Nov. 27, 2018

Iravatham Mahadevan, one of the world’s leading scholars on the Indus Valley Script and Tamil Brahmi script, passed away in Chennai at the age of 88 after a brief illness.


  • Iravatham Mahadevan (1930 – 2018) was an Indian civil servant and an epigraphist.

  • Civil services: He joined the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in 1954 and took voluntary retirement in 1980 after holding various positions in the Central and Tamil Nadu governments.

  • Epigraphist: He is known for his successful decipherment of Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions and for his expertise on the epigraphy of the Indus Valley Civilization.
    • ‘The Indus Script - Texts, Concordance and Tables,’ compiled by him and published by the Archaeological survey of India in 1977, continues to be an indisputable resource for Indus Valley scholarship.

    • His work ‘Early Tamil Epigraphy’, published by the Central Institute of Classical Tamil as a thoroughly revised version in 2014, is regarded as the most authoritative work on early South Indian epigraphy.

    • He established the Indus Research Centre at the Roja Muthiah Research Library with his personal funds.

  • Fellowships: He was awarded the –
    • Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship in 1970 for his research in Indus script.

    • National Fellowship of the Indian Council of Historical Research in 1992 for his work on Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions.

  • Positions held:
    • In 1998, he was elected the president of the Annual Congress of the Epigraphical Society of India.

    • In 2001 he became the general president of the Indian History Congress.

    • In 1987, he became the Editor of the Tamil daily, Dinamani.

  • Awards:
    • He received the Padma Shri award from the Government of India in 2009 for arts.

    • He received the Tolkappiyar award for lifetime achievement in classical Tamil by the Government of India for the year 2009–2010.

    • He received the Campbell Medal by the Asiatic Society of Mumbai in 2014.

Source : The Hindu