Image: Lynn Fawcett
Image: Lynn Fawcett

On the right is the Wagon of Heaven asterism with star names⁴.

The symbol on the left is based on the Wagon of Heaven asterism in the modern constellation of Ursa Minor.

The Wagon of Heaven is listed in the Babylonian star catalogues as

mulMAR.GÍD.DA.AN.NA¹, where the circumpolar stars are classed as being in the Path of Enlil (the god of earth)². However, MUL.APIN is a compilation³, so the Wagon of Heaven may be a much older asterism. The existence of this symbol in the Indus script supports that view.

Image: Lynn Fawcett
Image: Lynn Fawcett

Illustrative Text Reference:

Harappa: Seal: H-513 a: Sayid Ghulam Mustafa Shah and Asko Parpola, 1991: Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions: Volume 2: Page 286: Collections in Pakistan: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia.

Comments:

There is only one extant example of this Indus sign.

 

In inscription H-513, the Wagon of Heaven is followed by the four areas symbol, then the noun wainwright. The three characters together should probably be translated as year round wainwright.

From Asterism to Indus Symbol:

Image: Lynn Fawcett
Image: Lynn Fawcett

With the exception of winter (which the scribe may have drawn at a different angle in order to avoid the ear on the motif), the base of the cart in the star map aligns with the base of the cart and the straight shaft in the Indus symbol.

The stars that comprise the Wagon of Heaven asterism are circumpolar stars. The diagram on the left illustrates how the position and orientation of the asterism changes with the season in relation to Thuban, which was the pole star in 2787 BCE⁵.

Image: Lynn Fawcett
Image: Lynn Fawcett

The Indus symbol (above) appears to be derived by taking a simplified version of the wagon in each of the four seasons, and placing those four pictographs in a stack, so that they reflect the changing position of the asterism throughout the year.


Image: Lynn Fawcett
Image: Lynn Fawcett

Lastly, you should note that the orientation of the Indus symbol is that for a sky map. North is at the top, east is to the left, and west is to the right.



Image Credits:

Wagon of Heaven: Indus Symbol; Indus Symbol with Seasons; Indus Symbol with Cardinal Directions; Asterism with Star Names; Circumpolar Stars in 2787 BCE: Lynn Fawcett, 2019.

Notes:

1. Hermann Hunger and David Pingree, 1989: MUL.APIN: An Astronomical Compendium in Cuneiform: i20, Page 24: Archiv für Orientforschung, Beiheft 24: Verlag Ferdinand Berger & Söhne GmbH, A-3580 Horn, Austria.

2. Ibid. Astronomical Commentary, Pages 137 and 139.

3. Ibid. Introduction, Page 9.

4. Lynn Fawcett, 2019: The stars included in the asterism are based upon my assumption with reference to the composition of the Indus symbol, and the appearance of an actual cart.

5. The position of the asterism was mapped based on the sky view from Harappa in 2787 BCE, at solar midnight on 21 March, 21 June, 23 September, and 22 December using the Sky Map program available at Your Sky: https://www.fourmilab.ch/yoursky/: Accessed: 20 April 2019.