Image: Iravatham Mahadevan
Image: Iravatham Mahadevan

Mahadevan's sign number 1059 is constructed in a similar way to the noun city. However, in this instance the four structures, which can be read as a pictograph of buildings interspersed with roads, are placed inside the soft structure of a contour or area. Hence this is an ideograph for an area of temporary residence. It is the noun caravanserai.

Illustrative Text Reference:

Mohenjo-daro: Seal: M-701 a: Sayid Ghulam Mustafa Shah and Asko Parpola, 1991: Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions: Volume 2: Page 41: Collections in Pakistan: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia.


One feature of some Indus signs is that they appear to have different layers of meaning. There is a second possible interpretation to this Indus sign, that is of four voices in an area. Whenever four voices are incorporated into a Chinese character, they denote a clamour. A clamour could be associated with a caravanserai.

Image Credit:

Indus Script Sign Number 1059: List of Sign Variants: Iravatham Mahadevan, 1977: The Indus Script: Texts, Concordance and Tables: The Director General Archaeological Survey of India.