-2044
BC)(CST 254 and TRU 305) of a colophon which reads 'MAR-TU (and) Diviners coming
from Dilmun' (or MAR-TU Diviners coming from Dilmun)(BUccellati 1966: 249)... In
addition, other evidence suggests that the MAR-TU were associated with (sea) fishing
(Civil 1961: Buccellati 1966: 90). Thus Buccellati and later Gelb concluded that the MAR-
TU existed in the south in the area of the Gulf as far as Bahrain (Gelb 1968: 43; 1980: 2).
Finally, this linkage is suggested by a text from Eshnunna, a Mesopotamian city on the
Diyala river. In this text most likely dated to Is'aramas'u (c. 1970 BC) MAR-TU are
arranged by segmented lineage affiliation (babtum). The total states that twenty-six
MAR-TU are e-lu-tum-me, a term perhaps best translated as meaning' trustworthy' or
'reliable' vis-a-vis the local Eshnunna officials. One MAR-TU from the lineage of
Bas'anum is said to be a-ab-ba-ta or 'from the sea (lands)' or the land across the sea
(Gelb 1968: 43)... the newely discovered Ibla texts mention the MAR-TU principally in
connection with metal daggers (Pettinato 180: 9 and commentary) and prisoners of war
(Pettinato 1981b: 120, see text TM 75G.309). (Note also the MAR-TU name Iblanum as
meaning man from Ibla, Buccellati 1966: 155, 246)... From the early second millennium
BC, we have a much wider body of evidence dealing with the MAR-TU. This is due to the

greatly increased numbers of MAR-TU escaping the hamad and entering the settled
zones. As early as S'u-Sin year (2034 BC) we see that a large defensive wall was being
built in central Mesopotamia for the express purpose of keeping out the MAR-TU (the
MAR-TU wall (called) the one which keeps Didanum away, Buccellati 1966: 92).
Unfortunately, by the early reign of the succeeding king, Ibbi-Si, things had changed:

Reports that hostiel MAR-TU had entered the plains having been received, 144,000 gur
grain (representing) the grain in its entirety was brought into Isin. Now the MAR-TU in
their entirety have entered the interior of the country taking one by one all the great
fortresses. Because of the MAR-TU I am not able to provide... for that grain... (Jacobsen
1953: 40)

According to the year date of Ibbi-Sin 17, some of these MAR-TU apparently came from
the Gulf region: 'The year the MAR-TU, the powerful south wind who, from the remote
past, have not known cities, submitted to Ibbi-Sin, the king of Ur.' (cf. also Gelb's views,
1961: 36)... Oppenheim's review of UET V suggests that Ur apparently served as a focal
point and port for foreign trade, specifically with Dilmun (Oppenheim 1954: 8, n.8). A
number of texts describe this activity as traders called alik Dilmun sailed to Dilmun and
exchanged goods. A number of texts (e.g. UET V 286, 297, 549 and 796) clearly
demonstrate that individuals with MAR-TU names were involved in the trade (e.g. in UET
V 297 a certain Zuabbaum; in UET V 549 a person named Milkudanum; and in UET V
796 Alazum). This then is a clear link between Dilmun and the MAR-TU-- a hypothesis
already formulated from a number of literary texts and Ur III economic records... It seems
clear in summary that the MAR-TU were linked to Dilmun in a political sense (rulers in
southern Mesopotamian towns), commercial agents in Mesopotamia (alik Dilmun), and
inhabitants of Dilmun itself (Susa Tablet, UET V 716).[Juris Zarins, MAR-TU and the land
of Dilmun, 232-249 in: Shaikha Haya Ali Al Khalifa and Michael Rice (eds.) Bahrain
through the ages: the archaeology, London, KPI, 1986.]

Sir Henry Rawlinson in 1880 suggested that Dilmun of the Sumerian and Akkadian texts
might be identified with Bahrain island. This was on the basis of a stone cone found by
Captain Durand during an archaeological survey of Bahrain in 1879, but later lost. The
text related to the temple of Inzak, elsewhere known as the god of Dilmun. (Captain
Durand, Extracts from Report on the Islands and Antiquities of Bahrain, with notes by
Major-General Sir. H.C. Rawlinson, JRAS, N.S. 12 (1880): 189-227, with two maps. Also
suggested by Fr. Hommel, Ethnologie und Geographie des Alten Orients, 1904/1926, p.
24, 270.) Since then various identifications have been suggested such as: encompassing
Saudi Arabian mainland in the area called Dilmun, Iranian side of the Persian Gulf as
constituting Dilmun, Al-Qurna in southern Iraq and the Indus Valley (S.N.Kramer). All
these identifications suggest that not all of them are valid for all periods of Mesopotamian
history. Throughout Mesopotamian history, however, Dilmun has been an important
trade centre, and 'one of the remote areas which was at times within the reach of
Mesopotamian political influence. Noticeable among the early texts mentioning Dilmun is
that of Urnanshe who had wood transported to Mesopotamia from Dilmun (ca. 2500 BC).
In the same early period copper is known to hae been exported from Dilmun to Sumer.
About 2100 BC Urnammu of the 3rd dynasty of Ur reopened the Arabian Gulf trade, this
time with direct contact with Magan, from which copper was exported to Mesopotamia.
The Dilmun trade flourished in the Larsa period (ca. 2000-1763 BC), but then died out.
After an interim of 400 years Kassite influence appears in Dilmun (early 14th century
BC). It seems that at this time the only export article was dates. Under Sargon of Assyria
(end of 8th century BC) Upe_ri, king of Dilmun, is recorded to have sent tribute to the
Assyrian empire. In 544 BC, Dilmun disappears from Mesopotamian history when,
according to an administrative document, Nabonidus, king of Babylon, had a governor
there. Dilmun is also mentioned in Sumerian literary texts as a famous place of prosperity
and happiness, and even of eternal life, with the result that comparisons with the Biblical
paradise have been made.' (Bendt Alster, Dilmun, Bahrain, and the alleged paradise in
Sumerian Myth and Literature, in: Daniel T. Potts (ed.), Dilmun: New studies in the
archaeology and early history of Bahrain, Berlin, Dietrich Reimer Verlag, 1983, pp. 39-

74). (See also: Daniel Potts, Dilmun: Where and When?Dilmun: Journal of the Bahrain
Historical and Archaeological Society, 11 (1983): 15-19; Theresa Howard-Carter, The
tangible evidence for the earliest Dilmun, JCS, 33 (1981): 210-223; S.N.Kramer, Quest
for Paradise, Antiquity, 37 (1963): 112-113)

On the northern coast of Bahrain, at Barbar, a Sumerian temple, which had been rebuilt
three times was found. The dates for the contruction events are estimated to be:
beginning of third millennium B.C., middle of the third millennium BC and for the third
event, ca. 2200-2000 BC. In the first temple there were two staircases descending to a
square well. This was retained in all the three phases. Peder Mortensen suggested,
based on the similarity with the Khafajah and al-'Uaid temples, that the temple was for
goddess Ninhursag. The mother-goddess plays an important role in the Sumerian
Dilmun myth, Enki and Ninhursag. (Peder Mortensen, Kuml 1956: 189-198, 1970: 385-

Indus valley type seals and cubical chert weights were found. (T.G. Bibby, Kuml 1970:
345-353; cf. Michael Roaf, Weights on the Dilmun standard,Iraq 44 (1982): 137:141). A
bronze mirror handle was also found in the Barbar temple suggesting a link with the Kulli
culture in South Baluchistan (N.Rao, Kuml 1969: 218-220). " far as the third
millennium BC is concerned, the cultural relations with the early civilizations in the Indus
valley and southern Iran seem to have been much more outspoken than those with
Mesopotamia. (M.Tosi, Dilmun, Antiquity, 45 (1971): 21-25). Yet, as far as the early
second millennium BC is concerned, a cultural setting has certainly been found within
which the identification of Dilmun with Bahrain makes good sense... There is now wide
agreement among most, but not all scholars, that from the middle of the third millennium
BC, Magan and Meluhha are to be found east of Mesopotamia along the coast of the
Arabian Gulf or the Arabian Sea, whereas later, from the middle of the secon dmillennium
BC, Egypt, Nubia or Ethiopia must be considered. (I.J.Gelb, Makkan and Meluhha in
Early Mesopotamian Sources, RA64 (1970): 1-8; E. Sollberger, The Problem of Magan
and Meluhha, Bulletin of the Institute of Archaeology 8-9 (1968-69): 247-250; John
Hansman, A Periplus of Magan and Meluhha, BOAS 36 (1973): 554-587; E.C.L. During
Caspers and A. Govindakutty, R. Thapar's Dravidian Hypothesis for the Location of
Meluhha, Dilmun and Makan, JESHO 21 (1978): 114-145.) The cuneiform texts certainly
give the impression that at least originally they (Makan and Meluhha) were located in the
same direction as Dilmun, but farther away-- and later, remembrance of this direction
was demonstrably kept alive, which makes the matter rather complicated.
Archaeologically it makes sense to speak of Bahrain as a station on the way to Magan
and Meluhha if these two were located east of Bahrain, as the most important cultural
relations of Bahrain were Indus and Iran rather than Egypt. The use of Indus measuring
standards in Bahrain clearly testifies to this, and was taken for granted by the
Mesopotamian traders... The most important suggestins that have been made for Magan
are Makran on the Iranian coast, and the Oman peninsula. As copper has been found in
the Oman, the latter possibility seems highly likely. This, however, has been questioned
by W. Heimpel, according ot whom diorite statues of Naramsin and Gudea said to be
made of stones from Magan cannot have come from Oman, because diorite stones big
enough for these statues are reported not to exist in Oman. As a possible source he
suggests a position 50 miles NNE of Bandar Abbas on the northern side of the Arabian
Gulf. Meluhha is to be found along the coast of Baluchistan and the Indus valley.

"...there was a temple of Enzak, the god of Dilmun, on Failaka... it was Failaka that was
Dilmun?...the so-called a_lik Dilmun, the sea-faring merchants of Ur... The returning
merchants used to offer a share of their goods or a silver model of their boat to the
temple of the goddess Ningal, and he texts tell about partnerships and the sharing of
profit and losses in a way which would not fit such an easy travel as thaf from Ur to
Failaka. The distance from Aba_da_n to Failaka is no more than 60 nautical miles (111
km.) and could hardly be considered a great enterprise... Another possibility would be to
suggest that Dilmun was a designation not only of Bahrain, but also of other parts of the
Arabian Gulf area, among which Failaka would be counted... Dilmun is likely to the name
of a rather large geographical area, including Bahrain, Failaka, Tarut, and certain parts of

the Arabian littoral (During Caspers and Govindakutty, JESHO 21 (1978): 130; cf. the
map in D.O.Edzard and G.Farber,Repertoire Geographique des Textes Cuneiformes 2,
Wiesbaden, 1974)..." (Bendt Alster, opcit., 1983, p. 41).

Common motifs
motifs on seals/tablets of Mesopotamian civilization and Sarasvati-

The following seals of Mesopotamia contain features reminiscent of themes depicted on

the seals of the Sarasvati Sindhu civilization. Typical motifs are: rows of animals, combat,
antelope or tiger with head turned, woman with thighs spread out, circle-and-dot, one-
horned bull, hare, plant, snake, bird, fish. All these motifs have been explained as related
to metallic weapons, in the context of the decipherment of Indus script pictorials and
signs. In the Mesopotamian motifs, there are clear images related to WEAPONS.

One motif that is remarkably unique in Mesopotamian seals is the LION. Only a tiger
motif appears on the seals of the Sarasvati Sindhu civilization. The closest to a lion motif
is the bristled-hair (like a lion's mane) on the face of the three-faced, fully adorned,
horned, seated person surrounded by animals and an inscription.

Beatrice Teissier, Ancient Near Eastern Cylinder Seals: From the Marcopoli Collection,
Berkeley, University of California Press, 1984.

Late Uruk and Jemdet Nasr seal; ca. 3200-3000 BC; serpentine; cat.1; boar and bull in
procession; terminal: plant; heavily pitted surface beyond

ca. 750-600
cat. 285; a
hero in a
short kilt
between two
ibexes and graps their horns. In the field: plant in vase. In
the sky: star, crescent.

ca. 900-700 BC; chert;cat. 188; a rosette and a bull. Terminal:

plant (the linear striations on the bull's body are reminiscent of
certain seals of the late Kassite style). The bull is pictured like the
Indus one-horned bull, but in motion with 3 legs seen in profile.

Achaemenian seal; ca. 521-400 BC; lentoid;
agate. A royal figure holds two bearded
ibexes at bay.

Dilmun (Failaka) seals

[Poul Kjaerum, The Dilmun Seals as

evidence of long distance relations in the

early second millennium BC, pp. 269-277.]

Dilmun period shell seals from Sar El-Jisr

burial mounds, Bahrain.

(Source: H. Khalifa and M. Ibrahim. 1982. The Seals. pp.37-39. Fig.48. In: M. Ibrahim,

Excavations of the Arab Expedition at Sar El-Jisr, Bahrain. Ministry of Information,


One of the 81 fig shells (Ficus

subintermedia) discovered at
Tell Abraq, UAE. It was found

adjacent to human bones

within the Umm an-Nar tomb.

These "feeding shells" were

traditionally used by mothers

to feed liquids to babies.

(Source: D.T. Potts. 2000.

Ancient Magan - The Secrets

of Tell Abraq. Trident Press, London. p.98.)


In 1977 the Arab Archaeological Mission and the Directorate of Archaeology and

Museums of the State of Bahrain excavated the

mounds of Sar, near the causeway between the

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the State of Bahrain.

Shell seals were found. [Haya Al Khalifa, The shell

seals of Bahrain, pp. 255-259]

Barhain seal: ten circular depressions surround the


Bahrain seal: Two antelopes

Bahrain seal: four

antelope heads

emanating from a


Demonstrating a connection between Dilmun and Syria based on seal imagery,

Buchanan observes: "It seems possible that around 2000 BC, the Persian Gulf

merchants had a relationship, other than one involving trade, with some ethnic element in

Syria (merchants or colonists)". (Briggs Buchanan, 1965, A Persian Gulf Seal, Studies in

Honor of Benno Landsberger, 199-209, Chicago, p. 207).

Dilmun, Meluhha, Makkan

"Around 2500 BC, Dilmun is first referred to as a supplier of wood, by Urnanshe, King of
Lagash. His successors, Lugalanda and Uri'inimgina (before 2350 BC) dispensed
various textiles, resins, oil and silver out of the state storehouses to merchants of
Lagash. The merchants were to trade the goods in Dilmun for copper and other wares,
such as onions, linen, resin and bronze 'marine spoons'... During the succeeding Old
Akkadian Period (2334-2193 BC) the Mesopotamians were no longer the only traders to
visit Dilmun. The seas were open to all contries and seafaring merchants from the distant
lands of Dilmun, Meluhha and Makkan tied up at Akkad's quay, during Sargon's reign
(2334-2279 BC). Copper was shipped directly from Makkan; people from Meluhha are
mentioned in written sources as interpreters and seamen. During the reign of Gudea of
Lagash, copper, diorite and wood were delivered from Makkan and Meluhha delivered
rare woods (such as Sissoo wood), gold, tin, lapis lazuli and carnelian to Lagash.
Naramsin warred against Makkan; Mesopotamia strove for predominance in the area...
Ships from Makkan did not sail to the north. It appears that one or more trading centers in
Makkan were visited during the voyages where Makkan wares-- chiefly copper-- and
luxury items from Meluhha were bartered. Therefore it appears that many wares referred
to in the written sources as 'Makkan goods', actually were materials originally brought
from Meluhha. Through trans-shipment in Makkan, these goods were then later referred
to as coming from Makkan; the same confusion occurs later with materials from Dilmun...
Both the goods and the foreign merchants trading in Dilmun's markets influenced forms
of trade. The cuneiform characters had been taken over from the Sumerians, but the
system of weights used in barter derived from the Indus Valley culture. (Michael Road,
Weights on the Dilmun Standard, Iraq, vol. 44, 1982, 137-141). Spreading out from
Dilmun, this system of weights became very popular and was used as far away as Ebla in
Syria... Dilmun is mentioned for the last time in written records, during the reign of
Samsu'liluma in the year 1744 BC, with the entry...'12 measures of purified copper from
Alasia and Dilmun'. With this notice, the new supplier of copper is also mentioned; Alasia
(Cyprus) would control the Mediterranean and Near Eastern market for copper for the
next millennium. Alasia's rise did not occur in isolation; obviously a lengthy series of

crises led to the collapse of the existing system in the East. Unlike Dahlak, Dilmun did not
cease to exist; Tukulti-Ninurta refers to himself as 'King of the Upper and Lower Seas'
and ruler over Dilmun and Meluhha. However, Meluhha and Makkan are no longer
referred to in written records in the old sense.

"...More recent arcaheological researches in East Arabia have brought to light many finds
which are related to the presence of Indus valley people. In the settlements of Hili 8 and
Maysar-1, both of which have been investigated, Indus valley pottery is frequently found.
Seals with Indus valley script and typical iconography indicate influences in Makkan
down to the level of business organization. Marks identifying pottery in Makkan were
taken from those used in the Indus valley, including the use of the signs on pottery used
in the Indus valley. The discovery of a sea-port-- which may be ascribed to the
Harappans-- at Ra's al-Junayz on Oman's east coast by an Italian expedition would
seem to indicate that trade routes should be viewed in a more differentiated fashion than
has been done upto now." [Sege Cleuziou, Preliminary report on the second and third
excavation campaigns at Hili 8, Archaeology in the United Arab Emirates, vol. 2/3,
1978/79, 30ff.; Gerd Weisgerber, '...und Kupfer in Oman', Der Anschnitt, vol. 32, 1980,
62-110; Gerd Weisgerber, Makkan and Meluhha- 3rd millennium copper production in
Oman and evidence of contact with the Indus valley, Paper read in Cambridge 1981 and
to appear in South Asia Archaeology 1981; Maurizio Tosi, A possible Harappan seaport
in Eastern Arabia: Ra's al-Junayz in the Sultanate of Oman, Manuscript]." Gerd
Weisgerber, Dilmun--a trading entrepot; evidence from historical and archaeological
sources, 135-142 in: Shaikha Haya Ali Al Khalifa and Michael Rice (eds.) Bahrain
through the ages: the archaeology, London, KPI, 1986. [Simo Parpola/Asko
Parpola/Robert H. Brunswig, The Meluhha village. evidence of acculturation of Harappan
traders in the later third millennium Mesopotamia?, Journal of the Economic and Political
History of the Orient, vol. 20, 1977, 129-165. 'If the tablets and their sealed envelopes
had not been found, in fact, we might never have suspected the existence of a merchant

colony.' (T. Ozguc, An Assyrian trading outpost, Scientific American, 1962, 97 ff.) cited
after Lamberg-Karlovsky 1972).]

"Oman peninsula/Makkan lies half way between the two main civilization centres of the
third millennium Middle East: Mesopotamia and the Indus valley... an increasing
influence of Harappan civilization on Eastern Arabia during the last two centuries of the
third millennium. This influence seems to strengthen during the early second millennium
where proper Harappan objects are found all over the Oman peninsula: a cubic stone
weight at Shimal, sherds of Harappan storage jars on several sites including Hili 8 (period
III). Maysar and Ra's Al-Junayz bears a Harappan inscription and Tosi (forth.) has
emphasized the importance of this discovery for the knowledge of Harappan control over
the Oman Sea." [Serge Cleuziou, Dilmun and Makkan during the third and early second
millennia BC, 143-155 in: Shaikha Haya Ali Al Khalifa and Michael Rice (eds.) Bahrain
through the ages: the archaeology, London, KPI, 1986.]

Source: Harriet Crawford, 2000, Early Dilmun

seals from Saar – Art and
commerce in bronze age
Bahrain, Archaeology

Rotating animal heads.

Fig. 17

Fig. 10 Rectilinear seal

114:20:10; 1.2 x 1.5 cm.

Fig. 10 Single human

figure with subsidiary motifs (1870:18; dia.
2.46 cm.

A characteric graphic style employed on many seals found at Saar is a dotted circle.

Many seals of Indus script and many artefacts of the civilization made of ivory show the

dotted circles, for e.g. Ropar 1,Text 9021 h128

After Vats, Pl.CXIX,.No.6 An ivory comb fragment with one preserved tooth
and ornamented with double incised circles (3.8 in. long).

Kalibangan, Ivory comb with three dotted circles; Kalibangan, Period

II; Thapar 1979, Pl.XXVII, in: Ancient Cities of the Indus.

Ivory rod, ivory plaque with dotted circles. Mohenjodaro. [Musee National De Arts
Asiatiques Guimet, 1988-1989, Les cites oubliees de l’Indus Archeologie du


Dotted circle, rebus: pasra ‘smithy’; kaṇḍ ‘fire-altar’

• pāslo = a nugget of gold or silver having the form of a die (G.) Rebus: pasra
‘smithy’ (Santali)

• kandhi = a lump, a piece (Santali.lex.) [The dotted circle thus connotes an ingot
taken out of a kaṇḍ, furnace]. kāndavika = a baker; kandu = an iron plate or pan
for baking cakes etc. (Ka.lex.)

• kaṇḍ = altar, furnace (Santali) लोहकारक흙द ुः f. a blacksmith's smelting furnace

(Grierson Kashmiri lex.) payĕn-kō̃da पयन ्-कोँद । प󑅘रपाकक흙द ुः f. a kiln (a potter's, a lime-
kiln, and brick-kiln, or the like); a furnace (for smelting) This yajn~a kuṇḍam can
be denoted rebus, by perforated beads (kandi) or on ivory (khaṇḍ):

• kandi (pl. -l) beads, necklace (Pa.); kanti (pl. -l) bead, (pl.) necklace; kandit. bead
(Ga.)(DEDR 1215). The three stringed beads depicted on the pictograph may
perhaps be treated as a phonetic determinant of the substantive, the rimmed jar,
the khaṇḍa kanka. khaṇḍa, xanro, sword or large sacrificial knife. kandil, kandi_l =
a globe of glass, a lantern (Ka.lex.)

• jaṇḍ khaṇḍ = ivory ( khaṇḍi_ = ivory in rough (Jat.ki_); gaṭī = piece of
elephant's tusk (S.) [This semant. may explain why the dotted circle -- i.e., kandi,
'beads' -- is often depicted on ivory objects, such as ivory combs]. See also:
khaṇḍiyo [cf. khaṇḍaṇī a tribute] tributary; paying a tribute to a superior king
(G.lex.) [Note glyph of a kneeling adorant]

• Glyph: khan:ghar, ghan:ghar, ghan:ghar gon:ghor ‘full of holes’ (Santali)

• Substantive: kan:gar ‘portable furnace’ (K.)

Seal impressions

m417 six
heads from
a core
bhaṭa ‘six’;

Dilmun seal
Barbar; six heads of antelope radiating from a

circle; similar to animal protomes in Failaka, Anatolia and


Fig. 96b; Failaka no. 267; harp

with taurine sound-box
Fig. 96f: Failaka no. 260 Double
antelope joined at the belly; in
the Levant, similar doubling

occurs for a lion

Fig. 102; Failaka no. 126; antelopes flanking a line


Fig. 103; Failaka no. 206;

serpents held in the hands
Fig. 100; Failaka no. 83
impression; a person
flanked by

two bulls, each standing atop a

chequered square
Fig. 104; Failaka; no. 89 impression; bulls; antelopes;
person; chequered
square; trough?
Fig. 101; Failaka no. 82;
entwined serpent in the
two antelopes standing atop a
chequered rectangle; two
in lower register.
Fig. 105; Failaka no. 204; is the
person seated on a bull?

Fig. 99; Failaka; no. 174 impression;

two bull heads emanating from a


square; two persons drinking; altar and sun; bull in the lower register

seal with
2150 B.C.

Mesopotamia Albite H. 15/16 in. (3.4 cm), Diam. 7/8 in. (2.3 cm) Gift of Nanette B.
Kelekian, 1999 (1999.325.4)

These cylinder seals are from the important collection of 228 seals—left on exam in the
British Museum from approximately 1910 to 1952—formed at the beginning of the
twentieth century by the donor's grandfather, Dikran Kelekian. Contests between heroes
and animals first appeared in cylinder seals in the late fourth millennium B.C., and by the
middle of the third millennium B.C., the combatants, which might include mythological
opponents, had assumed heroic status. The contest was a favorite subject during the
Akkadian period, where it possibly represents the contrast and ever-present struggle
between the forces of nature.

A standing nude bearded hero with five visible sidelocks of hair (the traditional sixth curl
is hidden by his raised right arm) grasps a water buffalo that is rearing on its hind legs.
The head of the water buffalo is pushed back by the hero's right hand. The animal's wide
horns are displayed frontally, as found on contemporary stamp seals from the Indus
Valley, where the water buffalo was native. Such imagery demonstrates cultural
interaction resulting from trade and possibly diplomatic connections between the
Akkadian empire and the Indus Valley (Harappan) civilization. Between the hero and the
water buffalo is a small female in a long robe, perhaps holding a vessel. The hero's ally in
the contest scene is a bull-man, shown full-face with the horns, ears, and lower body of a
bull. In Akkadian-period contest scenes, the bull-man is almost invariably, as here, in
conflict with a lion. A horned animal lies between the two combatants. A two-column
cuneiform inscription names the seal owner as Ishri-ilum.

• Significance of six in the six side-locks: bhaṭa ‘six’; bhaṭa ‘furnace’

• M0308 meḍhi, miḍhi_, meṇḍhī = a plait in a woman’s

hair; a plaited or twisted strand of hair; an ewe (P.lex.)

meḍhā m. ‘curl, snarl, twist or tangle in cord or thread’

(M.)(CDIAL 10312) meṛed (Mun.d.ari); meḍ ‘iron’ (Ho )

Aragonite (shell) cylinder seal with a contest scene

From Mesopotamia
Early Dynastic Period, about 2400-2350 BC

Two hero figures wrestle with a stag while two gods (distinguished by their horned head-
dress) grapple with a human-headed bull and a bull. These gods wear an early style of
head-dress with multiple horns either side of a small cone; for later versions of this head-
dress, see the seal of Adda, also in the British Museum.

Early examples of contest scenes show ordinary men spearing or stabbing wild animals.
However, during the second half of the third millennium BC, the designs became
increasingly monumental in style. Ordinary men gave way to 'heroes' with elaborate hair
styles, joined by bull-men (who may have their origin to the east of Mesopotamia in Iran).
Analyses of seals found in graves have suggested that seals with combat scenes had
male owners, while seals owned by women were carved with 'banquet scenes'.

The central inscription on this seal seems to make no sense, but might possibly be the
name of the seal owner.

D. Collon, First impressions: cylinder seals (London, The British Museum Press, 1987)


White calcite (marble) cylinder seal with a combat scene

Probably from southern Iraq Early Dynastic period, about 2700 BC

Bull-men and Heroes

This seal is engraved with a combat scene typical of the Early Dynastic period. It has
been suggested that such scenes indicate the owner of the seal was male, while seals
owned by women were carved with 'banquet scenes'.

Although similar figures are depicted earlier in Iran, the 'bull-man', with human head and
torso, and the horns, lower body and legs of a bull, first appears in Iraq around 2750 BC.
Bull-men are often seen on cylinder seals, where they appear either singly, in pairs or
even in triplicate, fighting animals standing on their hind legs (generally, as here, lions).
The meaning of the bull-man is unclear but he may represent the struggle between
nature and civilization.

Generally the bull-man is shown in combat alongside a human figure, usually as here a
'hero' with prominent curly hair and a wide belt. Scenes of contest with bull-men fighting
lions, and heroes protecting or fighting other animals become the most common theme in
the glyptic art of the next phase of Mesopotamian history, the Akkadian period (2300-
2100 BC)

Bull-men are usually shown in profile, with a single visible horn projecting forward. On
this seal, one of them is depicted in a less common form; his whole body above the waist
is in frontal view and shows that he was intended to be double-horned.

D.J. Wiseman, Catalogue of the Western Asiat (London, 1962)

J. Rawson, Animals in art (London, The British Museum Press, 1977),_co




about 2250 BC
Mesopotamia Belonging to the servant of a prince

This seal dates to a time when much of Mesopotamia was united under the control of the
rulers of Agade (Akkad). The struggle between wild animals and heroes was a popular
design on seals of this period. It is a standard Mesopotamian theme, representing the
symbolic struggle between divine order and chaotic savagery.

The inscription records the name of the owner but it is not clear; it possibly reads Amushu
or Idushu. He is described as the servant of Bin-kali-sharri, a prince. The seals of two of
his other servants are also known. Bin-kali-sharri was one of the sons of Naram-Sin, king
of Agade (Akkad) (reigned 2254-2218 BC).

Naram-Sin was the grandson of Sargon (reigned 2334-2279 BC), the founder of the
Akkadian dynasty. The kings of the dynasty expanded their control beyond their city state
of Agade through military conquest. A major building at Tell Brak in north-eastern Syria
has been found with bricks stamped with the name of Naram-Sin, testifying to the extent
of Akkadian control. Naram-Sin was succeeded by another son, Shar-kali-sharri (2217-
2193 BC). After Shar-kali-sharri's reign a period of instability helped to bring the empire
to an end.

D. Collon, Catalogue of the Western Asi-1 (London, 1982)
Lid of a pyxis with mistress of the animal 13th cent. BCE
Minet et Beida, port of Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra),
Syria The Levant Elephant ivory D. 13.7 cm. Th. 12 cm
allocated to the Louvre after the Schaeffer excavation,
1929 AO 11601 Near Eastern Antiquities. The Mistress of
the Animals

This lid forms a circular scene. In the center, a female figure is

holding out ears of corn to two wild goats standing on their hind legs. Many works of art
from Greece and the Levant depict female figures dominating wild or tame animals. Such
scenes, which might at first glance appear to be straightforward depictions of female
goatherds, are in fact generally understood as expressions of a belief in the symbolic
powers of nature. A smiling young woman, her arms bent symetrically on either side of
her chest, is holding out ears of corn that the two goats are nuzzling. Her profile, with the
nose a continuation of the line of the forehead and her hair arranged in curls, is
reminiscent of works from Crete and Santorini, as is the band with a spiral at the center of
her forehead and the long wavy lock of hair at the top of her head. The costume is also
pre-Hellenistic in inspiration. Her breasts are bare and she is wearing a necklace and a
loose skirt made of decorated panels. She is shown sitting on a small stepped stool. Her
legs are in profile, but her torso is shown face-on. The step on the right is hidden by a
notched cone, on which the goat is resting its right foreleg. There is a similar object
beside the goat on the left side. It is not clear what these objects represent. They may be
stylized rocks like the one the young woman is sitting on, which is likewise full of holes.
The entire scene was originally ringed with a decorative trim of overlapping scales. The
two goats are mirror images of each other, standing on their hind legs as if in the act of
stepping forward. They each have one front hoof on a cone of rock, the other close to the
woman's elbow. Their bodies are powerful and slender, and the hooves are carefully
detailed. Their beards are pointing forward, and their mouths are open, ready to eat the
ears of corn.

The influence of Cretan art

The theme of the Mistress of the Animals is common throughout the eastern
Mediterranean region, while this particular symmetrical yet dynamic presentation is
typical of the Mesopotamian tradition and was also adopted in Syria. The details of the
woman's costume and curled hair, as well as the straight line of the nose and forehead in
profile, were borrowed from motifs found in pre-Hellenistic art from Crete. These motifs
spread thanks to the expansion of Mycenean culture from mainland Greece to the Greek

islands and the coast of western Turkey and the Levant. Ugarit artists were familiar with
this international civilization. This small piece, doubtless the treasured possession of
some Ugarit beauty, reflects the cosmopolitan character of this Syrian kingdom at the
end of the second millennium BC.

Ivory in art

This disk was originally the lid of a cylindrical box made from an elephant tusk. The lid
was cut out of a slice sawn vertically from the pointed end of the tusk. The box was cut
from the thicker end of the tusk where there is a natural cavity containing the dental pulp
tissue. The artists of Ugarit were experts in carving ivory from both elephants and
hippopotamuses to produce all sorts of precious objects, such as powder boxes (round
like this one or in the shape of a duck), combs, spindles, musical instruments, and parts
of pieces of furniture. Elephant tusks and hippopotamus teeth were shipped in from
Africa and Egypt across the Mediterranean, as proved by the cargo found in a ship
wrecked off the coast of Turkey some time during the thirteenth century BC.

Cylinder seal carved with an elongated buffalo and a Harappan inscription

circa 2600-1700 BC Cylinder seal carved with an elongated buffalo and a Harappan
inscription circa 2600-1700 BC Susa, Iran Fired steatite H. 2.3 cm; Diam. 1.6 cm
Jacques de Morgan excavations, Susa Sb 2425 Near Eastern Antiquities
Ekta (slide) Louvre/Bruce White (Met. exhibition, 2002)

Cylinder seal carved with an elongated buffalo and a Harappan inscription

This cylinder seal, carved with a Harappan inscription, originated in the Indus Valley. It is
made of fired steatite, a material widely used by craftsmen in Harappa. The animal - a
bull with no hump on its shoulders - is also widely attested in the region. The seal was
found in Susa, reflecting the extent of commercial links between Mesopotamia, Iran, and
the Indus.

A seal made in Meluhha

The language of the inscription on this cylinder seal found in Susa reveals that it was
made in Harappa in the Indus Valley. In Antiquity, the valley was known as Meluhha. The
seal's chalky white appearance is due to the fired steatite it is made of. Craftsmen in the
Indus Valley made most of their seals from this material, although square shapes were
usually favored. The animal carving is similar to those found in Harappan works. The
animal is a bull with no hump on its shoulders, or possibly a short-horned gaur. Its head is
lowered and the body unusually elongated. As was often the case, the animal is depicted
eating from a woven wicker manger.

Trading links between the Indus, Iran, and Mesopotamia

This piece can be compared to another circular seal carved with a Harappan inscription,
also found in Susa. The two seals reveal the existence of trading links between this
region and the Indus valley. Other Harappan objects have likewise been found in
Mesopotamia, whose sphere of influence reached as far as Susa.

The manufacture and use of the seals

Cylinder seals were used mainly to protect sealed vessels and even doors to storage

spaces against tampering. The surface of the seal was carved. Because the seals were

so small, the artists had to carve tiny scenes on a material that allowed for fine detail. The

seal was then rolled over clay to produce a reverse print of the carving. Some cylinder

seals also had handles.

Statuette of a man carrying a goat

This prayer figure sculpted in gold was found in a cache with numerous other objects
made of precious materials (lapis lazuli, carnelian, agate, gold, silver) on the Susa

mound, near the temple of Inshushinak, the great god of the city. Given the material used
- gold - and the details of the costume and hair style, the figure depicted is almost
certainly the king.


A precious statue

The figure is standing on a small rectangular pedestal, which has a tenon underneath for
fixing it onto a support. The figure raises his right hand in a gesture of prayer and in his
left hand holds a goat in miniature, whose head with oblique horns is visible above the
donator's hand. The latter is clad in a flared, fringe-edged robe from which emerge
joined, shod feet. The skirt of the robe is decorated with a pattern of engraved dots, while
above the draped belt, the close-fitting bodice with elbow-length sleeves is decorated
with rosettes. The Near East, unlike Egypt, has few preserved remains of its sumptuous
ancient textiles, which we know of through descriptions in texts, and this figurine is
evidence of these lost techniques. The figure's head is very carefully molded and
reengraved: the face is serene, the eyes large and oval under thick eyebrows that meet
in an arch on the bridge of the nose. The beard rises over the cheeks and falls over the
chest in a wavy mass trimmed horizontally. The figure's cap of short hair, shown with
cross-hatching, comes down low over the forehead and bulges over the nape of the
neck. A diadem-shaped plait is wound around the head.

A treasure

A treasure known as the "Golden Statue Find" was discovered hidden "in a confined
space" under a paving of glazed bricks, on the acropolis in front of the southern facade of
the ziggurat, not far from the temple of Inshushinak. The circumstances of the excavation
raise a number of questions, and we do not have the exact list of findings. Other than the

gold statue, the discoveries included animal bones - the remains of a sacrifice? - a
limestone chariot wheel, nine earthenware statuettes of praying figures, a silver statue -
an exact replica of the gold statue - a lapis lazuli dove studded with gold, a pendant in the
shape of a bull's head in lapis lazuli, a whetstone mounted on a gold handle with a lion's
head decorated with filigree, two animal statuettes (a reclining lion and a hedgehog) in
limestone on casters, and numerous carnelian and agate beads of various shapes. The
interpretation of this collections of objects remains uncertain: was it perhaps a foundation
deposit related to the Inshushinak sanctuary, or an offering made to this sanctuary; or
were these the furnishings of a plundered royal tomb?

A royal offering

At Susa, as in Mesopotamia, the supreme act of piety consisted in bringing divinities

offerings, a sacrifice or foodstuffs, and of preserving the eternal memory of this act by
depositing a figurine of the worshipper himself. Most figurines were in terracotta, more
rarely in earthenware or bronze. None of those dating to the Middle-Elamite period
feature such a magnificent costume. The clothes of these figurines are devoid of
ornaments and fringes; the hair is cut in a similar style forming a thick mass on the
forehead, but has no plaited diadem. Here, the choice of a precious metal, the majesty of
the figure and the complexity of the hair style and costume are indications that this may
well be the figure of the king himself, depicted as the bearer of an offering.


Significance of six knobs on the fish on the stool: bhaṭa ‘six’; bhaṭa ‘furnace’; bed.a

‘fish’; med. ‘iron’ bed.a hako (ayo) ‘fish’; ayas ‘metal’. kola ‘tiger’; kol ‘forge’.

Together with kol 'tiger, woman'; rebus: kol 'metal of five alloys, pan~caloha' the glyph

connotes: metal alloy furnace/workshop.

The Spinner

This votive or commemorative relief shows a woman squatting on a stool holding a

spindle. Behind her, a servant cools her with a fan; before her stands a pedestal table
laden with food. Another figure formerly stood facing her. This figure of a spinner is one
of the rare images of a woman in her personal domestic environment in the ancient


The image of women in the ancient Orient

Women appear in many ancient Oriental texts, always in the background of a

predominant male figure. With the exception of goddesses, they feature more rarely in
images pertaining to fertility. In this domestic scene, the woman is seated in an informal
manner, with one leg folded under her. With her arms full of bracelets, she turns the
spindle: the flower-shaped tip is visible above her left hand, and the thread accumulates
below the conical spinning whorl serving as a pulley. No skein is visible, perhaps
because the scene may not represent the act of spinning so much as the spinner's
satisfied presentation of her work to an important figure who is just visible on the other
side of the table. She is dressed in a sleeveless tunic; her decorated veil, which does not
cover her head - probably because she is an intimate setting - reveals her long hair,
pulled back in a bun and held in place with a headscarf crossed around her head. Her
face is calm but smiling, her body plump and stocky.

A royal interior

Behind the spinner stands a figure, as large as the seated figure, either because it is a
child, or rather because the artist is indicating a social hierarchy. The standing figure has
large round curls, wears a short-sleeved tunic and jewelry on his or her wrists, and is
shown fanning the spinner with a square fan on a long handle, whose parallel grooves
suggest wickework. The spinner's stool is covered with a fabric whose fringed edges hide
the upper part of the seat; an ornament protruding at the back, probably an animal's
head, remains visible. The feet, joined together by a triple brace, are sculpted in the
shape of thick lion claws. This decoration is also visible on the table, a low pedestal table
with a thick top resting on molded capitals. This highly ornate style of furniture resembles
that depicted on certain Assyrian stone reliefs, at Khorsabad (Louvre), and on the

"Banquet under the Arbor" relief from Nineveh (British Museum), featuring a similar
scene. Excavations at Ugarit, Nimrud and Arslan Tash (Louvre) produced similar
ornamentations in ivory. In the ancient Orient, only gods and sovereigns received such
furnishings, a privilege reflected in the inventories of royal trousseaux and lists of booty
drawn up by Assyrian scribes. Ordinary people ate and slept on the floor. This scene
therefore probably takes place in the divine world or in the palace at Susa, at the court of
a Neo-Elamite sovereign, perhaps the figure on the right now completely lost.

A Susian material

The material used to sculpt this relief is highly characteristic of Susa: a bituminous stone,
a matte, black sedimentary rock. Deposits of bitumen, a thick hydrocarbon, are relatively
numerous in Mesopotamia and in western Iran, an area of abundant oil resources, but
the bituminous stone deposit in the Susa region seems to have been unique and the
Susians were the only ones to use it from the 4th millennium. The fine grain of the stone
permitted a high level of precision in the details. If heated slightly, the stone could be
coated with gold or silver leaf or receive incrustatations of various materials, for the
making of luxury objects typical of Susa.

_v2_m56577569830704775.jpg Musee du Louvre. Paris. An elegantly coiffed,

exquisitely-dressed and well fanned Elamite woman sits on a lion footed stool winding

thread on a spindle. This five-inch fragment is dated 8th century BC. It was molded and

carved from a mix of bitumen, ground calcite, and quartz. The Elamites used bitumen, a

naturally occurring mineral pitch, or asphalt, for vessels, sculpture, glue, caulking, and


Both platforms show feline legs:

kolo ‘jackal’ )(Kon.) kol ‘pancaloha’ (Ta.) kaṇḍō ‘a stool’ (Kur.)(DEDR 1179). kuṭhe ‘leg

of bedstead chair’ (Santali)Rebus: koṭe ‘forged (metal)(Santali)

kaṇḍ ‘fire-altar’ (Santali)

Six dots on fish: bhaṭa ‘six’ (G.) bhaṭa ‘furnace’ (G.)

– ḍhompo = knot on a string (Santali) ḍhompo = ingot (Santali)

meḍhā m. ‘curl (M.); rebus: meḍ ‘iron’ (Ho.)

ayo = fish (Mu.); ayas = metal (Skt.)

beḍa, beḍa hako ‘fish’ (Santali); rebus: bed.a ‘hearth’ (G.)

kātī ‘woman who spins the thread’; khād. ‘trench, fire-pit’ (G.) khattar ‘attendant’ (Pali)

Kashmiri: gāḍ गाड् । मीनः f. a fish (K.Pr. 14, 38, 63, 14, 15, 168, 258; H. i, 8, 9)

khātī ‘wheelwright’ (H.)

kōlupuli = Bengal tiger (Te.); kol = tiger (Santali) kōla = woman (Nahali)

kol metal (Ta.) kol = pan~calōkam (five metals) (Ta.lex.)

Griffin, Baluchistan (Provenance unknown); ficus leaves, tiger,

with a wing, ligatured to an eagle. Kamaṛkom ‘ficus’ (Santali);

rebus: kampaṭṭam ‘mint’ (Ta.)

B009 markhor (capra falconeri heptneri)

Dm. mraṅ m. ‘markhor’(CDIAL 9885)

Tor. miṇḍ ‘ram’, miṇḍā́l ‘markhor’

(CDIAL 10310) Rebus: meḍ ‘iron’ (Ho.)

pajhaṛ ‘eagle’; pajhaṛ = to sprout from a root pasra ‘smithy’ (Santali)

beḍa = fish (Santali); rebus: beḍa = hearth (G.)

Axe-head of brown schist (L 15 cm) with the head of a

leopard or lioness on the butt. From the palace of

Mallia, destroyed in LM I B ca. 1450 BCE. After Plate

90 in: Sinclair Hood, 1971, The Minoans, New York,

Praeger Publishers

Shaft-hole axhead with a bird-

headed demon, boar,and

dragon, late 3rd–early 2nd

millennium BCE Central Asia

(Bactria-Margiana) Silver, gold

foil; 5 7/8 in. (15 cm) ÔWestern

Central Asia, now known as

Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and

northern Afghanistan, has

yielded objects attesting to a

highly developed civilization in

the late third and early second

millennium B.C. Artifacts from the region indicate that there were contacts with Iran to the

southwest. Tools and weapons, especially axes, comprise a large portion of the metal

objects from this region. This shaft-hole axhead is a masterpiece of three-dimensional

and relief sculpture. Expertly cast in silver and gilded with gold foil, it depicts a bird-

headed hero grappling with a wild boar and a winged dragon. The idea of the heroic bird-

headed creature probably came from western Iran, where it is first documented on a

cylinder seal impression. The hero's muscular body is human except for the bird talons
that replace the hands and feet. He is represented twice, once on each side of the ax,

and consequently appears to have two heads. On one side, he grasps the boar by the

belly and on the other, by the tusks. The posture of the boar is contorted so that its bristly

back forms the shape of the blade. With his other talon, the bird-headed hero grasps the

winged dragon by the neck. The dragon, probably originating in Mesopotamia or Iran, is

represented with folded wings, a feline body, and the talons of a bird of prey.”

M1390, Text 2868; m0451, Text 3235; h166 Harappa Seal; Vats 1940, II:

Pl. XCI.255 . Two seals from Gonur 1 in the Murghab delta; dark brown stone (Sarianidi

1981 b: 232-233, Fig. 7, 8); eagle engraved on one face.

Eagle incised on the lid of perhaps a compartmented box made

of chlorite. Tepe Yahya. (After Fig. 9.7 in Philip H. Kohl, 2001, opcit.)

Eagle incised on a ceremonial

axe made of chlorite. Tepe Yahya. (After Fig. 9.6 in Philip H. Kohl, 2001, opcit.)

The association of pajhar ‘eagle’ with a + glyph on h166 points to the association of the +

with pasra ‘smithy’ (Santali) pasra = a smithy, place where a black-smith works, to work

as a blacksmith; kamar pasra = a smithy; pasrao lagao akata se ban:? Has the

blacksmith begun to work? pasraedae = the blacksmith is at his work (Santali.lex.)

• Unprovenanced

Harappan-style cylinder seal impression; Musee du

Louvre; cf. Corbiau, 1936, An Indo-Sumerian cylinder,

Iraq 3, 100-3, p. 101, Fig.1; De Clercq Coll.; burnt white

agate; De Clercq and Menant, 1888, No. 26; Collon,

1987, Fig. 614. A hero grasping two tigers and a buffalo-and-leaf-horned person,

seated on a stool with hoofed legs, surrounded by a snake and a fish on either

side, a pair of water buffaloes. Another person stands and fights two tigers and is

surrounded by trees, a markhor goat and a vulture above a rhinoceros. 9905

Prob. West Asian find Pict-117: two bisons facing each other.

Ligatured tiger on a Nal pot ca 2800 BC (Baluchisan: first settlement in

southeastern Baluchistan was in the 4th millennium BC) is extraordinary: an

eagle's head is ligatured to the body of a tiger. In BMAC area, the 'eagle' is a

recurrent motif on seals.

Winged bull between two floral friezes

This relief of enameled, polychrome bricks found at Susa is of a winged bull passant
between two friezes of rosettes and palmettes. The bull is the symbol of the constructive
force of the Achaemenian Persian empire.


The white bull

A winged bull with a fine white coat walks proudly toward the right. With its head drawn
into its neck and stiff-legged walking gait, the bull's body is animated by the movement of
its raised tail. Set off against a background of blue bricks, the white coat of the bull is
colored here and there with green and yellow and the blue of the curved wing and little
curls along the neck, breast, back and belly. Its round eye is also vividly heightened with
blue, as is the line of the nose and the cheek. The bull's gilded horn points foreward, the
other hidden by the perfect profile of the subject. The animal's walking gait, with both
right legs advancing together, contrary to the natural movement, is a common artistic

A reconstruction

Unlike the Frieze of Lions (Louvre Museum, aod489), this relief is a reconstruction made
with scattered bricks found by Jacques de Morgan and Roland de Mecquenem between
1910 and 1913 on the Apadana mound at Susa. The bricks had been reused in later
constructions, and this panel was reassembled using scattered fragments. Like the other
panels in the Louvre, particularly the Frieze of Archers (Louvre Museum sb3305), it
served to decorate the walls of the palace built by Darius I at Susa. This edifice was
made up of two groups of buildings: the Apadana, a Persian term for a room with stone

columns surrounded by porticoes, and a residence with rooms lit by large courtyards,
where the throne room was located. Colored brick reliefs decorated this Mesopotamian
type of palace.

The symbolism of the bull

This relief derives from the winged bulls with human heads that decorated the Assyrian
palaces such as that of Sargon II at Khorsabad in the late 8th century (Louvre Museum,
ao19857 and ao19858). Guardians of the gates of the royal palace, these figures are
much heavier in appearance and are represented in both high-relief and in the round.
This bull shown on this brick panel is also inspired by the decoration of the Ishtar Gate of
Babylon, built a century earlier. There are several notable differences, however, between
the two creatures: the Babylon bull is not winged; its coat is tawny; its movement less
pronounced; and it symbolizes Adad, or Baal, god of storms. The Susian bull, an image
of strength and power, protection and defense, personifies the royal authority. The bull
figure has also been found in the stone reliefs at Persepolis, with or without wings, also
shown in action, in confrontation with a lion.


Man carrying a kid goat and climbing a staircase

A servant is climbing the stairs to the hall where a banquet is being held to celebrate the
new year. He is carrying a kid goat destined for the table. The scene takes place in
Persepolis, capital of the Persian empire. The limestone relief was originally part of the
decoration in the Achaemenid ruler's palace.


An illustrious capital city

Persepolis was founded by Darius I the Great (522-486 BC) in Fars, where the Persians
are from originally. The city was a great political and religious capital. Only the carved
stone parts of the palace - terrace walls, doors, and stairways - survive, the walls built of
raw earth bricks having crumbled away. The highly ornamental carvings boast of the
might of the empire. They depict narratives designed to indicate to visitors the purpose of
each room and illustrating events that many would not have been present at in person. In
this instance, the relief narrates the ceremony celebrating the new year and the
beginning of spring - the most important festival in the Mazdean religious calendar. The
day began with an audience given by the great king, followed by a procession of his
subjects bearing gifts. The banquets that marked the end of the celebrations are
represented by the large numbers of servants.

A devoted servant

This relief of gray limestone, which would originally have been colored, is a fragment
from a decorative staircase. A man is shown climbing the stairs toward the left, carrying a
live kid goat under his arm, holding its bent forelegs tight with his left hand, while his right
hand holds it by the neck. He is wearing Persian trousers that reach to his ankles and a
flared, long-sleeved tunic belted at the waist. On his head is a round felt cap with a cloth
hiding his neck and the lower part of his face. The relief was purchased by the
department in 1931. It is not known whereabouts exactly in the palace it came from.
However, there are identical figures in the carvings of lines of servants carrying dishes,
vases, or animals. In iconographic terms, it is usual for Medes and Persians to alternate,
and live animals destined for the table are always carried by Medes.

A recurring theme

Two other reliefs from Persepolis depict Medes and Persians, the two ethnic groups
living in the empire. Staircase decorations depicting servants bearing offerings and
dating from the same period have been found in Susa, but they are made of glazed
bricks, not limestone. They were inspired by the decoration of the palace of Sargon in
Khorsabad (late eighth century BC) which took the form of reliefs depicting lines of
servants carrying furnishings and dishes for a feast.


(Harriet EW Crawford, 1998, Dilmun and its Gulf neighbours, Cambridge University

Press, p. 92)


Potts, p. 47)

More than 22 socketed spearheads found in a tomb at Tell Abraq (DT

Potts, Magan, p. 68)

A bronze axe-head from the Tell Abraq site (P. Hellyer) http://www.adias-

(Harriett EW Crawford, 1998, Dilmun and its Gulf neighbours, Cambridge University

Press, p.16)

individuals holding hands beside a vegetal motif, possibly a palm branch, are engraved

on a small rectangular stamp seal found inside the northern compound at RJ-2 and dated
around 2300-2200 BCE (figs. 5.4 and 6.1). This theme is displayed in two other

examples: a smaller stamp seal of the same period recovered in an early second

millennium context at Kalba (fig. 6.2), and the bas-relief carved on the southern door of

tomb 1051 at Hili (fig. 6.4), one of the most monumental graves presently known, also

dated around 2300 BCE. The latter represents two individuals very close in attitude to

those of the RJ-2 seal, holding hands while standing between two oryx. The context of

this seal is in itself illustrative. Recovered from the same house building (building VII)

were two stamp seals with three engraved characters of writing (figs. 5.2-3), a complete

incense burner (fig. 5.1) and a fragment of the upper jaw of a leopard.” (Serge Cleuziou,

Early bronze age trade in the gulf and the Arabian sea: the society behind boats, pp. 134-

149 in: Daniel T. Potts, Hasan Al Naboodah, Peter Hellyer, 2003, Archaeology of the

United Arab Emirates, Trident Press)

Tell Abraq seal.

Potts, 2000, p. 128


223 Its Akkadian dates from around

The seal is transliterated (the Sumero-Akkadian signs in English letters) and translated in
the principal publication of the Berlin Vorderasiatische Museum’s publication of its seal
collection, Vorderasiatische Rollsiegel (ÔWest Asian Cylinder Seals”; 1940) by
Mesopotamian scholar Anton Moortgat on page 101. This book is in German, so I offer
the German and an English translation:

Line 1 = dub-si-ga ÔDubsiga” [a personal name of an apparently powerful person[1]]

Line 2 = ili-il-la-at ÔIli-illat” [another personal name, this time of the seal’s owner]

Line 3 = ir3-su Ôdein Knecht” [German for Ôyour servant”[2]]

So the full (rather boring) inscription of VA243 reads: ÔDubsiga, Ili-illat, your/his servant.”

Modern Impression of a stamped
seal: hunters and goats,
rectangular pen(?), early 2nd
Gulf region (ancient Dilmun)
Steatite or chlorite

H. 1/2 in. (1.27 cm)

Gift of Martin and Sarah
Cherkasky, 1987 (1987.96.22)

The earliest stone seals of the

Gulf region were made of steatite
hardened by firing and often
glazed after they were carved.
The impression of the hemispherical stamp seal depicted here shows a male figure in the
upper field who grasps a caprid by the neck. To the left, a male figure holds a staff.
Below, a recumbent caprid reclines beneath a gridded rectangle. A snake and perhaps a
monkey(?) are also depicted in the field. The hemispherical form and round sealing face
are typical of seals of the Gulf region, as are the incised lines and concentric circles that
decorate the back of this seal. Similar seals have been found in Mesopotamia, Iran, and
the Indus Valley, areas with which Gulf merchants traded and with whom they shared a
common visual vocabulary.

Steatite Dilmun seals
from around 2350 BC,
New National
Museum, Manama,
Bahrain, Middle East

Tracking the Meluhhan seafaring merchant. Indus Valley

seal found in Bahrain (Roaf 1982; Crawford 1998) (After
Fig. 9.5 in Harriet EW Crawford, 2004, Sumer and
Sumerians, Cambridge University Press, p. 189). ÔThere
is a famous inscription in which Sargon boasts that the
boats of Dilmun, Magan and Meluhha are moored at the
quays of Agade (Sollberger and Kupper 1971). It is
probably to this period, or perhaps a little earlier, that the site of Ras al-Junayz (now
known as Ras al-Jinz), on the south-east tip of the Arabian peninsula, shold be dated.
Tosi has suggested that this may have been a staging-post for the Meluhhan boats on
their long journey from the Indus upto the head of the Gulf (Tosi 1984: Cleuziou and Tosi
2000). Weights and seals (Fig. 95) identical to those in use in the Indus valley were found

on the island of Bahrain, enabling us to track these Harappan merchants futher along
their route. It is even suggested that there may have been colonies of foreign merchants
resident in some of the major Sumerian cities about this time or a little later (Parpola et
al., 1977). Perhaps it was these colonies which commissioned cylinder seals like the
examples recovered from Ur and from Tell Asmar which are decorated with typical Indus
motifs. There is also an Agade seal which appears to show a Meluhhan interpreter
translating to a local ruler for a party of foreigners (Lamberg-Karlovsky 1981)” (Harriet
EW Crawford, 2004, pp. 189-190)

(Daniel T. Potts, 1997, Mesopotamian civilization: the material foundations, London, The
Athlone Press, p. 145)

Ancient Magan: the secrets of Tell Abraq By Daniel T. Potts (2000), Trident Press

Daniel Potts et al, 2003, p. 153

Ivory comb from the late Umm al-Nar-period tomb

at Tell Abraq (DT Potts, Befoe the emirates: an

archaeological and historical account of

developments in the region c. 5000 BCE to 676

AD, in: Ibrahim Al Abed, Peter Hellyer,2001,

United Arab Emirates: A new perspective, Trident

Press, Fig. 8 in p.43) Based on the floral

decoration, this is identified as an import from

Bactria (northern Afghanistan/southern

Uzbekistan)(Potts 1993, 200: p.126) ÔThe

presence of diagnostically Harappan etched

carnelian beads, as well as thousands of paste micro-beads, and cubical chert weights

with identical parallels at all of the major Harappan sites, and small objects of ivory, also

implied contact with the Indus Valley in the late third millennium.” (DT Potts, p. 43).


A new Bactrian find from southeastern Arabia

Antiquity, Sept, 1993 by D.T. Potts

A new and handsome find, a decorated bone comb from Tell Abraq in the United Arab
Emirates dated about 2100--2000 BC, provides another link between eastern Arabia and
the distant Bactrian lands.

The site and context

The purpose of this short note is to report the discovery, on 11 February 1993, of a
decorated bone comb (TA 1649) in a context datable to c. 2100--2000 BC at the site of

Tell Abraq, emirate of Umm al-Qaiwain, United Arab Emirates. Tell Abraq (FIGURE 1),
the largest prehistoric site on the southern coast of the Arabian Gulf, is the only multi-
period site in southeastern Arabia with a continuous sequence of occupation extending
from the middle of the 3rd to the middle of the 1st millennium BC (Potts 1990; 1991;
1993). The early settlement at the site was dominated by a fortification tower made of
stone and mudbrick, 40 m in diameter and 8 m high. Fortifications of this sort, of which
the Tell Abraq exemplar is the largest found to date, are well-known features at sites in
the Oman peninsula dating to the so-called Umm an-Nar period (c. 2500--2000 BC).


Ten metres west of the fortress is a contemporary tomb. Like the fortresses of this period,
the tombs were circular. The Tell Abraq tomb, diameter c. 6 m, is divided into two
chambers by an internal crosswall. A passage at the southern end of the wall links the
eastern and western chambers. This year, under the supervision of J.N. Benton
(University of Sydney), and with the assistance of Prof. A. Goodman (Hampshire
College, USA), Prof. D. Martin (Hampshire College, USA), and Prof. and Mrs R.V.S.
Wright (University of Sydney), the western chamber was excavated completely. The
internal deposit, which was preserved to a height of c. 1.30 m, contained a minimum
number of 155 individuals representing all age groups (adult MNI 121). Here, in addition
to a variety of ceramic and stone vessels, copper/bronze rings and spearheads,
ostrichegg shell fragments (presumably from once complete vessels), beads and
'feeding shells' (Ficus subintermedia d'Orbiny 1852, so-called because of the
ethnographic evidence for their use by the local population for feeding liquids to infants),
a decorated bone comb was discovered.

The comb and its date

The comb (FIGURE 2a & b) is 11 cm long, 8.2 cm wide (max.), and 0.4 cm thick. Roughly
one third of its teeth were missing or so fragile that they broke upon first contact with a

small brush during cleaning. Otherwise, it is completely intact. The upper part of the
comb is crescentic. The body extends down each side in the form of a 1-cm wide strip
flanking the teeth. Both sides of the body of the comb are decorated identically with a set
of three double-dotted circles arranged in a triangle. On either side of the dotted circles is
a stylized flower with two upward-curving, dentate or crenate leaves, a long stem and
three lotus- or tulip-like petals.


While we hope soon to acquire [.sup.14]C dates from burnt bone discovered in the tomb,
several indications already narrow down its date to the very end of the Umm an-Nar
period. A burnt deposit excavated in 1989 and 1993, which ran just under the surface
linking the base of the tomb with the base of the fortress, yielded two dates of 2130 BC
(K-5574) and 2190 BC (K-5575) (calibrated after Pearson & Stuiver 1986), thus providing
a secure terminus post quem for the tomb. A date between c. 2100 and 2000 BC is
suggested by the pottery, with treatment (e.g., string-cut bases) and temper
characteristic of the following Wadi Suq period (c. 2000--1300 BC), whereas the shapes
appear to be in the Umm an-Nar tradition. The painted decoration is clearly transitional,
for it represents a stylized, simplified version of 'classical' Umm an-Nar decoration. Thus,
I would refer the tomb to the terminal Umm an-Nar period, at the end of the known
sequence of excavated Umm an-Nar tombs, beginning with the tombs on Umm an-Nar
island itself (c. 2500--2300 BC), followed by Tomb A at Hili North and Mowaihat in Ajman
(2300--2100 BC), and finally by the Abraq tomb (c. 2100--2000 BC).


Even a cursory examination of the literature on combs in Western Asia (e.g. Spycket
1976--1980) shows that a comb is hardly an everyday discovery in a late-3rd-millennium
context. The interest of the Tell Abraq find is amplified by the decoration it bears.

On first reflection one looks to the Indus Valley for comparanda where, in Mature
Harappan contexts, bone and ivory combs with dotted-circle decoration have been found
at Mohenjo-Daro (Marshall 1931: 532; Mackay 1937: plate XCI.26 = plate CXXV.24),
Harappa (Vats 1940: plate CXIX.6), Chanhu-Daro (Mackay 1943: plate CXXXII.13 & 21,
plate CXXXIV.4), and Kalibangan (Thapar 1979: plate XXVII). In 1985/6 an ivory comb
with dotted-circle decoration, thought to be an Harappan import, was discovered at Ra's
al-Junayz on the eastern tip of Oman in a context (period II) now dated by the excavators
to c. 2400--2200 BC (Cleuziou 1992: 97). In 1932 a wooden (?) comb with dotted-circle
decoration was found at the 3rd-millennium BC site of Bampur in southeastern Iran by Sir
Aurel Stein (Stein 1937: plate IX, Bam.A.33).

None of those combs bears the distinctive floral motif of the Abraq exemplar. We find a
strikingly similar pair of long-stemmed flowers on a series of soft-stone flasks (FIGURE
3) found during illicit excavations in southern Bactria (northern Afghanistan) in the 1970s
and published in 1984 by M.-H. Pottier (Pottier 1984: figures 19.143--144, 20.145, 150;
cf. plate XX). The tripartite flower, crenate or dentate leaves and long, curved stem are
closely replicated, and in two cases the flowers are shown in pairs symmetrically flanking
a central object (Pottier 1984: figure 20.145 (on either side of a plant), 150 (either side of
a winged female deity)).


Although scientific excavations at other sites in northern Bactria (southern Uzbekistan)

have yet to yield combs with this decoration, they have produced bone combs (Sarianidi
1977: figure 24, lower left); and the dotted-circle is well-represented on soft-stone
vessels in Bactria (e.g. Pottier 1984: figure 20.147, 151--153) as well as on bone and
ivory sticks and so-called gaming pieces from Turkmenistan (cf. Masson & Sarianidi
1972: figure 29a; Masson 1981: figure 6). Given the absolute rarity of combs, it comes as
no surprise to find that no precise parallel on an extant comb can be adduced. As the

very particular representation of the flower on the Abraq comb finds a perfect parallel in
Bactria, it may be suggested that the Tell Abraq comb is an import from that area.

Identification of the flowering plant depicted on the comb is a difficult if not impossible
task. After examining a drawing, Mr James P. Mandaville, Jr (Dhahran, Saudi Arabia),
author of the recently published Flora of eastern Saudi Arabia (London, 1992), observed
that none of the wild flowers of Arabia resembled it. He writes (letter of 17 March 1993):

My impression is that this plant may be largely attributable to genetic engineering by its
artist. This is mainly because of the discordance between the flower and leaf form. The
best possibility that comes to mind in terms of petal shape is an iris (although some
petals should be more deflexed). A tulip or a poppy might be other possibilities, assuming
some artistic license. In the case of the iris or a tulip, however, the leaves should be
entire and sublinear (straight margined without lobing). In the case of a poppy and its
relatives, the leaves should be much more sharply and deeply lobed and dissected. I
would note, however, that some irises have undulate leaves (wavy in the vertical plane),
and this might lead some artist to show them somewhat as appearing here (crenate or
dentate). In Arabia we have tulips only in the far northwest Hijaz mountains. We do have
an iris or two (but probably not in the far east, or UAE area). Poppies are found as weeds
sometimes in wheat cultivation, or perhaps wild over in the Hijaz.

Mandaville also remarked that a species of tulip with undulate leaves does exist 'which
thus might appear crenate if viewed from a certain angle. The leaves are narrower and
more acute than the ones in your drawing, however' (letter of 18 March 1993). The lower
two leaves of Tulipa boeotica, which is native to Asia, indeed have undulate margins (see
e.g. the photograph in Polunin 1980: plate 58.1627d) which could have led an artist to
depict them in this manner. Indeed the mountain tulip (Tulipa montana Lindl.), which
ocurs in Asia Minor and Afghanistan, bears a remarkable likeness to the flower on the
Tell Abraq comb. It is long-stemmed; has lanceolate-linear leaves with undulate margins
which are mainly centred at the base of the stem; and has six petals which appear as

three in profile. Furthermore, it is native to Afghanistan (Zohary 1982: 180; my thanks to
Dr L. Rodriguez for bringing this reference to my attention). The possibility that the flower
is a species of Tulipa, a Eurasian-wide genus (Good 1961: 89), is particularly interesting
in view of M.-H. Pottier's discussion of the flowers on the Bactrian flasks. Suggesting
these are tulips, she notes that, nowadays, spring on the steppes of Central Asia is
marked by the appearance of thousands of tulips, for which reason the tulip has become
the symbol of Turkmenistan. In antiquity, she suggests, the widespread blossoming of
the tulip may have made the flower a symbol of fertility (Pottier 1984: 76 and n. 60). Yet in
later Zoroastrian tradition, the tulip, although mentioned in the Pahlavi Book of Creation,
Bundahishn, is not named as one of the 30 flowers identified with a specific archangel or
angel whose names were associated with the days of the month (Laufer 1919: 192--3);
the tulip was not always significant in the ancient Iranian-Central Asian tradition.

The rarity of bone and ivory combs in the archaeological record results not only from the
soil conditions of Western Asia. They seem to have been very rare and costly items in
antiquity which were never numerous. Two Old Babylonian texts from Ur list items
brought back from a trading expedition to Dilmun (Bahrain) and then dedicated to the
Nanna-Ningal temple complex (Oppenheim 1954: 7; cf. Leemans 1960: 26, 29), which
include single combs, UET V 678 (undated; s.v. l. 12, ga-rig zu-am-si, '1 comb of ivory')
and UET V 292 (dated to the 8th year of the reign of Sumuel, i.e. 1886 BC acc. Middle
Chronology; s.v. II 19, [.sup.gis]ga-rig (for the reading ga-rig vs. ga-zum cf. Edzard 1976-
-80), '1 comb') (cf. also the attestation of ivory combs in an Old Babylonian text from
Susa, Oppenheim 1954: 11, n. 20).

The owner of the Tell Abraq comb was clearly an elite individual in possession of a very
rare and exotic piece of personal equipment.

This Bactrian comb in southeastern Arabia should be seen in the context of the
southward spread of the Bactrian-Murghab Archaeological Complex (Sarianidi 1987: 44;
cf. Hiebert & Lamberg-Karlovsky 1992: 1). Materials of Bactrian affinity have now been

identified at a number of sites in the Indo-Iranian borderlands, including Shahdad,
Khinaman, Tepe Yahya and Khurab in Iran; and Mehi, Quetta, Mehrgarh and Sibri in
Pakistan (the relevant literature conveniently referenced in Hiebert & Lamberg-Karlovsky
1992). Whether interpreted as the manifestation of an Aryan invasion (cf. Sarianidi 1987;
Parpola 1988) or not (e.g. Shaffer 1986: 93), there seems little doubt that a major
phenomenon of contact extending from the steppes of Central Asia to the shores of the
Arabian Sea took place around 2000 BC. Pedestalled ceramic and bronze vessels from
Bahrain and Asimah (Ras al-Khaimah) have recently been discussed in the context of
contact between the Gulf and Central Asia (During Caspers 1992), and the close parallel
between a square-based, soft-stone flask with dotted-cricle decoration from Tomb A at
Hili North (Cleuziou & Vogt 1985: 255--7 and figure 4.5) and similar soft-stone vessels
from Bactria has long been recognized.

We know from the ceramics, seals and stone vessels recovered during the first four
seasons at Tell Abraq that the site was in contact with Babylonia, Elam, Dilmun, southern
Iran and the Indus Valley during the late 3rd and early 2nd millennium BC (Potts 1990;
1991; 1993). The unexpected discovery of the Tell Abraq comb now shows us that
Bactria must be added to that list. There is little doubt that the comb represents a
noteworthy addition to the growing corpus of Bactrian material from eastern Arabia and
the Indo-Iranian borderlands.


Kalibangan, Ivory comb with three dotted circles; Kalibangan, Period II; Thapar 1979,
Pl.XXVII, in: Ancient Cities of the Indus.
Ur cylinder seal with taberna montana

plant, BM 122947; A soft-stone flask, 6

cm. tall, from Bactria (northern

Afghanistan) showing a winged female

deity (?) flanked by two flowers similar

to those shown on the comb from Tell

Abraq (After Pottier, M.H., 1984, Materiel funeraire e la Bactriane meridionale de l'Age du

Bronze, Paris, Editions Recherche sur les Civilisations: plate 20.150) Ivory comb with
Mountain Tulip motif and dotted circles. TA 1649 Tell Abraq. [D.T. Potts, South and

Central Asian elements at Tell Abraq (Emirate of Umm al-Qaiwain, United Arab

Emirates), c. 2200 BC—AD 400, in Asko Parpola and Petteri Koskikallio, South Asian

Archaeology 1993: , pp. 615-666]

tagar = a flowering shrub; a plant in bloom (G.lex.) tagara = the shrub tabernaemontana

coronaria, and a fragrant powder or perfume obtained from it, incense (Vin 1.203);

tagara-mallika_ two kinds of gandha_ (P.lex.) t.agara (tagara) a spec. plant; fragrant
wood (Pkt.lex.) tagara = a kind of flowering tree (Te.lex.) Rebus: tagromi tin metal alloy


Sign 169 takaram tin, white lead, metal sheet, coated with tin (Ta.); tin, tinned iron plate

(Ma.); tagarm tin (Ko.); tagara, tamara, tavara id. (Ka.) tamaru, tamara, tavara id. (Ta.):

tagaramu, tamaramu, tavaramu id. (Te.); ṭagromi tin metal, alloy (Kuwi); tamara id.

(Skt.)(DEDR 3001). trapu tin (AV.); tipu (Pali); tau, taua lead (Pkt.); tu~_ tin (P.); ṭau zinc,

pewter (Or.); tarūaum lead (OG.); tarvu~ (G.); tumba lead (Si.)(CDIAL 5992).

•ran:ga ron:ga, ran:ga con:ga = thorny, spikey, armed with thorns; edel dare ran:ga

con:ga dareka = this cotton tree grows with spikes on it (Santali) ran:ga, ran: pewter is an

alloy of tin lead and antimony (an~jana) (Santali).

•Adar ḍangra ‘zebu’; rebus: aduru ‘native metal’ (Ka.); ḍhangar ‘blacksmith’ (H.)

Ivory comb with Mountain Tulip motif and dotted circles. TA 1649 Tell Abraq. [D.T. Potts,

South and Central Asian elements at Tell Abraq (Emirate of Umm al-Qaiwain, United

Arab Emirates), c. 2200 BC—AD 400, in Asko Parpola and Petteri Koskikallio, South

Asian Archaeology 1993: , pp. 615-666] h337, h338 Texts 4417, 4426 (Dotted circles on
leaf-shaped tablets) Tell Abraq comb and axe with epigraph After Fig. 7Holly Pittman,

1984, Art of the Bronze Age: Southeastern Iran, Western Central Asia, and the Indus

Valley, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 29-30].

Wild tulip motif. A motif that occurs on southeast Iranian cylinder seals and on Persian
Gulf seals. 1st row: Bactrian artifacts; 2nd row: a comb from the Gulf area and late trans-
Elamite seals [After Marie-Helene Pottier, 1984, Materiel funeraire
de la Bactriane meridionale de l’age du bronze, Recherche sur les
Civilizations, Memoire 36, Paris, fig. 21; Sarianidi, V.I., 1986, Le
complexe culturel de Togolok 21 en Margiane, Arts Asiatiques 41:
fig. 6,21; Potts, 1994, fig. 53,8; Amiet, 1986, fig. 132].
The ivory comb found at Tell Abraq measures 11 X 8.2 X .4 cm.
Both sides of the comb bear identical, incised decoration in the
form of two long-stemmed flowers with crenate or dentate leaves, flanking three dotted
circles arranged in a triangular pattern. Bone and ivory combs with dotted-circle
decoration are well-known in the Harappan area (e.g. at Chanhu-daro and Mohenjo-

daro), but none of the Harappan combs bear the distinctive floral motif of the Tell Abraq
comb. These flowers are identified as tulips, perhaps Mountain tulip or Boeotian tulip
(both of which grow in Afghanistan) which have an undulate leaf. There is a possibility
that the comb is an import from Bactria, perhaps transmitted through Meluhha to the
Oman Peninsula site of Tell Abraq.

Harappan weight TA 1356 from Tell Abraq. C. 22nd cent. BCE. Banded chert or flint
weight 54.06 g. This is approx. 4 times the unit Harappan weight of 13.63 g.

Seal impression from Harappa (Kenoyer, 1998); a woman is carrying a three-

petalled flower
Crete. Inscribed Cretan copper ox-hide ingot (After Fig.82 in: Sinclair Hood,
1971, The Minoans: Crete in the Bronze Age, Thames and Hudson)

kolmo ‘paddy plant’ (Santali); rebus: kolami ‘furnace, smithy’ (Te.)

m1429 seal.
bahulā =
(Skt.) bagaḷā
= name of a
certain godess (Te.lex .)
bagalo = an Arabian merchant vessel (G.lex.) bagala = an Arab boat of a particular
description (Ka.); bagala_ (M.); bagarige, bagarage = a kind of vessel (Ka.)(Ka.lex.)
ban:gala = kumpaṭi = an:ga_ra śakaṭī = a chafing dish a portable stove a goldsmith’s
portable furnace (Te.lex.) cf. ban:garu ban:garamu = gold (Te.lex.)
Kenoyer Slide 124 Inscribed Ravi sherd (1998 find at Harappa: Kenoyer and Meadow);
the sherd contains the same sign (ca. 3300 BCE). The sign on this potsherd (with five
petals as in tabernae montana, tagaraka) is stylized as Sign 162 (with three prongs) and
Sign 165 (with five petals). Sign 167 shows five petals (and variants show many more
branches). The sign also is ligatured to form other signs:

A soft-stone flask, 6 cm. tall, from Bactria (northern Afghanistan) showing a

winged female deity (?) flanked by two flowers similar to those shown on the

comb from Tell Abraq (After Pottier, M.H., 1984, Materiel funeraire e la

Bactriane meridionale de l'Age du Bronze, Paris, Editions Recherche sur les

Civilisations: plate 20.150)

Apkallu, priest of Enki

Glyphs: giant ear of corn, eagle wings,


• Source: Apkalu Angel, Fig. of Apkallu

from Nimrud, ancient Mesopotamia

(north-west palace, room Z, 875-860

BCE), Waw Allap, ISBN: AS-33 anet/pdf-files/ANET-


kulullu ‘fish-man’ (Ancient Mesopotamia)

apkallu ‘sage’ (Akkadian) One of seven sages. There is an Indic tradition of seven

sages called saptarishi.

The word ap-kallu has parallels in indic languages (semantics, ‘water’, ‘fish’):

Aapah ‘waters’. kol ‘working

in iron, blacksmith (Ta.); kollan- blacksmith (Ta.); kollan

blacksmith, artificer (Ma.)(DEDR 2133) kolme = furnace (Ka.)

kole.l 'temple, smithy' (Ko.); kolme smithy' (Ka.) kol = pan~calo_ha

(five metals); kol metal (Ta.lex.) pan~caloha = a metallic alloy

containing five metals: copper, brass, tin, lead and iron (Skt.); an

alternative list of five metals: gold, silver, copper, tin (lead), and

iron (dhātu; Nānārtharatnākara. 82; Man:garāja’s Nighaṇṭu.

498)(Ka.) kol, kolhe, ‘the koles, an aboriginal tribe if iron smelters speaking a

language akin to that of Santals’ (Santali)

xolā = tail (Kur.); qoli = id. (Malt.)(DEDR 2135).

kolli = a fish (Ma.); koleji id. (Tu.)(DEDR 2139). kōlā flying fish, exocaetus, garfish, belone

(Ta.) kōlān, kōli needle-fish (Ma.)(DEDR 2241).

kōli = a stubble of jōḷa (Ka.) kōle a stub or stump of corn (Te.)(DEDR 2242). (cf. Ear of

corn held in Apkallu’s right hand).

kole.l ‘smithy, temple’ (Ko.) kol ‘working in iron, blacksmith (Ta.)(DEDR 2133)

bharatiyo = a caster of metals; a brazier; bharatar, bharatal, bharataḷ = moulded; an

article made in a mould; bharata = casting metals in moulds; bharavum = to fill in; to put
in; to pour into (G.lex.) bhart = a mixed metal of copper and lead; bhart-īyā = a barzier,
worker in metal; bhat., bhrāṣṭra = oven, furnace (Skt.) bharata = a factitious metal
compounded of copper, pewter, tin (M.)

See: B.B. Lal, 1960. From Megalithic to the Harappa: Tracing back the graffiti on pottery.
Ancient India, No.16, pp.4-24. baraḍo = spine; backbone; the back; baraḍo thābaḍavo =
lit. to strike on the backbone or back; hence, to encourage; baraḍo bhāre thato = lit. to
have a painful backbone, i.e. to do something which will call for a severe beating (G.lex.)
baraḍ, baraḍu = barren, childless; baraṇṭu = leanness (Tu.lex.) maṇuk.o a single
vertebra of the back (G.)

bhāraṇ = to bring out from a kiln (G.) bāraṇiyo = one whose profession it is to sift ashes
or dust in a goldsmith’s workshop (G.lex.) baran, bharat (5 copper, 4 zinc and 1 tin)(P.B.)

Ganweiwala. Surface find on a mound

(2007). Hieroglyphs on both sides.


dhaṭhu) m. ‘scarf’ (CDIAL 6707);

Rebus: Pa. dhātu ‘mineral’. (See scarf covering pigtail of kneeling person,
in prayer)

WPah. dhaṭu m. (also dhaṭhu) m. ‘scarf’ (CDIAL 6707); Rebus: Pa. dhātu ‘mineral’. (See
scarf covering pigtail of kneeling person, in prayer)

bharaḍo a devotee of S’iva; a man of the bharaḍā caste in the (G.)
baraṛ = name of a caste of jat- around Bhaṭiṇḍa; bararaṇḍā melā = a special fair held in
spring (P.lex.) bharāḍ = a religious service or entertainment performed by a bharāḍi_;
consisting of singing the praises of some idol or god with playing on the d.aur (drum) and
dancing; an order of aṭharā akhād.e = 18 gosāyi_ group; bharād. and bhāratī are two of
the 18 orders of gosāyi_ (M.lex.)

bārṇe, bāraṇe = an offering of food to a demon; a meal after fasting, a breakfast (Tu.lex.)
barada, barda, birada = a vow (G.lex.)

bhāraṇ = to bring out from a kiln (G.) bāraṇiyo = one whose profession it is to sift ashes
or dust in a goldsmith’s workshop (G.lex.)

In the Punjab, the mixed alloys were generally called, bharat (5 copper, 4 zinc and 1 tin).
In Bengal, an alloy called bharan or toul was created by adding some brass or zinc into
pure bronze. bharata = casting metals in moulds; bharavum = to fill in; to put in; to pour
into (G.lex.)

Bengali.  [ bharana ] n an inferior metal obtained from an alloy of coper, zinc and tin.

Mahajanapada, Darada, Trigarta, Kirata,

Yaudheya, Dravida: mleccha

m1187This is a frequently occurring pair of signs: Sign 342 (164), Sign 48 (114); the pair

occurs als on 13 copper tablets together with the lizard glyph as on h172b copper tablet

• Sign 48: baraḍo = spine, the backbone, back (G.)

• Sign 45: bharaḍo 'devotee of S'iva' (G.)

• baradh ‘bull’ (G.); baddi (Nahali)

• Rebus: baraḍo, vardhaka ‘carpenter, mason’ (Santali. Skt.) baḍhi ‘a caste who

work both in iron and wood’ (Santali) ] Rim of jar is ‘karNaka’; rebus: karNaka

‘scribe’. The profession of the seal owner is: scribe, mason/carpenter AND

working with the resources of the smithy denoted by the components of the

composite animal.

The date of the bangle found at Nasharo is instructive. It is dated to 6500 BCE, the

date coterminous with the early proto-Elamite potters’ marks identified by DT Potts.

Why depict a dancing girl as a hieroglyph? Because, depiction of a dance pose is a

hieroglyph to represent what was contained in the pot. The glyph encodes the mleccha
word for 'iron': med.

Glyph: meD 'to dance' (F.)[reduplicated

from me-]; me id. (M.) in Remo
(Munda)(Source: D. Stampe's Munda
etyma)me??u to tread, trample, crush
under foot, tread or place the foot upon
(Te.); me??u step (Ga.); mettunga steps
(Ga.). ma?ye to trample, tread
(Malt.)(DEDR 5057)
Rebus: meD 'iron' (Mundari. Remo.)
Bhirrana find; the potsherd with the engraving. ASI : The ÔDancing Girl” statuette made
of bronze using cire perdue technique which continues to be used even today in the
temple town of Eraka (copper!) Subrahmanya at Swamimalai on the banks of River

The potsherd, discovered by a team led by L.S. Rao, Superintending Archaeologist,

Excavation Branch, ASI, Nagpur, belonged to the Mature Harappan period. Mr. Rao
called it the Ôonly one of its kind” because Ôno parallel to the Dancing Girl, in bronze or
any other medium, was known” until the latest find.

In an article in the latest issue of Man and Environment (Volume XXXII, No.1, 2007),
published by the Indian Society for Prehistoric and Quaternary Studies, Pune, Mr. Rao
says, Ô... the delineation [of the lines in the potsher d] is so true to the stance, including
the disposition of the hands, of the bronze that it appears that the craftsman of Bhirrana
had first-hand knowledge of the former.”

6500 BCE. Date of the woman’s burial with ornaments including a wide bangle of

shankha. Mehergarh. Burial ornaments made of shell and stone disc beads, and

turbinella pyrum (sacred conch, s’an:kha) bangle, Tomb MR3T.21, Mehrgarh, Period 1A,
ca. 6500 BCE. The nearest source for this shell is Makran coast near Karachi, 500 km.

South. [After Fig. 2.10 in Kenoyer, 1998]. S’ankha wide bangle and other ornaments, c.

6500 BCE (burial of a woman at Nausharo)

S’ankha, turbinella pyrum , a signature tune of Hindu civilization; a species which occurs

principally in Hindumahasagar coastline

S’ankha kr.s’aana (Rigveda, Atharvaveda) – s’ankha bowman, s’ankha cutter

A continuing, 8500 year-old industry

At Tiruchendur (keezhakkarai, Gulf of Mannar), WB Handicrafts Dev. Corpn. has an

office; annual turnover of s’ankha obtained: Rs. 50 crores.

Seal, Bet Dwaraka 20 x 18 mm of conch shell

Wide bangle made from a single conch shell and carved with a chevron motif, Harappa;

marine shell, Turbinella pyrum (After Fig. 7.44, Kenoyer, 1998) National Museum,

Karachi. 54.3554. HM 13828.

Seven shell bangles from burial of an elderly woman, Harappa; worn on the left arm;

three on the upper arm and four on the forearm; 6.3 X 5.7 cm to 8x9 cm marine shell,

Turbinella pyrum (After Fig. 7.43, Kenoyer, 1998) Harappa museum. H87-635 to 637;
676 to 679.

Modern lady from Kutch, wearing shell-bangles.

Nausharo: female figurines. Wearing sindhur at the parting of the hair. Hair painted black,

ornaments golden and sindhur red. Period 1B, 2800 – 2600 BCE. 11.6 x 30.9 cm.[After

Fig. 2.19, Kenoyer, 1998].

Ligatured sculpture: three-faced: tiger, bovine, elephant, Nausharo

NS 6.76 cm (h); three-headed: elephant, buffalo,

bottom jaw of a feline. NS Dept. of

Archaeology, Karachi. EBK 7712

Mohenjodaro: mask with horns, humanized bovine

Kalibangan: double-head, one is tiger’s head

Kot Diji. Buffalo’s long horns ligatured to a human (woman) face

Early potters’ marks from Rehman Dheri ca. 3500-2600 BCE [After Durrani et al. 1995].

ca. 6500–

2600 BCE Early Neolithic communities are gradually linked in extensive trading networks

across the Sarasvati Sindhu Valley region. The period is characterized by the elaboration

of ceramics, the beginning of s'ankha (turbinella pyrum) industry (Nausharo, 6500 BCE),

copper metallurgy, stone bead making, and seal carving. The beginning of writing is seen

in the form of graffiti on pottery from circa 3500 BCE. A more complicated writing system

seems to have developed out of or in conjunction with this pottery-marking system;

examples exist from around 2800 BCE.

• ca. 2600–1400 BCE An integrated urban culture flourishes in the northwest, producing

large-scale settlements with advanced grid-pattern urban planning and an abundance of

material remains, including terracotta, metal, stone sculpture, seals, and coins. Large

cities such as Mohenjo Daro and Harappa in present-day Pakistan prosper through trade

with cultures to the west, and smaller settlements expand through the plains of present-

day Pakistan and Northern Bharat. Numerous seals, some copper plates and a few

weapons have been found featuring a complex writing system. A seal was found in

Daimabad (1400 BCE) with the unique glyph of a rimmed, short-necked jar. Some

images on these seals—of bulls, horned headdresses, and figures seated in yoga-like

postures—possibly relate to later cultural and spiritual developments in Bharat and use of

copper plate inscriptions for recording property/economic transactions.

Epic India with many mleccha regions

Cultural continuity of Sarasvati Civilization in India

• Continued use of shankha (turbinella pyrum) bangles which tradition began 6500
BCE at Nausharo;

• Continued wearing of sindhur at the parting of the hair by married ladies as

evidenced by two terracotta toys painted black on the hair, painted golden on the
jewelry and painted red to show sindhur at the parting of the hair;

• Finds of shivalinga in situ in a worshipful state in Harappa (a metaphor of Mt.

Kailas summit where Maheśvara is in tapas, according to Hindu tradition);

• Terracotta toys of Harappa and Mohenjodaro showing Namaste postures and

yogasana postures;

• Three-ring ear-cleaning device

• Language and culture as intertwined, continuing legacies

• Legacy of architectural forms

• Legacy of puṣkariṇi in front of mandirams; as in front of Mohenjodaro stupa

• Legacy of metallurgy and the writing system on punch-marked coins

• Legacy of continued use of cire perdue technique for making utsava bera
(bronze murti)

• Legacy of the writing system on Sohgaura copper plate

• Legacy of glyphs continuing on aṣṭamangalahāra

• Legacy of the writing system on Bharhut ligatures

• Legacy: śrivatsa glyph metaphor; śrivatsa and śrisuktam

• Legacy: Engraved celt tool of Sembiyan-kandiyur with Sarasvati

hieroglyphs: calling-card of an artisan

• Legacy of acharya wearing uttariyam leaving right-shoulder bare

• Form of addressing a person respectfully as: arya, ayya (Ravana is also

referred to as arya in the Great Epic Ramayana)

• Gautama the Buddha refers to eṣa dhammo sanantano; Mahavira refers to

‘ariya’ dhamma (arya meaning ‘right conduct, respectful’)

• Kalibangan: Terracotta. S’ivalinga (ASI)

Plate X [c] Lingam in situ in Trench Ai (MS Vats, 1940,

Excavations at Harappa, Vol. II, Calcutta) Lingam, grey
sandstone in situ, Harappa, Trench Ai, Mound F, Pl. X (c) (After Vats). "In an
earthenware jar, No. 12414, recovered from Mound F, Trench IV, Square I... in this jar,
six lingams were found along with some tiny pieces of shell, a unicorn seal, an oblong
grey sandstone block with polished surface, five stone pestles, a stone palette, and a
block of chalcedony..." (Vats, EH, p. 370).

Map of Metal Resources and Distribution Networks (After Fig. 5.20f, Kenoyer, 1998)
Over 45 sites where objects with epigraphs have been discovered

Bharatam Janam

• R.gveda (ṛca 3.53.12) uses the term, 'bhāratam janam

• ', which can be interpreted as 'bhārata folk'. The ṛṣi of the sūkta is viśvāmitra
gāthina. India was called Bhāratavarṣa after the king Bharata. (Vāyu 33, 51-2; Bd.
2,14,60-2; lin:ga 1,47,20,24; Viṣṇu 2,1,28,32).

ya ime rodasī ubhe aham indram atuṣṭavam

viśvāmitrasya rakṣati brahmedam bhāratam janam

• 3.053.12 I have made Indra glorified by these two, heaven and earth, and this
prayer of viśvāmitra protects the people of Bharata. [Made Indra glorified: indram
atuṣṭavam -- the verb is the third preterite of the casual, I have caused to be
praised; it may mean: I praise Indra, abiding between heaven and earth, i.e. in the

The decoding of Sarasvati hieroglyphs establishes the essential cultural continuum of the
civilization which was nurtured, principally, on the banks of Vedic River Sarasvati. The
continuum is evidenced in language and also in many cultural markers.


The tree of iron

click here to preview this film

by Peter O'Neill and Frank Muhly, Jr.

with Peter Schmidt
color, 57 min, 1988

This is one of the few films to document archaeological work on ancient civilizations in
Africa. It also deals with an important subject, African iron smelting, and presents
convincing evidence for early indigenous technologies far more complex than previously
expected. The Tree of Iron is set in Tanzania, East Africa, on the western shores of Lake
Victoria, where Haya people have lived for centuries.

The film follows the work of Peter Schmidt, an archaeologist and historian whose two
decades of study in the region have revealed ancient, 2000+ year old iron industrial sites,
as well as extensive oral traditions that illustrate the role of iron in agriculture, political
power, and mythology. The tree in the film's title refers to an enormous tree of great
antiquity that is the symbolic center of Haya iron production. Linked to a rich iron
symbolism, to a vibrant mythology, and to ancient iron forges and furnaces, the site of
this iron tree produced the first evidence for an ancient sophisticated technology.
Schmidt's work with African iron smelters who build and operate reconstructed versions
of traditional iron smelting furnaces, demonstrates the technological principles that the
ancients also used to obtain high furnace temperatures and to produce a high carbon
steel. It also illustrates the degradation of the environment caused by this ancient

The experimental and comparative approach takes the viewer through all the technical
steps involved, from charcoal production to furnace construction, and illustrates the

capability of the ancients to produce a high carbon steel. The 80 to 90 year old Haya
smelters are the primary actors in the remarkable process.

This film combines archaeology, ethnography, and metallurgy in an exemplary

interdisciplinary approach that overturns faulty ideas about the history of technology in
Africa and replaces them with a more humanistic understanding that emphasizes African
technological achievement.

"This important film deserves a wide audience . . .it is one of the very few films to
document archaeological work in sub-Saharan Africa and the only one to examine
ethnoarchaeological research and experimentation there. Peter Schmidt has combined
the talents of archaeologist, ethnologist and metallurgist in his quest to understand early
African iron smelting. This entire project is an exemplary model of interdisciplinary
archaeology, and we are fortunate not just to have a record of it on film, but to have a
record of such high quality." — Peter Allen, ARCHAEOLOGY

The Blooms of Banjeli Study Guide in PDF

The filmmakers have created a website for the film


ÔAsur women sung at the time of smelting which elated the furnace as an expectant

mother. Through the song they constantly encourage the furnace to give birth to a health

bab, i.e. a good quality and quantity of iron from the ore, and is associated with the

fertility cult.” (SK Chaudhri, Sucheta Sen Chaudhri (eds.), 2005, Primitive tribes in

contemporary India: concept, ethnography and demography, New Delhi, Mittal

Publications, p. 44 loc. Cit. Bera, 1997, p. 32)


Asthana, S.P. 1976. History and archaeology of India's contacts with other countires:
from earliest times to 300 BC, B.R. Publications Corp., Delhi.

Bibby, T.G., 1958. The 'ancient Indian Style' Seals from Bahrain, Antiquity 33: 243-246.

Beck H.C. (1933) ÔEtched carnelian beads.” Antiquaries Journal, XIII, pp. 384-398.
Bhan K.K., J.M. Kenoyer & M. Vidale (1994) ÔHarappan Technology: Theoretical and
Methodological Issues.” Man and Environment, XIX, 2, 141-157.
Carter R. (2002a) ÔPrehistoric navigation and exchange in the Persian Gulf.” Paper
presented at the International Congress ÔEarly Navigation and Trade in the Indian
Ocean,” Ravenna, 5 July 2002.
Carter R. H. Crawford (2002b) ÔThe Kuwait-British Archaeological Expedition to As-
Sabiyah: Report on the Third Season’s Work.” Iraq, LXIV, pp. 1-13.
Casanova M. (1997) Le lapis-lazuli dans l’Orient Ancien: gisements, production, des
origines au debut du second millenaire avant J.-C. Doctorat, Universite de Paris I,
Pantheon, Sorbonne (2 vols.).

Chakrabarti, D.K. 1977. India and West Asia--an alternative approach, Man and
Environment 1:25-38.

Chakrabarti, D.K. 1978. Seals as evidence of Indus-West Asia Interrelations, in D.

Chattopadhyaya, ed., History and Society, Essays in Honour of Prof. Niharranjan Ray,
Calcutta, p. 93-116.

Chakrabarti D.K. (1982) Ô‘Long-barrel-Cylinder’ Beads and the Issue of Pre-Sargonic

Contact between the Harappan Civilization and Mesopotamia.” In G.L. Possehl (ed.)
Harappan Civilization: a Contemporary Perspective. Delhi, 265-270.
Chakrabarti D.K. (1990) The External Trade of the Indus Civilization. New Delhi.

CLEUZIOU, S. 1992. The Oman peninsula and the Indus civilization: a reassessment,
Man and Environment 17/2: 93--103.

Cleuziou S. & M. Tosi (2000) ÔRa’s al-Jinz and the Prehistoric Coastal Cultures of the
Ja`laan.” The Journal of Oman Studies, 11, pp. 19-73.
Collon D. (1977) ÔIvory.” In J.D. Hawkins (ed.) Trade in the Ancient Near East.
London, pp. 219-222.
Collon D. (1990) Near Eastern Seals. University of California/British Museum, Berkeley.
Dikshit M.G. (1949) Etched Beads in India. Poona.

Corbiau, S. 1936. An Indo-Sumerian Cylinder, Iraq 3: 100-103.

During Caspers E.C.L. (1971) ÔEtched Carnelian Beads.” Bullettin of the Institute of
Archaeology, 10, 83-98.

During Caspers, E.C.L. 1972. Harappan trade in the Arabian Gulf in the third millennium
BC, Mesopotamia 7: 167-191.

During Caspers, E.C.L. 1982. Sumerian traders and businessmen residing in the Indus
Valley cities: a critical assessment of archaeological evidence, Annali 42: 337-380.

DURING CASPERS, E.C.L. 1992. Intercultural/mercantile contacts between the Arabian

Gulf and South Asia at the close of the 3rd millennium BC, Proceedings of the Seminar
for Arabian Studies 22: 3--28.

EDZARD, D.O. 1976--1980. Kamm A. Philologisch, Reallexikon der Assyriologie 5: 332.

Foster B. (1995) From distant days... Myths, tales and poetry from ancient Mesopotamia.
Franke-Vogt U. (1991) ÔThe Glyptic Art of the Harappa Culture.” In M. Jansen., M.
Mulloy & G. Urban (eds.) Forgotten cities on the Indus. Mainz, pp. 179-187.

Franke-Vogt U. (1992) ÔInscribed Objects from Mohenjo-Daro: Some Remarks on
Stylistic Variability and Distribution Patterns.” In C. Jarrige (ed.) South Asian
Archaeology 1989. Madison, 103-118.

Frankfort, H. 1934. The Indus Civilization and the Near East, Annual Bibliography of
Indian Archaeology VII: 1-12.

Gadd, C.J. 1932. ÔSeals of Ancient Indian Style found at Ur”, Proc. of the British
Academy, XVII: 191-210.

Gadd, C.J. and Smith, S. 1924. The new links between Indian and Babylonian
Civilizations, Illus. London News, Oct. 4, p. 614-616.

Gibson, McG. 1976. The Nippur expedition, The Oriental Institute of the Univ. of Chicago
Annual Report 1975/76: 26,28.

Glassner J.-J. (2002) ÔDilmun et Magan: Le Peuplement, l’Organisation Politique, la

Question des Amorrites et la Place de l’Ècriture. Point de Vue de l’Assyriologue.” In
S. Cleuziou, M. Tosi & J. Zarins (eds.) Essays on the Late Prehistory of the Arabian
Peninsula. Roma, pp. 337-381.

GOOD, R. 1961. The geography of the flowering plants. London: Longman.

HIEBERT, F.T. & C.C. LAMBERG-KARLOVSKY. 1992. Central Asia and the Indo-
Iranian borderlands, Iran 30: 1--15.

Heimpel W.L., L.Gorelick & A.J.Gwinnet (1988) ÔPhilological and archaeological

evidence for the use of emery in the Bronze Age Near East.” Journal of Cuneiform
Studies, 40/2, 195-210.
Inizan M.-L. (2000) ÔImportation de cornalines et agates de l’Indus en Mésopotamie.
Le cas de Suse et Tello.” In V. Roux (ed.) Cornaline de l’Inde. Des pratiques
techniques de Cambay aux techno-systémes de l’Indus. Paris, 473-502.
Joshi J.P. & A. Parpola (1987) Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions. 1. Collections in
India. Helsinki.
Kenoyer J.M. (1997) ÔTrade and technology of the Indus Valley: new insights from
Harappa, Pakistan.” World Archaeology, 29/2, 262-280.
Kenoyer J.M. (1998) Ancient Cities of the Indus Valley Civilization. Karachi.
Kenoyer J.M. (in print) ÔIndus and Mesopotamian Trade Networks: New Insights from
Shell and Carnelian Artefacts.” In E. Olijdam (ed.) E. During Casper’s Memorial

Kjaerum, P. 1980. Seals of Dilmun-Type from Failaka, Kuwait, PSAS 10: 45-53.

Kjaerum, P. 1983. The Stamp and Cylinder Seals 1:1, Failaka/Dilmun: The second
millennium settlements, Jutland Arch. Soc. Publ. XVII:1, Aarhus.

KOHL, P.L. (ed.). 1981. The Bronze Age civilization of Central Asia: recent Soviet
discoveries. Armonk (NY): M.E. Sharpe.

LAUFER, B. 1919. Sino-Iranica: Chinese contributions to the history of civilization in

ancient Iran, with special reference to the history of cultivated plants and products.
Chicago (IL): Field Museum. Publication 201.

LEEMANS, W.F. 1960. Foreign trade in the Old Babylonian period. Leiden: Brill.

Mackay, E.J.H. 1925. Sumerian connections with Ancient India, JRAS: 696-701.

Mackay, E.J.H. 1931. Further Excavations at Mohenjo-daro, New Delhi.

MACKAY, E.J.H. 1937. Further excavations at Mohenjo-Daro II. Delhi: Government of

India. 1943. Chanhu-Daro excavations 1935--36. New Haven (CT): American Oriental
Series 20.

MARSHALL, J. 1931. Mohenjo-Daro and the Indus civilization II. London: Arthur

MASSON, V.M. 1981. Urban centers of early class societies, in Kohl (ed.): 135--48.

MASSON, V.M. & V.I. SARIANIDI. 1972. Central Asia: Turkmenia before the
Achaemenids. New York (NY): Praeger.

Masson, V.M. and Sarianidi, V.I. 1972. Central Asia, Thames and Hudson, London.

Nissen, H.J. 1982. Linking distanct areas archaeologically, paper read at the 1st
International Conference on Pakistan Archaeology, Peshawar.

OPPENHEIM, A.L. 1954. The seafaring merchants of Ur, Journal of the American
Oriental Society 74: 6--17.

Parpola, A. 1984. New correspondences between Harappan and Near Eastern Glyptic
Art, in B. Allchin, ed., South Asian Archaeology 1981, Univ. of Cambridge Oriental
Publications 34, Cambridge.

PARPOLA, A. 1988. The coming of the Aryans to Iran and India and the cultural and
ethnic identity of the Dasas, Studia Orientalia 64: 195--302.

Parpola, S., Parpola, A., and Brunswig, R.H. Jr. 1977. The Meluhha village: evidence of
acculturation of Harappan traders in late third millennium Mesopotamia? JESHO XX:

PEARSON, G.W. & M.V. STUIVER, 1986. High-perecision calibration of the radiocarbon
time scale, 500--2500 BC, Radiocarbon 28: 838--52.

Peyronel L. (2000) ÔSigilli Harappani e Dilmuniti dalla Mesopotamia e dalla Susiana.

Note sul Commercio nel Golfo Arabo-Persico tra III e II Mill. a.C.” Vicino Oriente,

12, pp. 175-240.
Pezzoli-Olgiati D. (2000) ÔImages of cities in Ancient Religions: Some methodological
considerations.” Zurich. Site <

POLUNIN, O. 1980. Flowers of Greece and the Balkans: a field guide. Oxford: Oxford
University Press.

POSSEHL, G.L. (ed.). 1979. Ancient cities of the Indus. New Delhi: Vikas Publishing

Possehl G.L. (1984) ÔOf Men.” In J.M. Kenoyer (ed.) From Sumer to Meluhha:
contributions to the archaeology of South and West Asia in memory of George F. Dales,
Jr. Wisconsin Archaeological Reports, 3, pp. 179-186.
Possehl G.L. (2002) The Indus Civilization. A Contemporary Perspective. Walnut

POTTIER, M.-H. 1984. Materiel funeraire de la Bactriane meridionale de l'Age du

Bronze. Paris: Editions Recherche sur les Civilisations.

POTTS, D.T. 1990. A prehistoric mound in the Emirate of Umm al-Qaiwain: excavations
at Tell Abraq in 1989. Copenhagen: Munksgaard. 1991. Further excavations at Tell
Abraq: the 1990 season. Copenhagen: Munksgaard. 1993. Rethinking some aspects of
trade in the Arabian Gulf, World Archaeology 24: 423--40.

Potts T. (1994) Mesopotamia and the East. Oxford.

D.T. Potts "A new Bactrian find from southeastern Arabia". Antiquity.

23 Sep, 2009.

Rao S.R. (1973) Lothal and the Indus Civilization. Bombay.

Rao S.R. (1979) Lothal a Harappan Port Town (1955-62). Memoirs of the Archaeological
Survey of India, 78, Volume 1. New Delhi.
Rao S.R. (1985) Lothal a Harappan Port Town (1955-62). Memoirs of the Archaeological
Survey of India, 78, Volume 2. New Delhi.

Ratnagar, S. 1981. Encounters, the westerly trade of the Harappan Civilization, Oxford
Univ. Press, Delhi.

Reade J. (1979) Early Etched Beads and the Indus-Mesopotamia Trade. London.
Reade J. (2001) ÔAssyrian King-Lists, The Royal Tombs of Ur, and Indus Origins.”
Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 60, 1, 1-38.
Roux V. & Matarasso P. (2000) ÔLes perles in cornaline harappéennes. Pratiques
techniques et techno-systéme.” In V. Roux (ed.) Cornaline de l’Inde. Des pratiques
techniques de Cambay aux techno-systémes de l’Indus. Paris,417-438.

SARIANIDI, V. 1977. Bactrian centre of ancient art, Mesopotamia 12: 97--110. 1987.
South-west Asia: migrations, the Aryans and Zoroastrians, Information Bulletin 13: 44--

Sax M. (1991) ÔThe Composition of the Materials of the First Millennium BC Cylinder
Seals from Western Asia.” In P. Budd, B. Chapman, C. Jackson, R. Janaway & B.
Ottaway (eds.) Archaeological Sciences 1989. Exeter.
Shah S.G.M. & A. Parpola (1991) Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions. 2. Collections
in Pakistan. Helsinki.

SHAFFER, J.G. 1986. The archaeology of Baluchistan: a review, Newsletter of

Baluchistan Studies 3: 63--111.

Simoons F.J. (1968) A Ceremonial Ox of India. The Mithan in Nature, Culture and
History with Notes on Domestication of Common Cattle. Madison.
Sollberger E. (1970) ÔThe Problem of Magan and Meluhha.” Bulletin of the University

of London, 8-9, pp. 247-250.
Tallon F. (1995) Les Pierres Précieuses de l’Orient Ancien des Sumériens aux
Sassanides. Paris.

SPYCKET, A. 1976--1980. Kamm B. Archaologisch, Reallexikon der Assyriologie 5: 332-


STEIN, M.A. 1937. Archaeological reconnaissances in north-western India and south-

eastern Iran. London: Macmillan.

THAPAR, B.K. 1979. Kalibangan: a Harappan metropolis beyond the Indus Valley, in
Possehl (ed.): 196--202.

Tosi, M. 1982. A possible Harappan Seaport in Eastern Arabia: Ra's Al Junayz in the
Sultanate of Oman, paper read at the 1st International Conference on Pakistan
Archaeology, Peshawar.

Tosi M. (1991) ÔThe Indus Civilization beyond the Indian Subcontinent.” In M. Jansen.,
M. Mulloy & G. Urban (eds.) Forgotten cities on the Indus. Mainz, 111-128.

VATS, M.S. 1940. Excavations at Harappa II. Calcutta: Government of India.

Vidale M. (2000) The Archaeology of Indus Crafts. Indus craftspeople and why we
study them. IsIAO Reports and Memoirs, IV, Series Minor, Rome.
Vidale M. (2002) ÔAspects of the Indian bead trade in the Bronze Age.” Paper presented
at the International Congress ÔEarly navigation and Trade in the Indian
Ocean,” Ravenna, 5 June 2002.
Vidale M. (in print) ÔThe Short-Horned Bull on the Indus Seals: a Symbol of the Families
in the Western Trade?” Forthcoming in South Asian Archaeology 2002, Bonn.
Vidale M. & P. Bianchetti (1997) ÔMineralogical Identification of Green Semiprecious
Stones from Pakistan.” In R. Allchin & B. Allchin (eds.) South Asian Archaeology,

1995. New Delhi, Vol. 2, 947-953.
Vidale M. & P. Bianchetti (1998-1999) ÔIdentification of grossular (garnet) as a possible
item of long-distance trade from the Indus Valley to Mesopotamia in the Third
millennium BC.” Ancient Sindh, 5, 39-43.

Wheeler, Sir M. 1968. The Indus Civilization, Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge.

Winkelmann S. (1999) ÔEin Stempelsiegel mit alt-elamischer Strichschsrift.”

Archäologischen Mitteilungen aus Iran und Turan, 31, pp. 23-32.

Yule, P. 1981. Zu den Beziehungen zwischen Mesopotamien und dem Indusgebiet im 3.

und beginnenden 2. Jahrtausend, Allgemeine und Vergleichende Archaologie Kolloquien

Zarins J. (2002) ÔMagan Ship Builders at the Ur-III Lagash Dockyards.” Paper presented
at the International Congress ÔEarly Navigation and Trade in the Indian
Ocean,” Ravenna, 5 June 2002.
Zarins Y. (2003) ÔMagan Shipbuilders at the Ur III Lagash State Dockyards (2062-
2025 BC).” In E. Olijdam & R.H. Spoor (eds.) Intercultural Relations Between South
and Southwest Asia. Studies in Commemoration of E.C.L. During Caspers (1934-
1996). Bar International Series, pp. 66-85.

ZOHARY, M. 1982. Plants of the Bible. London: Cambridge University Press.