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IVC --Art and Invention

Origins and Legacy of Indus Valley Art
Reference and acknowledgements are due to ---

Next up, with more than 40 years of archaeological experience in India and Pakistan was Mark Kenoyer of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In search not only of ancient objects, but of how they were made and used, Kenoyer has engaged in countless projects in experimental archaeology, making jewelry, decorating pottery, and more. His work has been supported by National Geographic grants, and reported in the pages of the magazine.

Kenoyer sparked interest early on, presenting seals like those seen above, with their undeciphered script, and following them with two examples of similar seals found with Akkadian script from Mesopotamia–symbols that are now well understood.

The first is in the British Museum, and is an “Akkadian seal with an Indus animal.” The letters seem to read “Ka lu Sig,” which Kenoyer said can be interpreted as “May the affair be favorable” or maybe that someone by the name of “Kaku” “is favorable.”

A drawing of the Indus-style seal with Akkadian writing reading “The devotee of Nin-Ildum, Son of Dog.” (Image courtesy Mark Kenoyer)

The second example was from a private collection, and he gave credit to fellow Harappan scholar Massimo Vidale for its presentation and translation: “The devotee of Nin-Ildum, Son of Dog.” Now “son of a dog” isn’t exactly a term of endearment around the world today, he said, so perhaps it had a meaning more like “son of a servant.” While that specific part of the translation is pretty theoretical, it’s the general format that is most important.