Evidence for Indus script in Southeast Asia?

Fragmentary inscriptions found on pottery sherds recovered from Phu Khao Thong in Thailand have been likened to the Indus Script from India, a Bronze Age writing system used up until 1,900 BCE. However, Alison points out the evidence is quite tenuous since the Indus writing and the site from which the pottery sherd is found in is almost 2,000 years apart, and the difficulty of assigning the symbols to a specific system based on only two examples.

Indus-like inscription on South Indian pottery from Thailand
The Hindu, 08 April 2010

A fragmentary pottery inscription was found during excavations conducted by the Thai Fine Arts at Phu Khao Thong in Thailand about three years ago. (Dr. Berenice Bellina of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France, sent me a photograph of the object: Figure 1)

The discovery of a Tamil-Brahmi pottery inscription of about the second century CE at the same site was reported earlier ( The Hindu, July 16, 2006). One can presume that the present inscription is also from the Tamil country and belongs approximately to the same period. The two characters incised on the pottery now reported are not in the Brahmi script. They appear to be graffiti symbols of the type seen on the South Indian megalithic pottery of the Iron Age-Early Historical Period (second century BCE to third century CE).

What makes the discovery exciting is that the two symbols on the pottery resemble the Indus script, and even the sequence of the pair can be found in the Indus texts, especially those from Harappa.


Related Posts

Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *