Journey to the Past : The science of Epigraphy

Imagine walking through a maze with instructions written in a language we do not understand. In reconstructing the history of a civilisation, we work with very few clues - artefacts, buildings & archaeological findings. And if we are lucky we find some inscriptions. Unfortunately there is never a dictionary or scriptionary that would tell us what it is the meaning of the inscription. And so, in order to undertsand the contents we first need to reconstruct the script and then make sense of the contents. Egypt is the most famous example of script mysteries. And here is another. It is easy to be in awe of the minds of the scholars that finally figured out the codes and have given us not only translations but also evolution of the scripts across the ages. To see how difficult it must be, all we need to do is to stare at any one of the stone inscriptions below and without any other tools, attempt to figure out the contents! Quite an impossible task!  One might suggest that a single rock inscription is not enough - in that case let us take the whole set shown here. Then, would the conclusions be any easier to draw? Yest here we are today with a complete coding! Kudos to those who have accomplished this! The clues to understanding the civilisations of the past - in this case in the region of Kalinga, have been laid out before us as the first exhibit in the Epigraphy Hall in the State Museum of Orissa. Codes to deciphering bygone eras! And most of us pass these codes within a fraction of a second without a second glance..... IMG_2733 IMG_2734 IMG_2735 IMG_2736 IMG_2737 IMG_2740 IMG_2741  IMG_2743 IMG_2742 IMG_3002 IMG_3063 IMG_3064 IMG_3074 IMG_3075 IMG_3076 IMG_3078 IMG_3079 IMG_3083 IMG_3084 IMG_3088 IMG_3089 IMG_3101 IMG_3102 IMG_3103 IMG_3105 IMG_3091 What a treasurehouse of knowledge on this  single board! jm April 2013  


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