Image: Iravatham Mahadevan
Image: Iravatham Mahadevan

This is a pictograph of eight counting rods. It is the numeral eight.

Illustrative Text Reference:

Harappa: Seal: H-10 a: Jagat Pati Joshi and Asko Parpola, 1987: Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions: Volume 1: Page 167: Collections in India: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia.


It is interesting to note that Mahadevan's sign number 114 resembles the layout of a tea brick. This is what is referred to in inscription H-10 as the foreigners' eighth. In other words, one eighth of a tea brick. The inscription tells us that this small measure of tea greatly facilitated trade in the barter economy. Hence, H-10 is a record of the use of tea as a currency.


According to Champollion, this symbol was also used for the numeral eight in Egyptian. He gives the Egyptian name for the city of Hermopolis as an example¹.

Speculation on the Weight of an Eighth:

There is a table on the Sizes website, which supports the theory of a regular pattern in the Indus weight system². Based on the Sizes table, my first suggestion is that the tea brick may have weighed around 1.365 Kg. It follows that the foreigners' eighth was around 170.6 g³.

Alternatively, photographs of modern tea bricks show half kilo bricks marked up with divisions of one eighth. This suggests a second possibilty, whereby the tea brick weighed around 546.5 g, and the foreigners' eighth was around 68.3 g.

Image Credit:

Indus Script Sign Number 114: Sign List of the Indus Script: Iravatham Mahadevan, 1977: The Indus Script: Texts, Concordance and Tables: The Director General Archaeological Survey of India.


1.  Jean-François Champollion le Jeune, 1841: Dictionnaire égyptien en écriture hiéroglyphique: Chapter 1: Manuscript Page 21: Firmin Didot, Paris.

2. Harappan Units of Weight: Accessed: 12 December 2016.

3. The size of the actual weight (VS 35 from Mohenjo-daro) was 174.5 grams: System of Weights at Mohenjo-daro (according to A. S. Hemmy): Appendix I: Weights at Mohenjo-daro: John Marshall, 1931: Mohenjo-daro and the Indus Civilization - Volume II: Page 596: Arthur Probsthain, London.