The Murghabo-Bactrian Archaeological Complex and the Indus Script

An interesting article in which the author discusses the existence of Indus-type seals in the Gulf and Mesopotamian regions, their relationship to trade and other civilizations in the area, including the Central Asian Bronze Age civilization now better known as the BMAC (Bactrio-Margiana Archaeological Complex). After carefully reviewing the evidence for Indus settlers in ancient Mesopotamia, and their use Indus-type seals whose signs are ordered in ways not found within the Indus region proper, she discusses the relationships they may still have had with Indus peoples back home and the role of different kinds of writing in this relationship. She uses this framework to speculate that the BMAC people, who are not known to have had writing although there a few tantalizing Indus-script artifacts have been found in the region, may have been involved with the Gulf-type seals: "Matters may well have been very much different for the Murghabo-Bactrians who had come to the Arabian Gulf and Southern Mesopotamia. There are no references to them being integrated like the Indus people, and we, therefore, do not know whether there may not have been a pressing need to learn how to speak and write the lingua franca of the Gulf or of the Near East for that matter. If Parpola is correct in suggesting that MBAC people spoke a pre-Indo-Aryan language, their limited (?) knowledge of the Indus script, most probably gained through their dealings with the Harappan back home, may have led to an adoption of a kind of ‘pidgin Harappan’. This may be the ‘pidgin Harappan’ what we encounter on the round Indus stamps and what may be the closest ‘translation’ of the language of the MurghaboBactrian people either into the Semitic/Sumerian mode of conversing or else into Meluḫḫan."

Images: Round stamp seals from the Gulf with bull iconography and Indus characters. 1) Qala’at al-Bahrain, Bahrain (by courtesy of P. Kjærum 1994: Fig. 1725); 2) Failaka, Kuwait (by courtesy of P. Kjærum 1983: no. 319); 3) Failaka, Kuwait (by courtesy of P. Kjærum 1983: no. 279).