The discovery of rock carvings believed to be tens of thousands of years old in India's the western state of Maharashtra has greatly excited archaeologists who believe they hold clues to a previously unknown civilisation.
The rock carvings – known as petroglyphs – have been discovered atop hillocks in the Konkan region of western Maharashtra. Mostly discovered in the Ratnagiri and Rajapur areas. A majority of the images etched on the rocky, flat hilltops remained unnoticed for thousands of years. They are the material proof that the Indian civilization is over 10,000 years old.
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Inspired by this impressive archaeological find, I spoke with the person responsible for this find Dr Tejas Garge, the director of the Maharashtra state archaeology department.
He not only responded to my questions but also shared his paper titled: “Discovery of Petroglyphs in Ratnagiri District, Maharashtra: A Fresh Perspective on DarkAge of Konkan ( Tejas M. Garge, Rhutvij R. Apte, Sudhir Risbud and Dhananjay Marathe).
The discovery of rock carvings believed to be tens of thousands of years old in India’s the western state of Maharashtra has greatly excited archaeologists who believe they hold clues to a previously unknown civilisation.
The way the petroglyphs have been drawn, and their similarity to those found in other parts of the world, have led experts to believe that they were created in prehistoric times and are possibly among the oldest ever discovered.
These prehistoric engravings found along more than 250 kilometres of the Konkan coast represent human figures, animals and geometric designs, for example, elephants, rhinos, deer, pigs, cattle, rabbits, buffaloes, tigers, wild boars, monkeys, birds, sharks, rays, turtles, alligators, abstract prints, the mother goddess, etc.
Our first deduction from examining these petroglyphs is that they were created around 10,000BC said the director of the Maharashtra state archaeology department. In addition, he expressed “We have not found any pictures of farming activities. But the images depict hunted animals and there’s detailing of animal forms. So this man knew about animals and sea creatures. That indicates he was dependent on hunting for food.”
Garge’s department will also look for evidence of the people who made the carvings. The figures are found only on windswept hills that flood during monsoons, places where there would be no refuge. The carvers would have had to come to these places on purpose to make the drawings.
Researchers began digging a cave about 30 kilometres away and found microliths like those in the hills, as well as other larger Stone tools. “We hope to find more refuge sites near the petroglyphs,” said Garge.
Many of the local communities are rightly proud of the discoveries on their land and can see the opportunities it may present in terms of visitors, tourism, and the subsequent boost to the local economy. However, everyone involved needs to pull together and jointly ensure the safeguarding of these sites under often challenging circumstances.
(The author is based in Argentina and has several books published in her name including, the short novel based on this discovery — The Infinity in one Sound, The lost civilization of Ratnagiri. Views are personal.)