GURUGRAM: Stone-age carvings found in Aravalis in Gurugram

GURUGRAM: Stone-age carvings found in Aravalis in Gurugram

GURUGRAM: The trove of history that the Aravalis hold has widened with the latest discovery of stone carvings that archaeologists say date back to the Paleolithic period or the Stone Age.

The petroglyphs discovered in Badshapur Tethar village of Sohna include graffiti, and hand and footprints of humans and animals engraved on quartzite rocks. The site is atop a hillock and just 6km from Mangar, where cave paintings believed to be from the same period were discovered in 2021. The carvings, however, seem to be older, experts said. The Paleolithic era spans from about 25 lakh years to 10,000 BP (before present, the carbon dating marker that archaeologists use with 1950 treated as the base year).

Spread across a 2km radius, the latest site was discovered recently by Sunil Harsana, an ecologist and wildlife researcher. He informed the archaeological department about what seemed to be carvings from the Stone Age and requested a thorough examination of them. On Sunday, a team of archaeologists confirmed that the rocks indeed dated back to the Paleolithic period.
“Several tools and equipment used to make them were found at the site as well. Though the rocks have withered away with time and because of exposure to harsh weather conditions, the carvings are clearly visible,” Harsana told TOI.
The journey to the site is arduous. After an 80-minute trek, which involves negotiating thorny bushes that cling to the trail, sharp rocks and slippery pebbles, this correspondent reached the top of the hill where the rocks bearing the petroglyphs lay scattered.

There might have been, and could still be, more treasures waiting to be discovered in ancient ranges. Much might have been lost to mining, ground to dust in the cavernous pits carved into the hills. But on some of the pristine stretches, experts don’t rule out more such discoveries.

“These findings are remarkable examples of Indian prehistory. They mark the progress of human civilisation. I believe the carvings are more than 10,000 BP old. But the exact date can be ascertained only after a survey,” said Banani Bhattacharyya, deputy director of the Haryana directorate of archaeology and museums. “This gives us a chance to see how the earliest of humans developed tools. Most of the carvings are of animal paws and human footprints. There are some basic symbols, which had presumably been kept for some special purpose,” she added.

Divay Gupta, an adviser to the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), said, “These petroglyphs are highly significant, considering their antiquity can go to prehistory. These can be territorial, or used for ancient games or record-keeping. It is, however, difficult to date them exactly or ascribe them a definite function at the moment. But further studies should be done on them.”

Officials in the archaeological department said they would soon carry out an extensive survey of the area. “Yes, we are aware of the findings. This region is a cradle of human civilisation. If we look at the Saraswati-Sindhu civilisation, its full cycle began in this belt. There is evidence of pre-Vedic and Vedic existence as well. We will carry out surveys for further research,” said MD Sinha, the principal secretary (archaeology and museums).

Paleolithic paintings have been discovered in the region earlier. In 2021, the archaeological department discovered a 5,000-hectare site in Faridabad’s Mangar, where cave paintings were found along with rock shelters and tools.

Among the items that were found were pebbles and flake-based tools, hinting at a site where stone tools were manufactured — this ‘Acheulean’ industry was the first tradition of standardised tool-making, according to archaeologists. They also believe that the stone paintings could be the largest in the Indian subcontinent. In 2021, carvings similar to the ones discovered on Saturday were found in Kot village of Faridabad. There were also graffiti of birds, animals and human footprints.

The Aravalis have been a subject of pre-historic research for several decades. In 1986, stone paintings were discovered in Anangpur area of Faridabad. A total of 43 sites were traced then, prompting researchers to start surveys of the area every now and then.

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