The Khambat Story

In 1293 CE, Marco Polo visited a port town called ‘Cambaet’ or Khambat in Gujarat and wrote In 1468, three decades before Vasco da Gama reached Malabar, a Russian horse-dealer named Afanasy Nikitin too reached there and was impressed with the riches. The Economic Times has an article on this city, which is no longer […]

New Paper: Entropy, the Indus Script, and Language: A Reply to R. Sproat

Recently Rajesh Rao et al applied statistical tests to Indus scripts and concluded that the script has the same entropy as a linguistic system; this contradicted the “illiterate Harappan theory” which has been in circulation since 2004. Previously too scholars disagreed with the “illiterate Harappan theory” and have published point-by-point rebuttals, but this new statistical […]

Dead Sea Scrolls and Proton Beams

Given a particle accelerator and the Dead Sea Scrolls, what would you do? If you are from Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare in Italy, you would send proton beams of 1.3 MeV into one square centimeter pieces of the scroll to find out if they were created elsewhere and bought to Qumran. At the LANDIS […]

Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction

A new award — Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction — will be awarded on June 19th at the Borders Book Festival. Sarah Dunant, one of the finalists, explains why Historical fiction is the genre of the moment. Toni Morrison’s astonishing imagination enriched our understanding of slavery. Sarah Waters’s gay adventures rewrote the sexual history […]

The sign board at Dholavira

While various techniques are being applied to decipher the Indus script, there is an even more fundamental debate on if the Indus people were literate or not. The average length of a seal is five symbols; the longest single-sided inscription has seventeen signs. One probable use of Indus seals was in economic activity; the seals […]

In Pragati: Better than Hoogly Slush

In the winter of 1846 – 47, Henry David Thoreau looked out of his small self-built house in Walden and saw a hundred Irishmen with their American bosses cutting ice slabs from the pond. On a good day, he noted, a thousand tonnes were carted away. These ice slabs went not just to New Orleans […]

Searching for the Historical Jesus (2)

For the faithful, the Bible is the word of God; for the historian it is not since there are major discrepancies among gospels. For example, the genealogy of Jesus differs among the gospels of Mathew and Luke. Also in Mark, the followers don’t recognize him as the Messiah until much later while in John, it […]

Searching for the Historical Jesus

To find if there was a historical Jesus, scholars who study the gospels apply a number of techniques to sift through theology and miracles to find if there is a kernel of truth. Thomas Sheehan’s Historical Jesus is an excellent introduction to the methodology. Since searching for this Historical Jesus a popular topic, a large […]

Stone inscription with Indus signs

(Indus Signs from a earlier find in Dholavira) An inscription on stone, with three big Indus signs and possibly a fourth, has been found on the Harappan site of Dholavira in Gujarat. The discovery is significant because this is the first time that the Indus script has been found engraved on a natural stone in […]