Originally Posted by Bart Dale
The gap would make logical sense if the Persia invasion in the 5th century BCE :was the spur that inspired their own writing. When the Persians invaded, the Indians could see the benefit of writing for administration and business, and so adopted it themselves. If the Indian writing was created in the 5th BC, that would still be a couple centuries before the 1st inscription. Writing can develop quickly. A single Native American created a written language for his tribe the Cherokees after being exposed to English, even though he couldn't read English himself.
There is no clear time line of writing in the Indian subcontinent
We have the Sarasvati Civilization( Indus Valley) script. That civilization is dated around 3000 BCE.
Today we know it was a vast civilization, spreading from Central and north India to central Asia with well planned cities, canal systems, dockyards, and having a well developed knowledge of mathematics including geometry. They knew the decimal system, and designed precise weights and measures which were in exact proportions and ratios.
For images see: Ancient Indus Weights, Harappa.
It was a sea faring nation , with extensive sea trade with West and East Asia. In East Asia, the links to Easter Island have been noted as have the similarity in signs between the Rongo Rongo script and the Harappan script
Quite obviously they built ocean going ships which could transverse these great distance, and also they could navigate the open seas.
Their knowledge of astronomy is also indicated, and the constellation of the Great Bear or the Seven Rishis( seers) is found on a seal.
Recently a possible astronomical observatory has been found dated to that period. See article by Vahia and Menon below : A possible astronomical observatory at Dholavira M N Vahia1, 2 and Srikumar M Menon3
1 Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai
2 Manipal Advanced Research Group, Manipal University, Manipal, Karnataka
3 Manipal School of Architecture and Planning, Manipal University, Manipal, Karnataka http://www.tifr.res.in/~archaeo/papers/Harappan%20Civilisation/Observatory%20at%20Dholavira.pdf
I will suggest it is quite impossible, not to have a writing system, for even to record astronomical events, replicate the weights, or architecture, or ships or the sophisticated altars, would require the transmission of knowledge, and could not be left simply to an oral ‘ pass it down’ system.
It is an enigma, why such a sophisticated civilization, did not leave behind extensive records.
They knew burnt bricks, and would have known the art of baking bricks and could just as well have put the writing on Clay tablets as the Sumerians did and baked them to make them into permanent records.
They could just as well put inscriptions on walls or stone even if to say " Killjoy was here
The inscriptions found are short, on seals and only a few longer inscriptions.- Dholavir for example.
As writing existed in Sumer, and the two civilizations are supposed to be contemporaneous, , we should expect a simultaneous development of a writing system. .
Yet we do not find extensive writing records in the IVC civilization.
One explanation could be that they used to write on material that was perishable- Palm leaf, Bark, cloth, or paper.
These would not stand the ravages of time, especially the humid monsoon conditions of the Indian subcontinent.