Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: May 25, 2021, 7:28 a.m. Humanist 35.40 - events: Mathematical epigraphy and the Interactive Corpus of Indus Texts

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 40.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
                      Hosted by DH-Cologne
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        Date: 2021-05-24 16:30:53+00:00
        From: Gabriel Bodard <gabriel.bodard@SAS.AC.UK>
        Subject: Seminar: Mathematical epigraphy and the Interactive Corpus of Indus Texts

Digital Classicist London Seminar
Friday May 28, 2021, 17:00 (UK time/UTC+1)
Streamed live at

Andreas Fuls (Technical University Berlin) 
Mathematical epigraphy and the Interactive Corpus of Indus Texts (ICIT)

The Indus culture (2600 to 1700 BC) is found in Pakistan and NW India,
and is one of the earliest ancient civilizations, along with the
civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia and China. This Bronze Age culture
is most famous for its short inscriptions found on different artefacts
such as seals, tablets, pots, bangles and sealings. Since the Indus
writing system has for the most part remained undeciphered, our
knowledge of the Indus culture is based solely on the interpretation of
archaeological data. Any decipherment, even a partial one, would provide
important information about the Indus people, their social structure,
trade and religion.

The basis of successful decipherment is an up-to-date corpus of Indus
inscriptions and a comprehensive sign list, which makes it possible to
analyse sign patterns and to identify the Indus root language(s). This
is the reason why the Interactive Corpus of Indus Texts (ICIT) as an
online tool for Indus script research has been compiled. At present it
contains 4537 inscribed objects with 5509 texts and 19616 sign
occurrences. Analytical methods have been developed to analyse Indus
inscriptions such as Normalized Weighed Sign Position Histograms,
Multivariate Segmentation Trees, and a classification method to
determine the type of the Indus language.

The issues discussed are related to the number of distinct Indus signs,
the reading direction of sign sequences, the type of writing system, the
heterogeneity of Indus inscriptions, and the spatial and temporal
distribution of inscribed artefacts. Some general proposals about the
content of the inscriptions are also considered and evaluated in view of
the results obtained through the mathematical and epigraphical analysis.


Dr Gabriel BODARD (he/him)
Reader in Digital Classics
Institute of Classical Studies / Digital Humanities Research Hub
University of London
Senate House
Malet Street
London WC1E 7HU

T: +44 (0)20 78628752

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