Ancient Indus Valley script might soon be decoded by computer program

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Sydney, August 29 (ANI): A recent research has determined that an ancient, indecipherable text from the Indus Valley civilization is being decoded with the help of a computer program.

According to a report by ABC News, though it has yet to decrypt this mysterious language, the program may help to decipher other ancient texts whose meanings have been long since forgotten.

"The computer program operates on sequences of symbols, so it can be used to learn a statistical model of any set of unknown or known texts," said Rajesh Rao, University of Washington professor of computer science and co-author of the research paper.

"In fact, such statistical models have been used to analyze a wide variety of sequences ranging from DNA and speech to economic data," he added.

Roughly 5,000 seals, tablets and amulets, filled with about 500 different symbols, were created somewhere between 2600 and 1900 B.C. by a people living in the Indus River Valley.

Despite numerous attempts to decipher the symbols, a full translation has long eluded scientists.

In fact, one recent paper even cast doubt on whether the Indus Valley script was even a written text at all, but rather political or religious symbols.

To start the search for what meaning the text might hold, American and Indian scientists input the symbols into a computer program and ran a statistical analysis of the symbols and where they appear in the texts.

With that information, the program can do many things including creating new, hypothetical Indus Valley texts, fill in missing symbols in existing texts, and tell the scientist if a particular text has been generated by their computer model.

"We used the latter to show that the Indus texts that have been discovered in West Asia are statistically very different from the texts found in the Indus Valley, suggesting that the Indus people used their script to represent different content or language when living in a foreign land," said Rao.

For now, however, the Indus Valley script, along with many other ancient texts, remains indecipherable, but scientists are hopeful that computers will eventually decode the symbols on them.

"I am however optimistic that given a few more years, we may be able to at least narrow down the language family of the script by using computer analysis to gain an in-depth understanding of the underlying grammar," said Rao. (ANI)

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