Q: Your excavations of the pre-Indus people, at Rehman Dheri and so forth, what do you think the implications are for understanding the Indus people?
A: In Rehman Dheri, we do have town planning, we have pottery which shows continuity between Rehman Dheri and the Indus Civilization. With terracotta there is a change, no doubt, but there is some continuity, in designs there is some continuity with what we call the Kot Diji [pre-Indus] and the Indus Civilization. This is no doubt true. But we do not find any seal, we do not find any writing. We have got, no doubt, the forms, engravings, or just scrapings on the pottery. But we do not have a system in the pre-Mohenjo-daro period. The system only evolved in the Indus Civilization. Certainly the shapes are there [earlier]; when you write you have to borrow from the older shapes, that is no doubt true. Even the weight system we do not find earlier. Weights, measure and the writing, the base of the economy is not there earlier, although town planning and architecture is there earlier. Pottery, stoneware, some playthings also continue, but what makes the Indus Civilization is the political economy is not found beforehand. So even today I call it pre-Indus Civilization and Indus Civilization, although many of my friends call it the early Indus Civilization.
We do not know how the writing evolved. I think it was as the trade developed, writing was necessary. Writing was already known in Mesopotamia. So if I am trying to develop writing in my country, it is not necessary that I should use your symbol. I will give you an example. I went to Korea, and there I started reading a Korean book. The moment I saw their alphabet I said what is this alphabet? They said this is an alphabet invented by our King in the 15th century A.D. I said nonsense, I can tell you the whole origin from my country! But what has happened, they have not taken the syllables from my country, but based on that they have evolved their own symbols, perhaps done even better, with verticals and horizontals. Where we have got circles, they don't have circles at all. Wherever there was a curved circle, they made it a vertical. I said I can trace this.
So if writing in the Indus Civilization is derived from Western Asia, it is not necessary that the symbols come from that place. We can use our own symbols. But the basic principle comes from there.
Q: Although now I think the evidence is more that the writing here was an indigenous development.
A: Could be, it is possible. But indigenous development on the basis of the basic principle [from Western Asia]. Because we do not find development from the pictograph right up to the logo-syllabic writing that we know was used in the Indus Civilization. We do not find the earlier one, which is known to us in Mesopotamia, it is known to us in Egypt. Here we find directly logo-syllabic writing. Hence, they must have known about the logo-syllabic writing then in use in Mesopotamia with whom they had trade connections, and then evolved their own, on the same basis. This is what I am maintaining: that as we do not find from the simple pictograph developing into logo-syllabic in Indus Civilization, but we find it in Mesopotamia, and therefore some wise man, some intellectual here in this region must have known that here is a system of writing, why not evolve our own on the same basis.
Q:It may just be that we haven't excavated enough to find the development.
A: Quite possible, that is no doubt true, tomorrow we may find something and change our opinion.