RAS Weekender

Tavern at the Radisson Xingguo Hotel

Deciphering Indus Script: A Mammoth in the Midday Sun

Speaker: Lynn Fawcett

In 1882, Terrien de Lacouperie published an article in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Britain and Ireland. In the article entitled: ‘A Lolo Manuscript Written on Satin’, Lacouperie said that he thought that there was a link between the legend on a seal that Alexander Cunningham had found at a place called Harappa in Lahore, and Lolo writing.

Harappa is now known to have been just one city of many in a Bronze Age civilisation dated to 3300–1300 BCE: the Indus Civilisation. The original corpus of one seal has now grown to several thousand objects bearing signs known as the Indus script.

It therefore seems fitting, that after a gap of 134 years, Lynn Fawcett is going to present a lecture to the Royal Asiatic Society China in Shanghai, in which she demonstrates that what Lacouperie intuitively knew from his graphical analysis of archaic scripts is correct. There is a link between the Indus script and archaic Sinitic scripts including Lolo.

Lynn Fawcett is an independent researcher. She argues that the roots of Chinese script go back at least 35,000 or 40,000 years. Lynn is building a website to publish the results of her research on what she has called the Cave Script Translation Project: www.cavescript.org.

Deciphering the Indus script is the latest branch of Lynn’s work.

Lynn says: “Like Lacouperie, I started out with pattern recognition. In my opinion there is an obvious link between symbols found in prehistoric caves in Europe and the glyphs that are the building blocks of archaic Chinese.

“My project is now over four years old. It has grown from the translation of a 17,000-year-old hunting tale to a family of scripts spanning time and space.

“I am delighted that the Indus script has become a new member of the family, because the script has been very well documented and researched, and the provenance of many examples of the script is excellent. I can’t read everything in the Indus script, but I have been able to decipher several inscriptions. Those inscriptions have given me a fascinating insight into life in the Indus Valley Civilisation”.

In this lecture, Lynn will talk about the decipherment process and share some of her translations. RAS members should note that Lynn’s work has not yet been independently verified.

Image: The first Indus seal that was found by Cunningham.

The inscription has been degraded. Therefore, it cannot be deciphered with certainty. It is possible however, to make an educated guess at what the inscription says and the purpose of the seal.


RSVP: bookings@royalasiaticsociety.org.cn