⚡ Discover the mother of all crossword puzzles — ongoing attempts to decipher the ancient Indus script.

Rajesh Rao presenting his TED talk on a Rosetta Stone for a lost language — deciphering the ancient Indus scriptA Rosetta Stone for a Lost Language | TED talk by Rajesh Rao

The Indus script is the last remaining undeciphered ancient script — we have artefacts featuring Indus script but we’re yet to figure out what it all means.

Other ancient scripts have been deciphered in the past — Egyptian hieroglyphs in 1822, Sumerian cuneiform in 1857, Mayan hieroglyphs in 1952. These decipherments have been priceless, allowing us to discover an enormous amount about ancient civilisation. But the Indus script has continued to seem undecipherable.

The reason it seems undecipherable is that there exists no text that is written side-by-side in the Indus script and another language that we can read. The key to the decipherment of the Egyptian hieroglyphs was the Rosetta Stone, an ancient slab of rock discovered in Egypt in 1799 that was inscribed with a text written in both Egyptian hieroglyphs and Ancient Greek (a language that experts could already read).

This TED talk explores the alternative methods being employed to try and decipher the Indus script, mostly based around computer modelling. As the speaker Rajesh Rao puts it, it’s the mother of all crossword puzzles.