Sunday, January 09, 2005

Two rosetta stones of tin ingot inscriptions in Indus script as Sarasvati hieroglyphs

Sea-faring merchants of Melukkha, trade in ancient tin ingots with encoded epigraphs

The bronze age trading route of 3rd millennium BCE was through Mari on the Euphrates to Ugarit (Mediterranean Sea) and on to Minoan Crete. This may explain the presence of Sarasvati hieroglyphs on Meluhha tin ingots which might have been routed through Minoan Crete.
D.K. Chakrabari (1979, The problem of tin in early India--a preliminary survey, in: Man and Environment, Vol. 3, pp. 61-74) opines that during the pre-Harappan and Harappan periods, the main supply of tin was from the western regions: Khorasan and the area between Bukhara and Samarkand. The ancient tin mines in the Kara Dagh District in NW Iran and in the modern Afghan-Iranian Seistan could have been possible sources. Harappan metal-smiths used to conserve tin by storing and re-using scrap pieces of bronze, making low-tin alloys and substituting tin by arsenic. It is possible that some of the imported tin (like lapis lazuli) was exported to Mesopotamia. A cylinder seal of Gudea of Lagash (2143-2124 B.C.) read: "copper, tin, blocks of lapis lazuli-- bright carnelian from the land of Meluhha." (Muhly, J.D., 1976, Copper and Tin, Hamden, Archon Books, pp. 306-7).Tin is called van:ga and tin-working has possible association of chalcolithic cultures in Bengal (2nd millennium B.C.) with possible links with the culture of Thailand of the same period (Solheim, W.C., Sciene, Vol. 157, p. 896). Hegde suggests the possibility that water-concentrated placer deposits referred to as 'stream tin' (alluvial cassiterite or mineral tin) in the proximity of Aravalli and Chota Nagpur Hills might have also been the sources of tin.
The epigraphs on the two twin ingots found at Haifa in a shipwreck are the rosetta stones of the Indus script and help decode the epigraphs as Sarasvati hieroglyphs.

In the third millennium BCE (Before Common Era), a lot of ore trade was taking place across the seas, across the Persian Gulf from Melukkha. The ores obtained from Melukkha included copper and, yes, tin. Mesopotamian records show that tin also came from Melukkha (commonly identified with Sarasvati Civilization – earlier called Indus Valley Civilization). Melukkha may be comparable to Pali milakkha or Sanskrit mleccha. In Pali, Milakkha also means, 'copper'.
Three regions which traded with Mesopotamia: Meluhha, Magan and Dilmun (After PRS Moorey, 1994)

Melukkha (ancient India) could have been the early source of ancient tin. “There is an extensive belt of placer deposits in the Malay peninsula which stretches over a distance of 1000 miles. The location of the early tin mines is lost to history, but the first documented use of tin seems to be in Mesopotamia, followed soon by Egypt. The tin probably came in through the Persian Gulf, or down what would later be the Silk Route. Some tin has been found in central Africa, and could have supplied a small amount to Egypt. However, the earliest needs for the mineral must have been met by Indian sources, the material being carried westward by migrations from southern and eastern Asia toward the Mediterranean area or from nearby sources.”

This trade also should be related to the archaeologically attested fact that from Ban Chiang (Thailand) to Kultepe (Anatolia), there was an intense as well as an extensive search for tin. The use of tin is attested in Thailand to 3600 BCE (Before Common Era).

The ‘search for ancient tin’ was the subject of a symposium organized by Smithsonian Institution.

Bronze age in Thailand

“Archeological excavations in Thailand (Spirit Cave, Non Nok Tha) and northern Vietnam (Dongson, Hoabinh) reveal a major surprise: the first Southeast Asians had agriculture and pottery at the same time as the city-states of ancient Mesopotamia. In fact, evidence now suggests that rice was grown here a long time before it was grown anywhere else, and even the pottery found here may be the world's oldest. The most impressive discovery was made at Ban Chiang, a hill on Thailand's Khorat Plateau, in the early 1970s; this hill covered a village that was settled continuously, for more than three thousand years. 126 skeletons were discovered intact, buried with the pottery and metal tools it was thought they would need in the afterlife. One 4,000-year-old skeleton was nicknamed "Nimrod" because he showed all the marks of a mighty hunter; he was unusually tall, and buried with deer antlers, hunting weapons, and a necklace of tiger claws. Even the oldest graves contained bronze bracelets, bells and spearheads, dating back as far as 3600 B.C.! At this early date the Khorat smiths were doing better work than their Mesopotamian counterparts; by 3000 B.C. they figured out that the strongest bronze alloy is made by mixing 1 part of tin with nine parts of copper… Did the Far East get started on its own, without help from the West? Part of the controversy stems from the fact that in Iraq we can trace the development of metalworking from its earliest stages, while the bronze works found so far in Thailand are products of a fully developed metallurgy. Pro-Thai advocates argue that we have not yet figured out where Mesopotamia first got its tin, so if there was any transfer of metals and ideas, it was from east to west, not the other way around.”

Two shipwrecks were found with tin ingots; one was in Haifa, Israel and another was in Cape Gelidonia, southern Turkey (Anatolia). Two tin ingots found in Haifa, Israel contained epigraphs incised on the ingots. The epigraphs were roughly like these (excluding the ligatures):
Epigraph on Tin ingot1: X
Epigraph on Tin ingot 2: X
Considering that both the ingots were almost the same weight and had the same purity of tin, it may be surmised that the two glyphs preceding the ‘X’ were glyphonyms (that is, glyphs connoting the same message).

Let us also assume that the two glyphs are hieroglyphs with underlying homonyms (that is, similar sounding lexemes) of a language.

If the underlying language is a bharatiya language (that is from the ancient Melukkha (mleccha region), a surprising result emerges. The underlying lexeme is ‘ran:ku’

‘ran:ku’ connotes: liquid measure, antelope and also tin (ore).

The hieroglyphs may, therefore, be read:
ran:ku ‘liquid measure’; ran:ku ‘antelope’.

Both the glyphs may be decoded as denoting ‘tin’ (ore) to describe the nature of the ingots being moved on the ships to Haifa and to Cape Gelidonia.

Bronze age in Mesopotamia and Melukkha

There is evidence from a Mesopotamian epigraph of Gudea, the king of Lagash (circa 2100 BCE) that tin came from Melukkha (that is the region where bharatiya languages, such as mleccha (cognate, melukkha) were spoken; Mahabharata attests that Vidura and Yudhishthira spoke in mleccha).

"The amount of copper involved in this trade was quite considerable. One text from Ur (UET 5 796), dated to the reign of Rim-Sin of Larsa (1822-1763 BCE), records the receipt in Dilmun of 611 talents, 6 2/3 minas of copper (presumably from Magan). This shipment, according to the text, was weighed according to the standard of Ur, giving a modern equivalent of 18,333 kilograms (40,330 pounds) of copper. One-third of this copper was earmarked for delivery to of Ur, a merchant who had close connections with Magan and the Dilmun copper trade...This contact beween Metopotamia and the Indus Valley, the land of Melukkha, was clearly by sea and must have brought products across the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf. These products included the copper of Magan. Did they also include the tin of Afghanistan and Central Asia, perhaps the tin designated by Gudea, king of Lagash (now known to be a contemporary of Ur-Nammu, king of Ur, circa 2100 BCE), as the tin of Melukkha?" (James D. Muhly, 1995, Mining and Metalwork in Ancient Western Asia, in: Jack M. Sasson, ed. 1995, Civilizations of the Ancient Near East, Vol. III, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, pp. 1501-1521).
Tin in antiquity and tin from Meluhha
Sources of tin in India and Afghanistan (After Pennhallurick, 1986, maps 3 and 5)
"Tin from 'Meluhha'...According to the Larsa texts, merchants were there (in Mari and Lrsa) to purchase copper and tin: the copper came from Magan in Oman, via Tilmun (Bahrain), but the origin of the tin is left in question. Tin mines in north-west Iran or the Transcaucasus are highly unlikely. Fortunately, there is evidence for another tin source in texts from Lagash. Lagash, about 50 km east of Larsa, was of minor importance except under the governorship of Gudea (ca. 2143-2124 BC). His inscriptions indicate extensive trade: gold from Cilicia in Anatolia, marble from Amurra in Syria, and cedar wood from the Amanus Mountains between these two countries, while up through the Persian Gulf or 'Southern Sea' came more timber, porphyry (strictly a purplish rock), lapis lazuli and tin. (Burney, 1977, 86; Muhly, 1973, 306-7, 449 note 542; Muhly, J.D., 1973, Tin trade routes of the Bronze Age, Scientific American, 1973, 61, 404-13). One inscription has been translated:
Copper and tin, blocks of lapis lazuli and ku ne (meaning unknown), bright carnelian from Meluhha.
"This is the only reference to tin from Meluhha...either Meluhha was a name vague enough to embrace Badakhshan (the northernmost province of Afghanistan) as well as some portion of the Indian subcontinent including the Indus valley, or 'tin from Meluhha' means that the metal came from some port in Meluhha -- just as 'copper from Tilmun' means copper from elsewhere shipped through the island of Bahrain. Whichever interpretation is correct, the result is the same. Tin must have come from somewhere in India, or from elsewhere along a trade route down the Indus valley. India is not without its tin locations, rare though they are...The largest deposits in India proper are in the Hazaribagh district of Bihar. 'Old workings' are said to exist... (Wheeler, R.E.M., 1953, The Indus Civilization, CUP, 58)...Tin bronzes from Gujarat are at the southernmost limit of Indus influence. The copper could have come from Rajasthan, though copper ingots at the port of Lothal, at the head of the Gulf of Cambay, suggest imports from Oman or some other Near Eastern copper mining district. Tin supplying Harappa and Mohenjo-daro, most famous of the Indus cities, may have been sent overland to Lothal for export, though the scarcity of tin in the Indus cities makes this idea unconvincing.
"At Harappa, three copper alloys were used in the period 2500-2000 BC: copper and up to 2% nickel; copper and up to 5% nickel; copper with ca. 10% tin and a trace of arsenic. Ingots of tin as well as of copper were found at Harappa. (Lamberg-Karlovsky, C.C., 1967, Archaeology and metallurgy in prehistoric Afghanistan, India and Pakistan, American Anthropologist, 1967, 69, 145-62). The rarity of the metal is seen at Mohenjo-daro where, of 64 artifacts examined, only nine were of tin bronze. (Tylecote, R.F., 1976, A History of Metallurgy, The Metals Society, p. 11). Ingots of tin bronze have also been found at Chanhu-daro. Yet in spite of its scarcity, tin bronze was widely used. Its occasional abundance and, in the case of the bronzes from Luristan in southern Iran, the high quality of the tin bronzes produced, equally underline the fact that rich source of tin existed somewhere...
"The archaeological evidence from Afghanistan is not unequivocal...What is surprising is the discovery in 1962 of corroded pieces of sheet metal bearing traces of an embossed design and made of a low tin content bronze (5.15%)...The uncorroded metal is thought to have contained nearer 7% tin. (Caley, E.R., 1972, Results of an examination of fragments of corroded metal from the 1962 excavation at Snake Cave, Afghanistan, Trans. American Phil. Soc., New Ser. , 62, 43-84). These fragments came from the deepest level in the Snake Cave, contemporary with the earliest occupation dated by 14C to around 5487 and 5291 BC. (Shaffer, J.G., in Allchin F.R. and N. Hammond (eds.), 1979, The Archaeology of Afghanistan, Academic Press, 91, 141-4)...If this dating is acceptable, not only is this metal the earliest tin bronze known from anywhere, but it is also an isolated occurrence of far older than its nearest rival and quite unrelated to the main development of bronze age metallurgy...
"Even more exciting is the evidence from Shortugai. Since the discovery of the first Indus finds at Harappa in 1921, the sphere of influence of this civilization has been greatly extended, first southwards to Gujarat and the Makran coast of Baluchistan, and now into northern Afghanistan. In 1975, French archaeologists discovered on the surface at Shortugai, sherds of Indus pottery extending over more than a millennium - the whole span of the Indus civilization. (Lyonnet, B., 1977, Decouverte des sites de l'age du bronze dans le N.E. de l'Afghanistan: leurs rapports avec la civilisation de l'Indus, Annali Instituto Orientali di Napoli, 37, 19-35). The sites are clustered above the confluence of the Amur Darya and the Kokcha. Finds also included gold and, nor expectedly, much lapis lazuli. Particularly important is a Harappan seal bearing an engraved rhinoceros and an inscription which reinforces the belief that the site was a trading post. Shortugai is only 800 km from Harappa, as the crow flies, though the journey involves hundreds of kilometres of mountainous terrain through the Hindu Kush...Lyonnet's conclusion was that the most likely explanation for their existence was an interest in 'the mineral resources of the Iranian Plateau and of Central Asia', to which can now be added those of Afghanistan itself. Indus contacts extended well into Turkmenia where the principal bronze age settlements, such as Altin-depe and Namasga-depe, lie close to the Iranian border. Imports here include square and oval gaming-counters of Indian ivory, and decorated sticks, numerous at Mohenjo-daro, related to types described in Sanskrit texts as being used in fortune-telling. The flat daggers of southern Turkmenia also closely resemble Harappan types...
"A fine copper axe-adze from Harappa, and similar bronze examples from Chanhu-daro and, in Baluchistan, at Shahi-tump, are rare imports of the superior shaft-hole implements developed initially in Mesopotamia before 3000 BC. In northern Iran examples have been found at Shah Tepe, Tureng Tepe, and Tepe Hissar in level IIIc (2000-1500 BC)...Tin was more commonly used in eastern Iran, an area only now emerging from obscurity through the excavation of key sites such as Tepe Yahya and Shahdad. In level IVb (ca. 3000 BC) at Tepe yahya was found a dagger of 3% tin bronze. (Lamberg-Karlovsky, C.C. and M., 1971, An early city in Iran, Scientific American, 1971, 224, No. 6, 102-11; Muhly, 1973, Appendix 11, 347); perhaps the result of using a tin-rich copper ore. However, in later levels tin bronze became a 'significant element in its material culture' comparatble with other evidence from south-east Iran where at Shadad bronze shaft-hole axes and bronze vessels were found in graves dated to ca. 2500 BC. (Burney, C., 1975, From village to empire: an introduction to Near Eastern Archaeology, 1977, Phaidon). The richness of Tepe Yahha, Shahr-i-Sokhta, and Shadad, are all indicative of trade and 'an accumulation of wealth unsuspected from the area'. (Lamberg-Karlovsky, 1973, reviewing Masson and Sarianidi (1972) in Antiquity, 43-6)....Namazga-depe and neighbouring sites are a long way from the important tin reserves of Fergana...The origin of Near Eastern tin remains unproven; the geological evidence would favour the deposits of Fergana and the Tien Shan range..." (Penhallurick, R.D., 1986, Tin in Antiquity, London, Institute of Metals, pp. 18-32).
The picture of these two ingots 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:"A long-distance tin trade is not only feasible and possible, it was an absolute necessity. Sources of tin stone or cassiterite were few and far between, and a common source must have served many widely scattered matallurgical centers. This means that the tin would have been brought to a metallurgical center utilizing a nearby source of copper. That is, copper is likely to be a local product; the tin was almost always an import...The circumstances surrounding the discovery of these ingots are still rather confused, and our dating is based entirely upon the presence of engraves signs which seem to be in the Cypro-Minoan script, used on Cyprus and at Ugarit over the period 1500-1100 BCE. The ingots are made of a very pure tin, but what could they have to do with Cyprus? 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." (p.47)

Bronze age in Anatolia

“The tin ingots were too badly corroded to reveal their original shapes, but seabed evidence suggests that at least one was a rectangular bar.” Cf. details at:

“Evidence for trade in tin or cassiterite comes from the wreck found off the coast of Cape Gelidonia in southern Turkey; this find is dated to the Late Bronze Age (1200 BCE). About 16 kg of white material containing 14% SnO2 and 71% CaCO3 were recovered from the sea bed. This may represent corroded material from a tin ingot having a cross-section of about 6 cm sq. The cargo included copper and bronze ingots and scrap metal. The ship was travelling in a westerly direction and the suggestion is that it was a Syrian ship taking copper from Cyprus to the Mycenaen civilizations in Crete or Greece. This tin was certainly not obtained in Cyprus and should have been traded from more distant places and picked up at one of the ports of call. ." (R.F. Tylecote, 1976, A History of Metallurgy, London, The Metals Society, p.15). cf. shipwreck ca. 14th century BCE and finds of pure tin ingots at Uluburun at Copper and tin discovered on this ship would have made 11 tons of bronze ! These tin ingots could have been loaded at a a port on the Syrian coast, though the origin of tin ingots is unknown.

m0438at copper tablet
m1449Bct (obverse of inscription) Incised copper tablet (two sides) Markhor with head turned backwards 1801

m1452Act m1452Bct 2912

ran:ga, ran: pewter is an alloy of tin lead and antimony (an~jana) (Santali). ran:ku 'tin' (Santali) Tin, solder: ran:ga tin (Skt.); (Pkt.); ra~_g pewter, tin (P.H.); ra~_ga_ pewter, tin (P.H.); solder (Or.Bi.Mth.); ra_n. tin, solder (Ku.N.A.B.); ra~_k (Ku.); ra_n.o (N.); ra_n:ga tin (Or.); ra_n:ga_ solder (Or.); (OAw.); ranga tin (Si.)(CDIAL 10562). ra_n.(g)ta_ tinsel, copper-foil (B.)(CDIAL 10567). [cf. ren. cement for metallic objects (G.); ren.i_ ingot (L.)(CDIAL 10639).] ran: t.odor a wristlet of pewter (Santali.lex.) ran:ga = tin; splendour, brilliance, glow and glitter (Ka.lex.) ran:garincu = to mix or rub with the finger, as any liquid and a solid or semi-solid substance (Te.lex.)

ran:ga, ran:gada borax (Skt.); run. saline ground with white efflorescence, salt in earth (Kho.)(CDIAL 10563). run:got solution of saline earth (Kho.)(CDIAL 10573).

We will demonstrate that the symbols incised on the ingots are not Cypro-Minoan symbols but Harappan pictographs.

One archaeological fact is emphatic. Cyprus which was rich in copper had to import tin, to mix it with copper in the ratio of 1:10 to make bronze in 15th cent. BCE.

m-1336a 2515 (Mahadevan)
m-1097 (On this seal, the antelope appears in the middle of the inscription; it is apparently this pictograph that gets normalised as a 'sign', Sign 184 and variants].

m1341 2092 m0516At
m0516Bt 3398 m0522At m0522Bt 3378
Sign 249 Sign 252 and variants
This pictograph clearly refers to an antelope as depicted on the Mohenjodaro copper plate inscription: (m-516b shown).

Sign 182 is a stylized glyph denoting a ram or antelope: tagar (Skt.); rebus: takaram ‘tin’ (Ta.)

On each ingot, there are two signs as shown below:

[Let us refer to these signs as, 'antelope' and X]

[Let us refer to these signs as, X and 'mould' or ‘liquid measure’].
Liquid measure: ran:ku; rebus: ran:ku = tin; rebus: ran:ku = antelope. Thus both liquid measure glyph and antelope glyphs are graphonyms (graphically denoting the same rebus substantive: ran:ku, ‘tin’.

The three signs used have parallels in the inscriptions of the civilization; in m-1336 the 'antelope' pictograph appears together with the 'mould' pictograph; X sign occurs on many inscriptions with many variants elaborating it as a junction of four roads:

The Sign 249 which is shown on the second tin ingot of Haifa, Israel is a representation of an ingot, assuming that this shows an ingot is shaped like the one taken out of a mould. The X sign (with a ligatured perpendicular short linear stroke) is common on both the tin ingots.

ran:ku a species of deer; ran:kuka (Skt.)(CDIAL 10559). ra_n:kava made from the hair of the ran:ku deer (Ka.lex.) ra~_kat. big and boorish (M.)(CDIAL 10538). cf. ran:ka slow, dull (Skt.)(CDIAL 10538). cf. ro_hi a kind of deer (R.)(CDIAL 10870). rauhis.a, ro_his.a a kind of deer (Ka.lex.) ran:ku ‘antelope’ (Santali) ran:ku = a species of deer (Skt.); ran:kuka id. (Skt.)(CDIAL 10559). ra_n:kava belonging to the ran:ku deer (MBh.); made from the hair of the ran:ku deer, woollen (R.); coming from ran:ku (said of animals) (Pa_n. 4.2.100); a woollen cover or blanket (MBh.R.); ra_n:kava ku_t.a s'a_yin lying on a heap of woollen rags (MBh.); ra_n:kavajina a woollen skin; ra_n:kavastaran.a a woollen coverlet (R.); ra_n:kavastr.ta covered with a woollen rug (Skt.); ra_n:kavaka coming from ran:kiu (said of men) (Pa_n. 4.2.134); ra_n:kava_yan.a coming from ran:ku (said of animals) (Pa_n. 4.2.100). ran:ku a species of deer or antelope (Skt.lex.) ran:ku = a species of deer or antelope, the spotted axis (mare)(Ka.lex.)

kurunga = a kind of antelope; kurunga miga = the antelope deer (Pali); kulunga, kulanga (Skt.)(Pali.lex.) kulan:ga (MaitrS.); kulun:ga (TS); kuran:ga, kurun:ga (Pkt.); (Pali); kuran:g (P.); karam.gi_ (OG.); kura~g (G.); kurunga (Si.); kurangu the elk Rusa aristotelis (Si.)(CDIAL 3320). cf. kuran:g light chestnut colour (Kho.)(CDIAL 3321). kuran:ga = a species of antelope, antelope or deer (in general); kulun:ga = an antelope (VS 24; TS 5); kuran:gaka, kulan:ga = antelope; kuran:gama = an antelope; kuran:ga_yate to take the shape of an antelope (Skt.lex.) kurahu antelope (Kuwi), kuran:ga (Ka.) kulanga, kulunga = going in a herd, antelope (VS.); kulmi = a herd (TS. ii.4.5.2)

bharata = a factitious metal compounded of copper, pewter, tin (M.)

ran:ga, ran: pewter is an alloy of tin lead and antimony (an~jana) (Santali). ran:ku 'tin' (Santali) Tin, solder: ran:ga tin (Skt.); (Pkt.); ra~_g pewter, tin (P.H.); ra~_ga_ pewter, tin (P.H.); solder (Or.Bi.Mth.); ra_n. tin, solder (Ku.N.A.B.); ra~_k (Ku.); ra_n.o (N.); ra_n:ga tin (Or.); ra_n:ga_ solder (Or.); (OAw.); ranga tin (Si.)(CDIAL 10562). ra_n.(g)ta_ tinsel, copper-foil (B.)(CDIAL 10567). [cf. ren. cement for metallic objects (G.); ren.i_ ingot (L.)(CDIAL 10639).] ran: t.odor a wristlet of pewter (Santali.lex.) ran:ga = tin; splendour, brilliance, glow and glitter (Ka.lex.) ran:garincu = to mix or rub with the finger, as any liquid and a solid or semi-solid substance (Te.lex.)

ran:ga, ran:gada borax (Skt.); run. saline ground with white efflorescence, salt in earth (Kho.)(CDIAL 10563). run:got solution of saline earth (Kho.)(CDIAL 10573).

rakamu = an item or article (of an account); an amount of money; an appointed quantity; a piece (Ka.M.H.); rakamu va_ru = article by article, piece by piece (Ka.M.H.)(Ka.lex.) rakam (Arabic rakm) an item; an article; a sum, an amount, a number (G.lex.) rakam upa_d.vi_ to borrow a sum of money; rakam na_me lakhvi_ to sell on credit a sum of money or an article of value, and enter it in the account-book (G.lex.)
ran:ku ‘liquid measure (Mundari)
Sign 249 (170)
Sign 252 (51) and variants

r-an:ku, ran:ku = fornication, adultery (Te.lex.)
A bull mating with a cow. Seal impression (BM 123059). From an antique dealer in Baghdad. Cf. Gadd 1932: no. 18. m0489At m0489Bt m0489Ct
m0489At m0489Bt A standing human couple mating (a tergo); one side of a prism tablet from Mohenjo-daro (m489b). Other motifs on the inscribed object are: two goats eating leaves on a platform; a cock or hen (?) and a three-headed animal (perhaps antelope, one-horned bull and a short-horned bull). The leaf pictorial connotes on the goat composition connotes loa, the copulation motif connotes kamd.a; hence, the reading is of this pictorial component is: lohar kamar = a blacksmith, worker in iron, superior to the ordinary kamar, a Hindu low caste (Santali.lex.)]

Seal, Dilmun seal from Failaka island in the Gulf. A standing human couple mating (a tergo). [After Paul Kjaerum, 1983, Failaka/Dilmun: the second millennium settlements, I.1: the stamp and cylinder seals, Jutland Archaeological Society Publications, 17.1, Aarhus: no. 269]

Seal, Dilmun seal from Failaka island in the Gulf. A standing human couple mating (a tergo). [After Paul Kjaerum, 1983, Failaka/Dilmun: the second millennium settlements, I.1: the stamp and cylinder seals, Jutland Archaeological Society Publications, 17.1, Aarhus: no. 269]

Coitus a tergo. A symbolism which reurs on some SSVC inscribed objects. Cylinder-seal impression from Ur showing a squatting female. L. Legrain, 1936, Ur excavations, Vol. 3, Archaic Seal Impressions “It seems probable that these seals (with erotic art scenes) were products meant for a lower level of state officials (the owners of the country estates, for instance) instead of those living in town in close contact with the center of administration.” (Jack M. Sasson (ed.), Civilizations of the Ancient Near East, p. 2527).


(30) Sign 182 (43) h172B Field Symbol 36 (11)
Sign 183 (11) Copper tablets (10) Hare. Field symbol 16 (9) Hare = kulai (Santali) Rebus: kol 'metal of 5 alloys, pan~caloha' (Ta.)
V182 V184 Signs 182, 183, 184 The sign 182 is used on a copper plate epigraph and substitutes for an ‘antelope’ glyph.

What did the ‘X’ on the tin ingot epigraphs 1 and 2 connote?

X glyph which is common to epigraphs on both the tin ingots may refer to an ‘ingot’ or a dha_tu ‘mineral’.

X glyph connotes a cross over: da~_t.u = cross over; da.t.- (da.t.-t-) to cross (Kol.); da_t.isu – to cause to pass over (Ka.); da.t.- (da.t.y-) to cross (mark, stream, mountain, road)(Ko.); ta_t.t.uka to get over or through (Ma.); ta_n.t.u = to cross, surpass (Ta.)(DEDR 3158).

Thus, the entire epigraphs on both the two tin ingots may be read as: ran:ku dha_tu (tin mineral ore), indicating that the tin ingots are made out of the cassiterite ore, SnO2 (Sn is Latin stannum). Cassiterite (tin oxide) is also called tinstone (78.6% tin) and is perhaps derived from kassi-tira (Mesopotamian) or kasitram (Sanskrit); Greek kavo-irepos. Cassiterite stone is reddish brown or yellow or black in colour and may have crystals. Artha sastra (2:12:30) explains: "u_s.ara karbura pakva los.t,a varn.a va_ trapu dha_tu." The colour associated with kasitram may have led to the generic term, ran:ga ‘colour’ in many bharatiya languages. [Source of tinstone photograph:] Cassiterite is today found in alluvial deposits containing weathered grains and in La Paz/Colquiri areas of Bolivia in hydrothermal veins. Cassiterite is found as “placer” deposits, in a manner similar to gold nuggets in “placer” deposits. Ancient peoples recovered cassiterite by panning from streams. Caucasus highlands of Armenia, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand are also a source of tin. Brass is tinned copper with 15% of tin. Bronze tools containing about 10-15% tin alloyed with copper have been found in Ur, Mesopotamia and in Sarasvati civilization sites. Bronze was used to make spears, arrowheads, knives, sickles, and scythes. Together with lead, tin is used to make plumbing solder (tin-lead ratio 1:3). With antimony and copper, tin makes pewter. Evidence for Early Bronze Age Tin Ore Processing Laughlin and Todd in Materials Characterization Volume 45 Number 4 (Pages 269-273) October 2000: Abstract Excerpt: Recent discoveries related to ores from Kestel Mine in the Taurus Mountains of Turkey show how prehistoric miners used the magnetic properties of the black iron oxide to accomplish the difficult separation of cassiterite (tin oxide) from low-grade cassiterite ores. Excavations at the site of Göltepe - dating to the third millenium BC - have yielded hematite ore nodules containing a few percent or less of cassiterite and also a sequence of processed - ground and separated minerals. These findings establish Kestel/Göltepe as a viable cassiterite (ore) production site.
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Homeric times refer to tin along with ivory coming from India (V. Ball, 1880, A geologist's contribution to the History of Ancient India, in: Journal of Royal Geological Society of Ireland, Vol. 5, Part 3, 1879-89, Edinburgh, pp. 215-63). Ball reiterates Lassen's comment that the Greek word kassiteros was derived from kastira whereas Bevan feels (E.J. Rapson ed., 1921, The Cambridge History of India, Vol. I, Delhi, Indian Edn., S. Chand and Co., p. 351) that kastira was derived from kassiteros. Such a controversy also existed about a_raku_t.a in Sanskrit and oreichalkos in Greek ('mountain copper') which refer to brass. Pliny called this aurichalcum or golden copper (since brass is yellow) )(Pliny, Naturalis Historia, 34.2 and 37.44).
Monier-Williams' lexicon suggests that the root for kastira was ka_ns (to shine). There is a possibility that the root might have yielded kan:sa_ which means bronze or copper-tin alloy. (AV, 10.10.5: s'atam. kan:sa_h indicating the possible use of the metal as an exchange unit).
Rasa_rn.ava ( 7.112), text of circa 11th century CE (Common Era) explains the process of purifying tin or extracting tin from cassiterite:
"ma_hishyasthi chu_rn.ena va_patthanmu_tra sechana_t vangas’uddham bhavedagnau.” By the use of the powdered bones of buffalo in the crude molten tin and also spraying the urine/water on it the tin is purified in fire. Calcium and carbon-based bones were apparently used as flux.
ta_tu = powder, dust, pollen (Ta.); to.0 = powdery, soft (of flour or powdered chillies)(To.). There is a possibility that the early semant. Of ‘dha_tu’ was cassiterite, powdery tin mineral. upadha_tu an inferior metal, a semi-metal: ma_ks.ikam ta_rama_ks.ikam tustham ka_syam rati sindu_ram s'ila_jatu (Skt.)(Skt.lex.) siddha-rasa quick-silver (Ka.lex.) siddha-dha_tu quick-silver (Skt.); ore (as gold) (Ka.lex.) cittam < u =" ‘three-fold" ham =" Soma" a_ =" triparvan.a_" arma =" va_tapitta" tridha_tu_ni =" pr.thivya_dis.u" u =" to" uni =" to" u =" goring" i =" to">

[pdf file with images of the tiningot inscriptions and Sarasvati hieroglyphs is at Click on files. Click on tiningots.pdf]

Dr. S. Kalyanaraman

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