Ancient India’s Links to Today
You may not have heard of Shu-ilishu but he is a man of great significance. He reaches out to us from almost 4,300 years ago, through a small Akkadian cylinder seal now housed at the Louvre Museum in Paris. On the seal, you will find an image of him talking to two men. The inscription describes Shu-ilishu as the interpreter of the Meluhhan language. ‘Meluha’ was, in all probability, the term used by ancient Mesopotamians for the Indus Valley region, and the presence of an official ‘interpreter’ there indicates just how important the steady flow of goods from the Indian subcontinent was.
Precious and vibrant lapis lazuli stones, carnelian beads, wood and even dogs would go across via old trade routes and ports like Lothal (in modern-day Gujarat) to Akkad, capital of the Akkadian Empire (3rd millennium BCE) and now in modern-day Iraq. There are also references to a settlement of Meluhhans in the city of Guabba in Sumer, in Mesopotamia.