Northeastern Iberian script
The northeastern Iberian script known as Levantine Iberian or Iberian because the Iberian script was the most used, was the main means of written expression of the Iberian language. The language is expressed by the southeastern Iberian script and the Greco-Iberian alphabet. To understand the relationship between northeastern Iberian and southeastern Iberian scripts, one should point out that they are two different scripts with different values for the same signs. However, it is clear they have a common origin and the most accepted hypothesis is that northeastern Iberian script was derived from the southeastern Iberian script; some researchers have concluded that it is linked to the Phoenician alphabet alone, but others believe the Greek alphabet had a role. All the paleohispanic scripts, with the exception of the Greco-Iberian alphabet, share a common distinctive typological characteristic: they represent syllabic value for the occlusives, monophonemic value for the rest of the consonants and vowels.
In a writing system they are neither alphabets nor syllabaries, but are rather mixed scripts that are identified as semi-syllabaries. The basic signary contains 28 signs: 15 syllabic and 8 consonantic; the northeastern script was nearly deciphered in 1922 by Manuel Gómez-Moreno Martínez, who systematically linked the syllabic signs with the occlusive values. The decipherment was based on the existence of a large number of coin legends that could be linked to ancient place names known from Roman and Greek sources. There are two variants of the northeastern Iberian script: the dual variant is exclusive to the ancient inscriptions from the 4th and 3rd centuries BCE and its distinctive characteristic is the use of the dual system; this system was discovered by Joan Maluquer de Motes in 1968 and allows differentiation of the occlusive signs between voiced and unvoiced by the use of an additional stroke. The simple sign represents the voiced value whilst the complex sign represents the unvoiced value.
The non-dual variant is exclusive of the modern inscriptions from the 2nd and 1st centuries BCE. The inscriptions that use the northeastern Iberian script have been found in the northeastern quadrant of the Iberian Peninsula: along the coast from Roussillon to Alicante, but with a deep penetration in the Ebro Valley; the northeastern Iberian inscriptions have been found on different object types, representing 95% of the total finds, nearly all the scripts were written from left to right. The oldest northeastern Iberian script date to the 4th or maybe the 5th century BCE; the modern ones date from the end of the 1st century BCE or maybe the beginning of the 1st century CE. In recent years four northeastern Iberian abecedaries or signaries have been published: the Castellet de Bernabé signary, the Tos Pelat signary, the Ger signary and the Bolvir signary, all of them belonging to the dual variant of the script. Greco-Iberian alphabet Iberian scripts Paleohispanic scripts Celtiberian script Southeastern Iberian script Tartessian script Paleohispanic languages Pre-Roman peoples of the Iberian Peninsula Correa, José Antonio: «Representación gráfica de la oposición de sonoridad en las oclusivas ibéricas », AION 14, pp. 253–292.
Ferrer i Jané, Joan: Novetats sobre el sistema dual de diferenciació gràfica de les oclusives sordes i sonores, Palaeohispanica 5, pp. 957–982. Ferrer i Jane Joan: «Els sistemes duals de les escriptures ibèriques», Palaeohispanica 13, pp. 451-479. Gómez-Moreno, Manuel: «De Epigrafia ibérica: el plomo de Alcoy», Revista de filología española 9, pp. 34–66. Hoz, Javier de: «El nuevo plomo inscrito de Castell y el problema de las oposiciones de sonoridad en ibérico», Symbolae Ludouico Mitxelena septuagenario oblatae, pp. 443–453. Maluquer de Motes, Joan: Epigrafía prelatina de la península ibérica, Barcelona. Quintanilla, Alberto: «Sobre la notación en la escritura ibérica del modo de articulación de las consonantes oclusivas», Studia Palaeohispanica et Indogermánica J. Untermann ab Amicis Hispanicis Oblata, pp. 239–250. Rodríguez Ramos, Jesús: Análisis de epigrafía íbera, Vitoria-Gasteiz. Untermann, Jürgen: Monumenta Linguarum Hispanicarum. III Die iberischen Inschriften aus Spanien, Wiesbaden. Velaza, Javier: Epigrafía y lengua ibéricas, Barcelona.
Media related to Iberian scripts at Wikimedia Commons The levantine Iberian writing- Jesús Rodríguez Ramos
Yuriy Valentinovich Knorozov was a Soviet linguist epigrapher and ethnographer, renowned for the pivotal role his research played in the decipherment of the Maya script, the writing system used by the pre-Columbian Maya civilization of Mesoamerica. Knorozov was born in a village Pivdenne near Kharkiv, at that time the capital of the newly formed Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic, his parents were Russian intellectuals, his paternal grandmother Maria Sakhavyan had been a stage actress of national repute in Armenia. At school, the young Yuri was a difficult and somewhat eccentric student, who made indifferent progress in a number of subjects and was expelled for poor and willful behaviour. However, it became clear. In 1940 at the age of 17, Knorozov left Kharkiv for Moscow where he commenced undergraduate studies in the newly created Department of Ethnology at Moscow State University's faculty of History, he specialised in Egyptology. Knorozov's study plans were soon interrupted by the outbreak of World War II hostilities along the Eastern Front in mid-1941.
From 1943 to 1945 Knorozov served his term in the second world war in the Red Army as an artillery spotter. At the closing stages of the war in May 1945, Knorozov and his unit supported the push of the Red Army vanguard into Berlin, it was here, sometime in the aftermath of the Battle of Berlin, that Knorozov is supposed to have by chance retrieved a book which would spark his interest in and association with deciphering the Maya script. In their retelling, the details of this episode have acquired a somewhat folkloric quality, as "...one of the greatest legends of the history of Maya research". The story has been much reproduced following the 1992 publication of Michael D. Coe's Breaking the Maya Code. According to this version of the anecdote, when stationed in Berlin, Knorozov came across the National Library while it was ablaze. Somehow Knorozov managed to retrieve from the burning library a book, which remarkably enough turned out to be a rare edition containing reproductions of the three Maya codices which were known—the Dresden and Paris codices.
Knorozov is said to have taken this book back with him to Moscow at the end of the war, where its examination would form the basis for his pioneering research into the Maya script. However, in an interview conducted a year before his death, Knorozov provided a different version of the anecdote; as he explained to his interlocutor, the Mayanist epigrapher Harri Kettunen of the University of Helsinki: "Unfortunately it was a misunderstanding: I told about it to my colleague Michael Coe, but he didn't get it right. There wasn't any fire in the library, and the books that were in the library, were in boxes to be sent somewhere else. The fascist command had packed them, since they didn't have time to move them anywhere, they were taken to Moscow. I didn't see any fire there." The "National Library" mentioned in these accounts is not identified by name, but at the time the library known as the Preußische Staatsbibliothek had that function. Situated on Unter den Linden and today known as the Berlin State Library, this was the largest scientific library of Germany.
During the war, most of its collection had been dispersed over some 30 separate storage places across the country for safe-keeping. After the war much of the collection was returned to the library. However, a substantial number of volumes, sent for storage in the eastern part of the country were never recovered, with upwards of 350,000 volumes destroyed and a further 300,000 missing. Of these, many ended up in Soviet and Polish library collections, in particular at the Russian State Library in Moscow. According to documentary sources, the so-called "Berlin Affair" is just one of many legends related to the personality of Knorosov, his student Ershova exposed it as a legend and reported, that documents of Knorosov, first of all his military card, could be a proof, that he did not take part in the Battle of Berlin and was in a different place, finishing his service in a military unit located near Moscow. In the autumn of 1945 after World War II, Knorozov returned to Moscow State University to complete his undergraduate courses at the department of Ethnography.
He resumed his research into Egyptology, undertook comparative cultural studies in other fields such as Sinology. He displayed a particular interest and aptitude for the study of ancient languages and writing systems hieroglyphs, he read in medieval Japanese and Arabic literature. While still an undergraduate at MSU, Knorozov found work at the N. N. Miklukho-Maklai Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, part of the prestigious Academy of Sciences of the USSR. Knorozov's research findings would be published by the IEA under its imprint; as part of his ethnographic curriculum Knorozov spent several months as a member of a field expedition to the Central Asian Russian republics of the Uzbek and Turkmen SSRs. On this expedition his ostensible focus was to study the effects of Russian expansionary activities and "modern" developments upon the nomadic ethnic groups, of what was a far-flung frontier world of the Soviet state. At this point the focus of his research h
The Indus script is a corpus of symbols produced by the Indus Valley Civilisation during the Kot Diji and Mature Harappan periods between 3500 and 1900 BCE. Most inscriptions containing these symbols are short, making it difficult to judge whether or not these symbols constituted a script used to record a language, or symbolise a writing system. In spite of many attempts, ` the script' has not yet been deciphered. There is no known bilingual inscription to help decipher the script, the script shows no significant changes over time. However, some of the syntax varies depending upon location; the first publication of a seal with Harappan symbols dates to 1875, in a drawing by Alexander Cunningham. Since over 4,000 inscribed objects have been discovered, some as far afield as Mesopotamia, as a consequence of ancient Indus-Mesopotamia relations. In the early 1970s, Iravatham Mahadevan published a corpus and concordance of Indus inscriptions listing 3,700 seals and 417 distinct signs in specific patterns.
He found that the average inscription contained five symbols and that the longest inscription contained only 14 symbols in a single line. Some scholars, such as G. R. Hunter, S. R. Rao, John Newberry, Krishna Rao, Subhash Kak have argued that the Brāhmī script has some connection with the Indus system, but others, such as Iravatham Mahadevan, Kamil Zvelebil and Asko Parpola, have argued that the script had a relation to a Dravidian language. F. Raymond Allchin has somewhat cautiously supported the possibility, that many supporters of the theory that Brāhmī derives from Aramaic influence consider that the Brahmi language can have some Indus script influence. Another possibility for continuity of the Indus tradition is in the megalithic culture graffiti symbols of southern and central India, which do not constitute a linguistic script but may have some overlap with the Indus symbol inventory. Early examples of the symbol system are found in an Early Harappan and Indus civilisation context, dated to as early as the 35th century BCE.
In the Mature Harappan period, from about 2600 BCE to 1900 BCE, strings of Indus signs are found on flat, rectangular stamp seals as well as many other objects including tools, tablets and pottery. The signs were written in many ways, including carving, chiseling and embossing, on objects made of many different materials, such as soapstone, shell, sandstone, copper and gold. Animals such as bulls, rhinoceros, water buffaloes and the mythical unicorn accompanied the text on seals to help the illiterate identify the origin of a particular seal. After 1900 BCE, the systematic use of the symbols ended, after the final stage of the Mature Harappan civilization. A few Harappan signs have been claimed to appear until as late as around 1100 BCE, the beginning of the Iron Age in India. Onshore explorations near Bet Dwarka in Gujarat revealed the presence of late Indus seals depicting a three-headed animal, an earthen vessel inscribed in what is claimed to be a late Harappan script and a large quantity of pottery.
The thermoluminescence date for the pottery is 1528 BCE. That evidence has been used to claim that a late Harappan script was used until around 1500 BCE; the characters are pictorial but include many abstract signs. The inscriptions are thought to have been written from right-to-left, but they sometimes follow a boustrophedonic style; the number of principal signs is about 400. Since, considered too large a number for each character to be a phonogram, the script is believed to instead be logo-syllabic. An opposing hypothesis, offered by Michael Witzel and Steve Farmer, is that these symbols are nonlinguistic signs, which symbolise families, clans and religious concepts and are similar to components of coats of arms or totem poles. In a 2004 article, Farmer and Witzel presented a number of arguments stating that the Indus script is nonlinguistic; the main ones are the extreme brevity of the inscriptions, the existence of too many rare signs and the lack of the random-looking sign repetition, typical of language.
Asko Parpola, reviewing the Farmer and Witzel thesis in 2005, stated that their arguments "can be controverted". He cited the presence of a large number of rare signs in Chinese and emphasised that there was "little reason for sign repetition in short seal texts written in an early logo-syllabic script". Revisiting the question in a 2007 lecture, Parpola took on each of the 10 main arguments of Farmer et al. presenting counterarguments for each. A 2009 paper published by Rajesh P N Rao, Iravatham Mahadevan and others in the journal Science challenged the argument that the Indus script might have been a nonlinguistic symbol system; the paper concluded that the conditional entropy of Indus inscriptions matched those of linguistic systems like the Sumerian logo-syllabic system, Rig Vedic Sanskrit etc. but they are careful to stress that by itself does not imply that the script is linguistic. A follow-up study presented further evidence in terms of entropies of longer sequences of symbols beyond pairs.
However, Sproat claimed that there existed a number of misunderstandings in Rao et al. including a lack of discriminative power in their model, argued that applying their model to known non-linguistic systems such as Mesopotamian deity symbols produced similar results to the Indus script
The Voynich manuscript is an illustrated codex hand-written in an unknown writing system. The vellum on which it is written has been carbon-dated to the early 15th century, it may have been composed in Northern Italy during the Italian Renaissance; the manuscript is named after Wilfrid Voynich, a Polish-Samogitian book dealer who purchased it in 1912. Some of the pages are missing, with around 240 remaining; the text is written from left to right, most of the pages have illustrations or diagrams. Some pages are foldable sheets; the Voynich manuscript has been studied by many professional and amateur cryptographers, including American and British codebreakers from both World War I and World War II. No one has yet demonstrably deciphered the text, it has become a famous case in the history of cryptography; the mystery of the meaning and origin of the manuscript has excited the popular imagination, making the manuscript the subject of novels and speculation. None of the many hypotheses proposed over the last hundred years has yet been independently verified.
In 1969, the Voynich manuscript was donated by Hans P. Kraus to Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, where it is catalogued under call number MS 408; the codicology, or physical characteristics of the manuscript, has been studied by researchers. The manuscript measures 23.5 by 16.2 by 5 cm, with hundreds of vellum pages collected into 18 quires. The total number of pages is around 240, but the exact number depends on how the manuscript's unusual foldouts are counted; the quires have been numbered from 1 to 20 in various locations, using numerals consistent with the 1400s, the top righthand corner of each recto page has been numbered from 1 to 116, using numerals of a date. From the various numbering gaps in the quires and pages, it seems that in the past the manuscript had at least 272 pages in 20 quires, some of which were missing when Wilfrid Voynich acquired the manuscript in 1912. There is strong evidence that many of the book's bifolios were reordered at various points in its history, that the original page order may well have been quite different from what it is today.
Radiocarbon dating of samples from various parts of the manuscript was performed at the University of Arizona in 2009. The results were consistent for all samples tested and indicated a date for the parchment between 1404 and 1438. Protein testing in 2014 revealed that the parchment was made from calf skin, multispectral analysis showed that it was unwritten on before the manuscript was created; the parchment was created with care, but deficiencies exist and the quality is assessed as average, at best. Some folios are thicker than the usual parchment thickness, such as folios 42 and 47; the goat skin binding and covers are not original to the book, but date to its possession by the Collegio Romano. Insect holes are present on the first and last folios of the manuscript in the current order and suggest that a wooden cover was present before the covers, discolouring on the edges points to a tanned-leather inside cover. Many pages contain substantial charts which are colored with paint. Based on modern analysis using polarized light microscopy, it has been determined that a quill pen and iron gall ink were used for the text and figure outlines.
The ink of the drawings and page and quire numbers have similar microscopic characteristics. Energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy performed in 2009 revealed that the inks contained major amounts of iron, potassium and carbon and trace amounts of copper and zinc. EDS did not show the presence of lead, while X-ray diffraction identified potassium lead oxide, potassium hydrogen sulphate and syngenite in one of the samples tested; the similarity between the drawing inks and text inks suggested a contemporaneous origin. The blue, red-brown, green paints of the manuscript have been analyzed using PLM, XRD, EDS, scanning electron microscopy; the blue paint proved to be ground azurite with minor traces of the copper oxide cuprite. The clear paint is a mixture of eggwhite and calcium carbonate, while the green paint is tentatively characterized by copper and copper-chlorine resinate. Analysis of the red-brown paint indicated a red ochre with the crystal phases hematite and iron sulfide. Minor amounts of lead sulfide and palmierite were present in the red-brown paint.
The pigments were considered inexpensive. Computer scientist Jorge Stolfi of the University of Campinas highlighted that parts of the text and drawings are modified, using darker ink over a fainter earlier script. Evidence for this is visible in various folios, for example f1r, f3v, f26v, f57v, f67r2, f71r, f72v1, f72v3 and f73r; every page in the manuscript contains text in an unidentified language, but some have extraneous writing in Latin script. The bulk of the text in the 240-page manuscript is written in an unknown script, running left to right. Most of the characters are composed of two simple pen strokes; some dispute exists as to whether certain characters are distinct, but a script of 20–25 characters would account for all of the text. There is no obvious punctuation. Much of the text is written in a single column in the body of a page, with a ragged right margin and paragraph divisions and sometimes with stars in the left margin. Other text occurs as labels associated with illustrations.
There are no indications of any errors or correc
Georg Friedrich Grotefend
Georg Friedrich Grotefend was a German epigraphist and philologist. He is known for his contributions toward the decipherment of cuneiform, he was born at Hann. Münden and died in Hanover, he was educated in his native town at Ilfeld, where he remained till 1795, when he entered the University of Göttingen, there became the friend of Heyne and Heeren. Heyne's recommendation procured for him an assistant mastership in the Göttingen gymnasium in 1797. While there he published his work De pasigraphia sive scriptura universali, which led to his appointment in 1803 as prorector of the gymnasium of Frankfurt, shortly afterwards as conrector. In 1821 he became director of the gymnasium at Hanover, a post which he retained till his retirement in 1849. Grotefend was best known during his lifetime as a Latin and Italian philologist, though the attention he paid to his own language is shown by his Anfangsgründe der deutschen Poesie, published in 1815, his foundation of a society for investigating the German tongue in 1817.
In 1823/1824 he published his revised edition of Helfrich Bernhard Wenck's Latin grammar, in two volumes, followed by a smaller grammar for the use of schools in 1826. In the same year he published a memoir on the coins of Bactria, under the name of Die Münzen der griechischen, parthischen und indoskythischen Könige von Baktrien und den Ländern am Indus, he soon, returned to his favourite subject, brought out a work in five parts, Zur Geographie und Geschichte von Alt-Italien. In 1836, he had written a preface to Friedrich Wagenfeld's translation of the Sanchoniathon of Philo of Byblos, alleged to have been discovered in the preceding year in the Portuguese convent of Santa Maria de Merinhão, but it was in the East rather than in the West. The cuneiform inscriptions of Persia had for some time been attracting attention in Europe. At this point Grotefend took the matter up, his first discovery was communicated to the Royal Society of Göttingen in 1802, reviewed by Tychsen two years afterwards.
In 1815 he gave an account of it in Heeren's work on ancient history, in 1837 published his Neue Beiträge zur Erläuterung der persepolitanischen Keilschrift. Three years appeared his Neue Beiträge zur Erläuterung der babylonischen Keilschrift, his discovery may be summed up as follows: that the Persian inscriptions contain three different forms of cuneiform writing, so that the decipherment of the one would give the key to the decipherment of the others that the characters of the Persian column are alphabetic and not syllabic confirmed Niebuhr's observation that they must be read from left to right that the alphabet consists of forty letters, including signs for long and short vowels that the Persepolitan inscriptions are written in Zend, must be ascribed to the age of the Achaemenian princes that a specific frequent word could refer to the Persian word for "king" that the inscriptions satisfy the two following schemes: A) X king, great king of king, son of Y king. A basis had now been laid for the interpretation of the Persian inscriptions.
However, lacking knowledge of old Persian, Grotefend misconstrued several important characters. Significant work remained to be done to complete the decipherment. Building on Grotefend's insights, this task was performed by Eugène Burnouf, Christian Lassen and Sir Henry Rawlinson; this work of Grotefend was spurred on by a simple bet. Friedrich August Grotefend, German philologist and relative of Georg Friedrich Champollion This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed.. "Grotefend, Georg Friedrich". Encyclopædia Britannica. Cambridge University Press. Media related to Georg Friedrich Grotefend at Wikimedia Commons
The Latin or Roman alphabet is the writing system used by the ancient Romans to write the Latin language. Due to its use in writing Germanic and other languages first in Europe and in other parts of the world, due to its use in Romanizing writing of other languages, it has become widespread, it is used in China and has been adopted by Baltic and some Slavic states. The Latin alphabet evolved from the visually similar Cumaean Greek version of the Greek alphabet, itself descended from the Phoenician abjad, which in turn derived from Egyptian hieroglyphics; the Etruscans, who ruled early Rome, adopted the Cumaean Greek alphabet, modified over time to become the Etruscan alphabet, in turn adopted and further modified by the Romans to produce the Latin alphabet. During the Middle Ages, the Latin alphabet was used for writing Romance languages, which are direct descendants of Latin, as well as Celtic, Germanic and some Slavic languages. With the age of colonialism and Christian evangelism, the Latin script spread beyond Europe, coming into use for writing indigenous American, Austronesian and African languages.
More linguists have tended to prefer the Latin script or the International Phonetic Alphabet when transcribing or creating written standards for non-European languages, such as the African reference alphabet. The term Latin alphabet may refer to either the alphabet used to write Latin, or other alphabets based on the Latin script, the basic set of letters common to the various alphabets descended from the classical Latin alphabet, such as the English alphabet; these Latin-script alphabets may discard letters, like the Rotokas alphabet, or add new letters, like the Danish and Norwegian alphabets. Letter shapes have evolved over the centuries, including the development in Medieval Latin of lower-case, forms which did not exist in the Classical period alphabet. English is the only major modern European language requiring no diacritics for native words, it is believed that the Romans adopted the Cumae alphabet, a variant of the Greek alphabet, in the 7th century BC from Cumae, a Greek colony in Southern Italy.
The Ancient Greek alphabet was in turn based upon the Phoenician abjad. From the Cumae alphabet, the Etruscan alphabet was derived and the Romans adopted 21 of the original 27 Etruscan letters: Latin included 21 different characters; the letter ⟨C⟩ was the western form of the Greek gamma, but it was used for the sounds /ɡ/ and /k/ alike under the influence of Etruscan, which might have lacked any voiced plosives. During the 3rd century BC, the letter ⟨Z⟩ – unneeded to write Latin properly – was replaced with the new letter ⟨G⟩, a ⟨C⟩ modified with a small vertical stroke, which took its place in the alphabet. From on, ⟨G⟩ represented the voiced plosive /ɡ/, while ⟨C⟩ was reserved for the voiceless plosive /k/; the letter ⟨K⟩ was used only in a small number of words such as Kalendae interchangeably with ⟨C⟩. After the Roman conquest of Greece in the 1st century BC, Latin adopted the Greek letters ⟨Y⟩ and ⟨Z⟩ to write Greek loanwords, placing them at the end of the alphabet. An attempt by the emperor Claudius to introduce three additional letters.
Thus it was during the classical Latin period that the Latin alphabet contained 23 letters: The Latin names of some of these letters are disputed. In general the Romans did not use the traditional names as in Greek: the names of the plosives were formed by adding /eː/ to their sound and the names of the continuants consisted either of the bare sound, or the sound preceded by /e/; the letter ⟨Y⟩ when introduced was called "hy" /hyː/ as in Greek, the name upsilon not being in use yet, but this was changed to "i Graeca" as Latin speakers had difficulty distinguishing its foreign sound /y/ from /i/. ⟨ Z ⟩ was given zeta. This scheme has continued to be used by most modern European languages that have adopted the Latin alphabet. For the Latin sounds represented by the various letters see Latin pronunciation. Diacritics were not used, but they did occur sometimes, the most common being the apex used to mark long vowels, which had sometimes been written doubled. However, in place of taking an apex, the letter i was written taller: ⟨á é ꟾ ó v́⟩.
For example, what is today transcribed Lūciī a fīliī was written ⟨lv́ciꟾ·a·fꟾliꟾ⟩ in the inscription depicted. The primary mark of punctuation was the interpunct, used as a word divider, though it fell out of use after 200 AD. Old Roman cursive script called majuscule cursive and capitalis cursive, was the everyday form of handwriting used for writing letters, by merchants writing business accounts, by schoolchildren learning the Latin alphabet, emperors issuing commands. A more formal style of writing was based on Roman square capitals, but cursive was used for quicker, informal writing, it was most c
James Prinsep FRS was an English scholar and antiquary. He was the founding editor of the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal and is best remembered for deciphering the Kharosthi and Brahmi scripts of ancient India, he studied and illustrated many aspects of numismatics, meteorology apart from pursuing his career in India as an assay master at the mint in Benares. James Prinsep was the seventh son and the tenth child of John Prinsep and his wife, Sophia Elizabeth Auriol. John Prinsep went to India in 1771 with no money and became a successful indigo planter, he returned to England in 1787 with a fortune of £40,000 and established himself as an East India merchant. He moved to Clifton in 1809 after incurring losses, his connections helped him find work for all his sons and several members of the Prinsep family rose to high positions in India. John Prinsep became a Member of Parliament. James went to study in a school in Clifton run by a Mr. Bullock but learnt more at home from his older siblings.
He showed a talent for detailed drawing and mechanical invention and this made him study architecture under the gifted but eccentric Augustus Pugin. His eyesight however declined due to an infection and he was unable to take up architecture as a profession, his father knew of an opening in the assay department at the mint in India and sent him to train in chemistry at Guy's Hospital and as an apprentice to Robert Bingley, assay master at the Royal Mint in London. Prinsep found a position as an assay master at the Calcutta mint and reached Calcutta along with his brother Henry Thoby on 15 September 1819. Within a year at Calcutta, he was sent by his superior, the eminent orientalist Horace Hayman Wilson, to work as assay master at the Benares mint, he stayed at Benares until the closure of that mint in 1830. He moved back to Calcutta as deputy assay master, when Wilson resigned in 1832, he was made assay master at the new silver mint designed in Greek revival style by Major W. N. Forbes, his work as assay master led him to conduct many scientific studies.
He worked on means for measuring high temperatures in furnaces accurately. The publication of his technique in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London in 1828 led to his election as a Fellow of the Royal Society, he suggested the possibility of visual pyrometric measurement using a calibrated series of mica plates as well as using the thermal expansion of platinum but considered that a practical approach was to use calibrated combinations of platinum and silver alloys placed in a cupel or crucible and observe their melting. He described a pyrometer that measured the expansion of a small amount of air held within a gold bulb. In 1833 he called for reforms to Indian weights and measures and advocated a uniform coinage based on the new silver rupee of the East India Company, he devised a balance so sensitive as to measure three-thousandth of a grain. James Prinsep continued to take an interest in architecture at Benares. Regaining his eyesight, he studied and illustrated temple architecture, designed the new mint building at Benares as well as a church.
In 1822 he conducted a survey of Benares and produced an accurate map at the scale of 8 inches to a mile. This map was lithographed in England, he painted a series of watercolours of monuments and festivities in Benares which were sent to London in 1829 and published between 1830 and 1834 as Benares Illustrated, in a Series of Drawings. He helped design an arched tunnel to drain stagnant lakes and improve the sanitation of the densely populated areas of Benares and built a stone bridge over the Karamansa river, he helped restore the minarets of Aurangzeb. When he moved to Calcutta, he offered to help complete a canal, planned by his brother Thomas but left incomplete by the latter's death in 1830. Thomas's canal linked the River Hooghly with branches of the Ganges further to the east. In 1829, Captain James D. Herbert started. Captain Herbert, was posted as Astronomer to the King of Oudh in 1830, leaving the journal to the editorship of James Prinsep, himself the primary contributor to it. In 1832 he succeeded H. H. Wilson as secretary of the Asiatic Society of Bengal and suggested that the Society should take over Gleanings in Science and produce the Journal of the Asiatic Society.
Prinsep became the founding editor of this journal and contributed articles on chemistry, numismatics and on the study of Indian antiquities. He was very interested in meteorology and the tabulation of observations and the analysis of date from across the country, he worked on the calibration of instruments to atmospheric pressure. He continued to edit the journal until his illness in 1838 which led to his leaving India and subsequently his death. Many of the plates in the journal were illustrated by him. Coins were Prinsep's first interest, he interpreted coins from Bactria and Kushan as well as Indian series coins, including "punch-marked" ones from the Gupta series. Prinsep suggested. Prinsep reported upon the native punch-marked coinage, noting that they were better known in eastern India; as a result of Prinsep's work as an editor of the Asiatic Society's journal and copies of inscriptions were transmitted to him from all over India, to be deciphered and published. The first successful attempts at deciphering Brahmi were made in 1836 by Norwegian scholar Christian Lassen, who used the bilingual Greek-Brahmi coins o