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Bronze age trade, mleccha language and writing system

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  • S.Kalyanaraman
    Bronze Age Trade and Writing System of Meluhha (Mleccha) Evidenced by Tin Ingots from the Near vicinity of Haifa [For Bronze Age Trade Workshop in 5ICAANE,
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 4, 2006
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      Bronze Age Trade and Writing System of Meluhha (Mleccha) Evidenced
      by Tin Ingots from the Near vicinity of Haifa
      [For Bronze Age Trade Workshop in 5ICAANE, April 2006]


      The discovery of two pure tin ingots in a ship-wreck near Haifa has
      produced two "Rosetta" stones to decode the "Indus script". The
      epigraphs on the tin ingots have been deciphered as related to
      ranku "antelope", "liquid measure"; read rebus: ranku 'tin'. As J.D.
      Muhly noted, the emergence of Bronze Age trade and writing system
      may be two related initiatives which started approximately in the
      Third Millennium B.C. It is surmised that the maritime-trade links
      between Ugarit and Meluhha might have extended from Crete to
      Haifa.Linking archaeology and philology is a challenging task.
      Whatlanguage could the writings on Haifa tin ingots be? The
      breakthrough invention of alloying may have orthographic parallels
      of ligatured signs and ligatured pictorial motifs (such as a bovine
      body with multiple animal heads, combination of animal heads,
      combination of lathe and furnace on a standard device, ligaturing on
      a heifer, damr.a -- unicorn -- with one curved horn, pannier,
      kammarsala). A ligature of a tiger's face to the upper body of a
      woman is also presented in the round. The hieroglyphic code has been
      deciphered as words of Mleccha. Mleccha (Meluhha) was the language
      in which Yudhishthira and Vidura converse in the Mahabharata about
      the non-metallic killer devices of a fortification that was made of
      shellac. There is a depiction of a Meluhha trader accompanied by a
      woman carrying a kamandalu. There are, however, substratum words in
      Sumerian such as tibira "merchant" and sanga "priest" which are
      cognate with tam(b)ra "copper" (Santali) and sanghvi "priest"


      Lipshur litanies state: 'Melukkha...is the land of carnelian'
      (Sumerian NA4.GUG, Akkadian sa_mtu). In the 17th century BCE, the
      Neo-Assyrian king Esarhaddon called himself, 'king of the kings of
      Dilmun, Magan, and Melukkha'. The umerian 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 Tukrish 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!'

      This monograph presents four `rosetta stones' to decipher the Indus
      script. 1. First and second are pure tin ingots with Sarasvati
      hieroglyphs discovered in the Haifa shipwreck; 2. Third is an
      Akkadian cylinder seal attesting to Meluhha as a language of bronze-
      age traders (sea-faring merchants); 3. Fourth is a cylinder seal
      from Ur showing tabaernamonta flower (used as hair-fragrance) which
      is read in Meluhha as tagaraka, rebus: tagara `tin'. The
      cryptography of the writing system is mlecchita vikalpa (which is
      recognized by Vatsyayana as one of 64 arts).

      Bronze age trade and cryptography: mlecchita vikalpa

      The following picture of these two ingots incised with epigraphs was
      published by J.D. Muhly [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]. Muhly notes:"… copper is likely to be a local
      product; the tin was almost always an import... There is certainly
      no tin on Cyprus, so at best the ingots could have been transhipped
      from that island. How did they then find their way to Haifa? Are we
      dealing with a ship en route from Cyprus, perhaps to Egypt, which
      ran into trouble and sank off the coast of Haifa? If so, that
      certainly rules out Egypt as a source of tin. Ingots of tin are rare
      before Roman times and, in the eastern Mediterranean, unknown from
      any period. What the ingots do demonstrate is that metallic tin was
      in use during the Late Bronze Age...rather extensive use of metallic
      tin in the ancient eastern Mediterranean, which will probably come
      as a surprise to many people." (Muhly, J.D., 1976, Copper and Tin,
      Hamden, Archon Books, p.47). We do not know where the tin ingots
      were moulded, and where the epigraphs were incised, but it is
      possible to read the epigraphs using references to cryptography in
      Mahabharata and mlecchita vikalpa `cryptography' mentioned by
      Vatsyayana in vidya samuddes'ah (objective of education in 64

      Appendix A Note on Cypro-Minoan symbols, Hittite hieroglyphs and
      Cretan hieroglphs on Phaistos Disk

      Appendix B Cryptography and reference to mleccha as language in
      Mahabharata, and to khanaka, the minerMahabharata

      Appendix C Ardhasamskr.tam and semantic Clusters from Indic family
      of languages

      Appendix D Some excerpts from Muhly, Forbes, Serge Cleuziou and
      Thierry Berthoud on sources of tin; tin of Melukkha !

      Paper with illustrations at URL:
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