Weekly Photo Challenge: Alphabets in Stone

The weekly photo challenge offers us a prompt every Friday to interpret with photos. This week, the challenge urges us to find a string of letters out in the open.

My mind was taken back immediately to all the old inscriptions on stone that I have seen during my travels. These were records of activities that were done by people- kings, ministers, commoners- that still survive to tell us the tale.

Fascinating Animal in Brahmi Script in Stupa 2

I most recently travelled to Bhopal to see the ancient Buddhist monuments at Sanchi. This carving got my attention immediately because the animal was strange (it seems to be a mix of an elephant, a deer,a horse and maybe a bull). But above it was an inscription in the ancient Brahmi script- an early writing system in use in the Indian subcontinent from 3rd century BCE to about the 6th century CE. In fact the inscriptions at Sanchi were key to help decipher the entire script.

Inscriptions in the Great Tanjore Temple

Exactly a year ago, I visited the Brahadeesvara Temple in Tanjore- a spectacular edifice in stone which has inscriptions where King Raja Raja Chola describes how he built the temple in the early 11th century CE. The inscriptions are in Tamil though anyone who reads Tamil today will have a hard time reading the script because of how it has evolved over the centuries.

Inscriptions on the Arch of Titus

This magnificent inscription lies in the centre of Rome on the arch of Titus- a triumphal arch that was built by Titus’ brother Domitian shortly after the former’s death in order to commemorate his victories (most notably the sack of Jerusalem in 70 AD). The inscription reads


which roughly translates into “The Senate and the People of Rome dedicate this monument to the Divine Augustus Titus Vespasianus, son of the Divine Vespasian”.



10 Comments Add yours

  1. Tara R. says:

    A wonderful choice for this challenge.

    1. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      Thank you so very much. Seemed apt!

    1. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      Thank you so much!

  2. nivs24 says:

    The animal mix is so curiously interesting.

  3. Well done for getting the translation.

    1. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      Latin translations are the easiest! I wish I could translate the other two!

  4. Nirmala says:

    Very interesting !

    1. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      Thank you!

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