Asko Parpola

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Asko Parpola
Asko Parpola.jpg
Born 1941 (age 74–75)
Occupation Indologist and Sindhologist

Asko Parpola (born 1941) is a Finnish Indologist and Sindhologist, current professor emeritus of Indology and South Asian Studies at the University of Helsinki. He specializes in the Indus script.


Parpola is a brother of the Akkadian language epigrapher Simo Parpola.[1] He is married to Marjatta Parpola, who has authored a study on the traditions of Kerala's Nambudiri Brahmins.[2]


Parpola's research and teaching interests fall within the following topics:

  • Indus Civilization / Indus script and religion / Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions
  • Veda / Vedic ritual / Samaveda / Jaiminiya Samaveda texts and rituals / Purva-Mimamsa
  • South Asian religions / Hinduism / Saiva and Sakta tradition / Goddess Durga
  • South India / Kerala / Tamil Nadu / Karnataka
  • Sanskrit / Malayalam / Kannada / Tamil / Prehistory of Indian languages
  • Prehistoric archaeology of South Asia and (in broad sense) Central Asia / Coming of the Aryans

Two significant contributions of Parpola, to the field of decipherment of the Indus script, are the creation of the now universally used classification of Indus valley seals, and the proposed, and much-debated, decipherment of the language of the script.[3]

Dravidian hypothesis[edit]

Main article: Indus script

According to Parpola the Indus script and Harappan language are "most likely to have belonged to the Dravidian family".[4][5] Parpola led a Finnish team in the 1960s-80s that vied with Knorozov's Soviet team in investigating the inscriptions using computer analysis. Based on a proto-Dravidian assumption, they proposed readings of many signs, some agreeing with the suggested readings of Heras and Knorozov (such as equating the "fish" sign with the Dravidian word for fish "min") but disagreeing on several other readings. A comprehensive description of Parpola's work until 1994 is given in his book Deciphering the Indus Script.[6]


Asko Parpola received the Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi Classical Tamil Award for 2009 on June 23, 2010 at the World Classical Tamil Conference at Coimbatore.


  • 1994: Deciphering the Indus Script, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 9780521430791
  • 2015: The Roots of Hinduism: The Early Aryans and the Indus Civilization, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-022692-3
  • 2008: Is the Indus script indeed not a writing system? In: Airāvati: Felicitation volume in honour of Iravatham Mahadevan: 111–31. VARALAARU.COM, Chennai.


  1. ^ Helsinki University
  2. ^ Freeman, Rich; Parpola, Marjatta (April 2004). "Kerala Brahmins in Transition: A Study of a Namputiri Family". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 124 (2): 385. doi:10.2307/4132247. Retrieved 29 July 2015 – via JSTOR. (subscription required (help)). 
  3. ^ Mahadevan Interview: Full Text
  4. ^ Edwin Bryant. The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate. Oxford. p. 183. ISBN 9780195169478. 
  5. ^ The Hindu, Underlying language of Indus script, Proto-Dravidian: Asko Parpola
  6. ^ Asko Parpola (1994), Deciphering the Indus script, Cambridge University Press

External links[edit]