Image: Lynn Fawcett
Image: Lynn Fawcett

Seal H-166 is held to be of foreign origin¹. It has two engraved faces. The engraving are pictographic. In my opinion, the seal most probably produced address labels for an intriguing destination.

My hypothesis is that the half of the address label shown on the left is a pictograph of the stepped pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara in Egypt. The key identifying features are firstly, five step levels leading up to a sixth level which bears an Egyptian symbol for sun², and secondly the distinctive perimeter wall with its recessed design, which is presumably meant to convey the impression of fortifications. The orientation of the building on the seal, whereby northwest is conventionally placed at the top, matches that of the Djoser pyramid.

The second half of the address label (not shown here) depicts a figure, wearing a tunic, with the head of a bird of prey (a hawk or a falcon). It may depict a priest associated with the Egyptian god Horus. There are also two pictographs of pyramid fields. Lastly, on the falcon side of the seal are two symbols for water. It may be that the water represents the Nile Delta and the upper reaches of the Nile River, and thence the unification of the lands of Upper and Lower Egypt.


My conclusion is that goods may well have gone from or via Harappa to the temple complex at Saqqara in Egypt.

Illustrative Text Reference:

Harappa: Seal: H-166 a and b: Jagat Pati Joshi and Asko Parpola, 1987: Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions: Volume 1: Page 205: Collections in India: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia.


It is interesting to note that in his study of composite hieroglyphs, Henry Fischer states that buttressed walls may surround the name of a city³. Similarly, Champollion says that his symbol number 301 was used to enclose the names of cities subject to Egyptian control⁴. Therefore, this address label could have been influenced by Egyptian conventions.

Image Credit:

Pyramid of Djoser: Lynn Fawcett, 2017.


1. The seal is classed as an imported foreign object by Joshi and Parpola in the Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions.


2. Jean-François Champollion le Jeune, 1841: Dictionnaire égyptien en écriture hiéroglyphique: Chapter 1: Manuscript Page 4: Symbol Number 3: Firmin Didot, Paris.


3. Henry G. Fischer, 1978: The Evolution of Composite Hieroglyphs in Ancient Egypt: The Metropolitan Museum of Art Journal 12: Page 5.


4. Jean-François Champollion le Jeune, 1841: Dictionnaire égyptien en écriture hiéroglyphique: Chapter 5: Manuscript Page 274: Symbol Number 301: Firmin Didot, Paris.