"One's natural reaction when faced with a set of symbols on an ancient artifact is to assume that the symbols were some sort of writing. In the absence of a convincing decipherment, by what criteria could one draw this conclusion? Now suppose one has a writing system, and someone presents you with a proposed decipherment. How should you evaluate that decipherment?" Sproat said. "Unfortunately, these questions are not asked as often as they should be when ancient symbol systems are discussed. One of the goals of this workshop is to raise awareness on these matters."
The following topics will be presented at the workshop:
- Ceci n'est pas une pipe: A Reappraisal of the non-Cuneiform Texts from Early Iran
Jacob Dahl, Max-Planck Institute for the History of Science
- The Strange Case of the So-Called Indus Script: Distinguishing Writing from non-Linguistic Symbols
- The Language or Languages of the Indus Civilization
Michael Witzel, Harvard University
- Is the Indus Script Indeed Not a Writing System
Asko Parpola, University of Helsinki
- Unsupervised Analysis for a Collection of Decipherment Problems
Kevin Knight, Information Sciences Institute, USC
- Decipherment as Alignment
Gerald Penn, University of Toronto
- Decipherment, Pseudodecipherment and the Phaistos Disk
Richard Sproat, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The workshop is funded in part by the National Science Foundation and the Rastegar Family Endowment.