Meluhha: A Visible Language.
Meluhha: A Visible Language
Sarasvati Research Center
3 Temple Avenue, Chennai 600015
9780991104819, $39.90, 812 pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Meluhha: A Visible Language" makes path-breaking contributions to understanding links of life-activities with language, art and written communication for 3 millennia from ca 4th millennium BCE. The change in paradigm of art appreciation is hermeneutics -- hermeneuo, 'translate' or 'interpret' -- of ancient texts. "Meluhha: A Visible Language" shows most of the early art forms and symbols not as abstractions but founded on underlying, meaningful speech and as innovations to match artificers' inventions, which define the transition from chalcolithic age to bronze age, particularly in the Ancient Near East. Masterpieces of bronze-age art demonstrate Meluhha semantics. "Meluhha: A Visible Language" is a tribute to the artisans of the Bronze-age Indo-Eurasia who laid the foundations for 1) an industrial revolution with the invention of tin-bronzes and brass and 2) a cultural revolution with the invention of writing systems. The glyphs of early writing systems of Bronze-age in Ancient Near East, represent a visible language of Meluhha. A synonym of 'visible language' is 'incised speech' takshat vaak, (a metaphor used in what is possibly the oldest human document, the Rgveda.). Meluhha were sea-faring merchants and artisans working in tin, zinc, copper and other bronze-age alloying minerals (attested in cuneiform texts). Meluhha settlements are also attested in Ancient Near East archaeology. Meluhha Smithy denotes the divine space, a temple. Implements produced in a smithy and repertoire of a smithy denote attributes of the divine. This world-view of Meluhha is discerned from hundreds of cylinder seals with hundreds of hieroglyphs - as visible language or incised Meluhha speech. A list of Meluhha glosses evidenced in Indian sprachbund is presented. A list of languages and dialects listed in Indo-Aryan, Dravidian and Munda lexicons annexed to the list constitutes a resource base for identifying and clustering semantics of Meluhha. The intimations of semantics conveyed by Meluhha cipher should be augmented by further language explorations and studies to detail the grammatical features of Meluhha/mleccha language.
Critique: Meluhha or Melukhkha is the Sumerian name of a prominent trading partner of Sumer during the Middle Bronze Age. Its identification remains an open question. Complex, comprehensive, amazingly detailed and documented, "Meluhha: A Visible Language" is a seminal work of seminal scholarship and a very strongly recommended contribution to academic library Archaeology, Linguistics, and Indo-Eurasian Studies collections.