Save this one for when you have time to sit back and really absorb it. Rajesh Rao, a professor in the University of Washington Computer Science & Engineering department, is leading a charge to use computer modeling to figure out what he calls the “mother of all crossword puzzles” — the undeciphered script of the Indus Valley civilization, which existed some 4,000 years ago.

Rajesh Rao

Despite the civilization’s large size, we know very little about it today, and the hope is that deciphering the script could provide new insights, or at least new clues.

Rao talked about the effort at this year’s TED conference, in March, and the video above was just recently made available online.

“Why should we care?” he saus. “The Indus civilization does not belong to just the South Indians or the North Indians or the Pakistanis; it belongs to all of us. These are our ancestors — yours and mine. They were silenced by an unfortunate accident of history. If we decipher the script, we would enable them to speak to us again. What would they tell us? What would we find out about them? About us? I can’t wait to find out.”

Also see this IEEE Computer article by Rao about the research. This version of the video on the TED site comes with an interactive transcript for navigation.

(Via UW CSE News)

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