Image: Lynn Fawcett
Image: Lynn Fawcett

This is a pictograph of the awns of a barley plant. Hence, it is the noun barley.

Illustrative Text Reference:

Lothal: Seal: L-45 a: Jagat Pati Joshi and Asko Parpola, 1987: Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions: Volume 1: Page 248: Collections in India: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia.


Note the similarity, in Middle Egyptian, to Gardiner's sign M 34, which he translates as 'an ear of emmer'¹. Both emmer and barley can be used to brew beer. It would be impossible to distinguish between a pictograph of an ear of emmer and a pictograph of an ear of barley.

Indeed this difficulty is supported by reference to Champollion. Champollion states that his sign number 247 is a pictograph of an ear of wheat, but then expands the definition by listing barley, wheat and cereal².

It is therefore possible that this Indus symbol did not distinguish between barley and emmer.

Image Credit:

Barley: Lynn Fawcett, 2017.


1. A. H. Gardiner, 1957: Egyptian grammar: being an introduction to the study of hieroglyphs. 3rd Edition: Oxford: Griffith Institute, Ashmolean Museum: The 1071 hieroglyphs from Unicode 5.2, Appearance and sources: Accessed: 1 July 2017.


2. Jean-François Champollion le Jeune, 1841: Dictionnaire égyptien en écriture hiéroglyphique: Chapter 4: Manuscript Page 228: Firmin Didot, Paris.