The Indus Valley civilization was among the most progressed in the world for more than 500 years, with an ext than a thousand negotiations sprawling across 250,000 square mile of what is currently Pakistan and northwest India from 2600 BCE to 1900 BCE. It had actually several large, well-planned cities prefer Mohenjo-daro, common iconography—and a manuscript no one has actually been able to understand. 

Over at Nature, Andrew Robinson looks in ~ the reasons why the Indus valley script has actually been so difficult to crack, and details some recent attempts to decipher it. Due to the fact that we don"t know anything around the basic language and there"s no multilingual Rosetta stone, scholars have actually analyzed its structure for clues and compared the to various other scripts. Many Indologists think it"s "logo-syllabic" script favor Sumerian picture writing or Mayan glyphs. But they disagree around whether it was a spoken language or a full writing system; some think it stood for only component of an Indus language, Robinson writes. 

One team has produced the very first publicly available, digital corpus the Indus texts. Another, led by computer scientist Rajesh Rao, analyzed the randomness in the script"s sequences. Your results indicated it"s most similar to Sumerian cuneiform, which says it may represent a language. Check out the full write-up for more details.

The Indus Valley script is much from the only one to continue to be mysterious. Here are eight rather you might try your hand in ~ deciphering.

1. Direct A

In 1893, British excavator Sir Arthur Evans purchased some old stones v mysterious inscriptions on them at a flea industry in Athens. Top top a later trip come the excavations in ~ Knossos top top the island that Crete, he recognized one the the signs from his stones and began a research of the engraved tablet computers being uncovered at various sites ~ above the island. He uncovered two different systems, which he called Linear A and also Linear B. While straight B was deciphered in the at an early stage 1950s (it turned out to represent an early kind of Greek), straight A, above, has still not been deciphered.

2. Cretan Hieroglyphics

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This ancient writing device was used more than 5000 years back in what is currently Iran. Composed from appropriate to left, the manuscript is unlike any kind of other old scripts; while the proto-Elamites show up to have borrowed the idea for a created language from your Mesopotamian contemporaries, lock apparently invented their very own symbols—and didn"t stroked nerves to save track of them in an organized way, proto-Elamite expert and Oxford university scholar Jacob Dahl said the BBC in 2012. Around that time, he and his Oxford colleagues asked for help from the general public in deciphering proto-Elamite.

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They exit high-quality images of clay tablets covered in Proto-Elamite, hoping the crowdsourcing could decode them. Currently a collaboration involving numerous institutions, the project is ongoing.