Image: Iravatham Mahadevan
Image: Iravatham Mahadevan

There is only one extant example of this Indus sign. It is not associated with any other Indus character or motif.

A similar sign can be found in Champollion's dictionary. Champollion says that the symbol is the proper name for Egypt: Land of the Sycomore¹.

My hypothesis is that the sign is a combination of the symbol for sycomore and a pictograph of the skyline of the Giza pyramid complex.

Ficus sycomorus is also known as the Pharaoh's fig. It is associated with a tree deity, the goddess Hathor.

Image: Lynn Fawcett
Image: Lynn Fawcett

The skyline on the sealing is the view that would have been seen when approaching from one of the ports on the Gulf of Suez (possibly Ain Sokhna). The land slopes gently upwards to the southwest (left side of the sealing above). Menkaure with a height of 65.5 metres² was the smallest pyramid, and Khufu with a height of 146.6 metres³ was the largest. However, according to Clark and Tyson, Khafre at 136.4 metres would have appeared taller because it was built on higher bedrock and with steeper sides than Khufu's pyramid⁴.


If my interpretation of this Indus sign is correct, it raises the fascinating question of whether the inhabitants of Kalibangan were exporting goods to Egypt, and perhaps more specifically to the temples of Giza.

Illustrative Text Reference:

Kalibangan: Seal: K-53 a: Jagat Pati Joshi and Asko Parpola, 1987: Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions: Volume 1: Page 308: Collections in India: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia.

Image Credits:

Indus Script Sign Number 232: Sign List of the Indus Script: Iravatham Mahadevan, 1977: The Indus Script: Texts, Concordance and Tables: The Director General Archaeological Survey of India.


The Sycomore and the Giza Pyramid Complex: Annotated sign: Lynn Fawcett, 2017.


1.  Jean-François Champollion le Jeune, 1841: Dictionnaire égyptien en écriture hiéroglyphique: Chapter 4: Manuscript Page 180: Firmin Didot, Paris.


2. Liesl Clark and Peter Tyson, 2011: Transcript: Menkaure Pyramid: Nova Online: Explore Ancient Egypt: Accessed: 22 January 2017.


3. Height of the pyramid based on Petrie's data from 1883: J. H. Cole, 1925: Determination of the Exact Size and Orientation of the Great Pyramid of Giza: Survey of Egypt Paper No. 29: Government Press, Cairo.


4. Liesl Clark and Peter Tyson, 2011: Transcript: Khafre 3 and Giza Plateau 3: Nova Online: Explore Ancient Egypt: Accessed: 22 January 2017.