Rajaram and the ‘Earliest Writing’ Fiasco

    The pottery “tablet” from Harappa that N. S. Rajaram claims to have “deciphered”  (see our cover story in the 13 October 2000 story in Frontline Magazine) was the lead illustration in a BBC Online article by Dr. David Whitehouse entitled Earliest Writing found.The article was original published on 4 May 1999.

The illustration shown in that story was obtained by the BBC from the Harappa.com website maintained by Omar Khan, and was not checked before publication by Dr. Richard Meadow or by anyone else on the American-Pakistani excavation team that made the discovery. It is critical to note that the image shown on the BBC webpage – supposedly “deciphered” by Rajaram –  is not the example of the “earliest writing” discovered by Meadow and his team. The genuine example of the earliest writing, a potsherd with  a triple trident motif dating to sometime between 2800 and 3500 BC, can be seen at Harappa.com at: earliest Harappan writing.

After being informed of the BBC error, instead of simply admitting his own mistake, Rajaram launched into a remarkable diatribe on the Hindutva propaganda website (ironically known as the “Sword of Truth”), that violently assaulted Dr. Meadow for clarifying the BBC error! That clarification was made in a message sent out to Indologists via the Indology email list (used for communicating information quickly on Indian topics by Western and Indian scholars).

The “earliest writing” fiasco is typical of Rajaram’s “scientific” methodology. Obviously, no serious researcher would ever base his conclusions on unverified claims made in an online journalist’s report. Rajaram’s willingness to pass on as “authoritative” statements from the popular press about major archaeological finds, ignoring what the archaeologists themselves have to say, speaks volumes about his lack of credibility in the field. 

M. Witzel and S. Farmer,
with data from R. Meadow

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