Mature Harappan seal, Indus Valley, 2550-1900 BC



Breaking a secret code is very different from deciphering ancient writings. Although a key into the script is required, such as the Rosetta Stone, a knowledge of the ancient language and culture is also needed. For example, although the Meroitic script has been deciphered, the language it writes cannot be understood as yet. Many scripts, such as Mayan hieroglyphs and Linear B, have been successfully deciphered but much work remains to be done. The signs on seals like this from the flourishing trading civilisations of the Indus Valley still await decipherment ­ only the discovery of more artefacts will heighten the chances of a breakthrough.