Near Eastern Seminar Series (NESS) | Sareeta Zaid
Sareeta Zaid | The University of Sydney
The Indus Valley civilisation: A contextual approach to script
The Harappan or Indus Valley script has been a topic of archaeological inquiry from the firstpublication of an Indus stamp seal in 1875. The enigma of the Harappan script, written in an unknown language with unknown meaning, has intrigued scholars from various disciplines from this initial discovery to the present day. There have been numerous attempts to decode the Harappan
script throughout this time. However, due to the lack of bilingual texts, brevity of inscriptions, and indeterminate nature of the language being represented, such proposed translations cannot be either conclusively proved or disproved, and as a result currently remain in the realm of speculation.
Accordingly, a different approach has the potential to provide new findings. Through detailed contextual studies, further information can be gleaned in regard to the script that is not currently possible with purely script-based studies. The Indus inscriptions were situated within the wider context of the Harappan world, which provided meaning to individual inscribed objects in the same way as has been demonstrated with deciphered ancient languages. In these instances, the written forms of these languages were interpreted by their users within the broader hermeneutic framework in which they existed, providing invaluable information for their interpretation that an outsider would not be privy to. This has informed my doctoral study, which involves the detailed examination of inscribed Indus objects and published excavation reports from key Harappan sites.
The compilation of contextual and object-based information for each inscribed artefact and associated objects provides the opportunity to gain insight into the nature of the Indus script that has previously not been uncovered.
Sareeta Zaid is a second year PhD candidate in Archaeology at the University of Sydney, studying the Indus Valley civilisation. She is active in various roles at the University of Sydney, including as a tutor for the first year archaeology subject Ancient People: Hunters and Farmers, and as an Education Officer at the Nicholson Museum. In addition, Sareeta is an organiser for the biennale Anthony McNicoll Visiting Fellowship and the Archaeology, Museums and Heritage weekly seminar series. Last year Sareeta published her Honours research in the journal of Ancient Near Eastern Studies, titled ‘Khirbet Kerak Ware in the Southern Levant – A Case of Ethnic Identity?’. Sareeta is also a 2020 fellow in the University of Sydney’s pilot Communities of Support program, which is aimed at easing the transition of first in family and low SES students to university.
Everyone is welcome to attend the Near Eastern Seminar Series.
If you haven’t received an email with the Zoom meeting details, please click here to register your interest in the seminar series.
25 May 2020, 4:00-5:00pm
The Department of Archaeology is part of the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry (SOPHI).