About Rajesh

Bio

Rajesh Rao directs the Neural Systems Laboratory at the University of Washington, Seattle. His research interests span artificial intelligence, neuroscience, brain-machine interfacing, and ancient scripts.

Languages

English, Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu

TED Conference

TED2011

Areas of Expertise

Artificial Intelligence, Neuroscience, robotics, Brain-computer interfaces, Ancient scripts, Indian miniature painting

Talk to me about

Science, technology, politics, history, ancient scripts, Indian art

Comments & conversations

95207
Rajesh Rao
Posted over 2 years ago
Rajesh Rao: A Rosetta Stone for a lost language
Yes, you are correct -- seals were used to create impressions on clay tags, many of which have been found at Indus sites such as Lothal. And there is indeed a difference in the orientation of symbols between seals and the sign board/copper tablets.
95207
Rajesh Rao
Posted over 2 years ago
Rajesh Rao: A Rosetta Stone for a lost language
As stated in the talk, the computer simulations were used to unravel syntactic patterns in the script, not its semantics -- if this wasn't clear in the talk, please read the review article: http://homes.cs.washington.edu/~rao/ieeeIndus.pdf and other papers at: http://homes.cs.washington.edu/~rao/indus.html The semantic interpretations were included at the very end of the talk to illustrate alternate approaches and to pay tribute to Dr. Parpola, who is a good friend.
95207
Rajesh Rao
Posted almost 4 years ago
Rajesh Rao: A Rosetta Stone for a lost language
Thank you for your comments and questions. More details about how the Indus script sequences were modeled can be found in: http://www.cs.washington.edu/homes/rao/PNASIndus.pdf http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0009506 The following is a review article on this work: http://www.cs.washington.edu/homes/rao/ieeeIndus.pdf There have been surprisingly few items of Mesopotamian origin discovered in Indus valley sites. This suggests that either the imported items were perishable items or the trade was predominantly one-way (from the Indus valley to the Persian Gulf and the Middle East).
95207
Rajesh Rao
Posted about 4 years ago
Rajesh Rao: A Rosetta Stone for a lost language
Thanks for making the point about hydraulic engineering -- I was not able to mention this in the talk due to the time limit. The achievements of the Indus civilization in this regard are indeed quite remarkable. More information and photos illustrating some of these achievements, such as the "Great Bath", can be found at: http://www.harappa.com/indus/8.html
95207
Rajesh Rao
Posted about 4 years ago
Rajesh Rao: A Rosetta Stone for a lost language
>In both languages, the script mixes phonetic and ideographic functions. >Is there any thought as to whether the Indus script follows a similar approach? Yes, the Indus script is believed to be a logosyllabic script, i.e., some symbols may represent words or determinatives (semantic markers) while others might stand for syllables. This inference is based on the estimated number of distinct Indus signs (approximately 400), which is too large for the script to be alphabetic, syllabic, or an abugida (alphasyllabic like current Indian/South Asian scripts).
95207
Rajesh Rao
Posted about 4 years ago
Rajesh Rao: A Rosetta Stone for a lost language
1) Researchers are not using Tamil or any particular present-day Dravidian language but a reconstructed form of "Proto-Dravidian" that could have been spoken several thousand years ago. A good resource for such research is Burrow and Emeneau's Dravidian Etymological Dictionary -- available online at: http://dsal.uchicago.edu/dictionaries/burrow/ 2) The new finds are interesting but not universally accepted by scholars as Indus script symbols.
95207
Rajesh Rao
Posted about 4 years ago
Rajesh Rao: A Rosetta Stone for a lost language
I was not intending to make any political statements with that map or any map in the talk. The maps were created by graphic designers at TED based on creative commons images, with a focus on the Indus civilization rather than recent political disputes.
95207
Rajesh Rao
Posted about 4 years ago
Rajesh Rao: A Rosetta Stone for a lost language
Certainly possible, though we would need to find good explanations for the different variants of the fish sign such as fish with a "roof" on top of it, fish with a dot or bar inside it, etc. Along related lines, Steve Bonta and Bryan Wells have suggested that the fish sign and its variants might represent different measures of weight.