Paleolithic cave paintings found in a corner of the NCR could be among the oldest | Latest India News

Archaeologists have discovered rock paintings in a rocky, forested corner of Haryana, not far from the nation’s capital, which they say belong to the Upper Paleolithic, which could make them some of the oldest rock art in the world. country.

The caves are nestled amidst a maze of quartzite rocks in the Aravalli mountain ranges, just outside the nation’s capital, and a stone’s throw from the region’s only patch of primary forest, a grove sacred called Mangar Bani.

While residents of Manger village and nearby villages such as Selakhari say generations have known about the paintings, it was only recently that the Haryana government’s Department of Museums and Archeology picked up on them. note. He sent a survey team to the area in the last week of June.

“So far the Delhi-NCR cave paintings have only been found here. Most of the prehistoric sites have been located in the Aravalli area. The paintings are not yet dated but at least some of among them presumably belong to the Upper Paleolithic period. We are looking at the paintings in continuity with the Soanian culture which was found in the hills of Shivalik, Narmada and Aravallis,” said Banani Bhattacharyya, Deputy Director of the Department of Archeology and museums.

The team encountered cave paintings including images of human, animal, foliage and geometric figurines, some that have faded over time, but others that are still very visible. He also encountered rock art and outdoor ceremonial sites. While some could be spotted out in the open, a majority of them are found on rock shelter ceilings.

The findings may well change the history of Haryana. The Upper Paleolithic age began about 40,000 years ago and lasted until about 10,000 years ago.

Bhattacharyya, who was part of the team, said the discovery was extremely important. “Although tools from the Paleolithic age were identified earlier in parts of the Aravallis, this is the first time that cave paintings and rock art on a large scale have been discovered in Haryana.”

Of course, the results must be validated, dated, revised and published.

The department plans to undertake further exploration in the area.

The caves and paintings themselves are reminiscent of Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh, home to the oldest known rock art in India, dating from the Mesolithic age (about 10,000 years ago).

Mangar rock art is between 20,000 and 40,000 years old, according to Bhattacharyya, but that is something that can be established through archaeological dating. Experts also use qualitative techniques, comparing the rock art to other rock art, and to that found in other excavations.

While explorations and excavations in the Aravallis have been undertaken in the past, this is the first time that the cave paintings at the current site have come to the attention of researchers. Bhattacharyya thinks the site may have remained relatively unknown over the years due to the thick vegetation.

“Stone Age tools and technology date from a particular period. We explore which tool belongs to which period. In sites like these, we can perform dating by studying the pigment. The pigment contains proteins (mainly organic matter) which can be dated. At present, we are dependent on typo-technological dating. Tools such as the hand cleaver, the blade, evolve with the types. From the Lower Paleolithic to the Middle Paleolithic then to the Upper Paleolithic, we see here the evolution. We also found important remains from the Lower Paleolithic to the Middle and Upper Paleolithic,” she explained.

Most paints are ocher, but some are white. Experts say cave paintings in white are usually of a later stage (early contemporary), while Stone Age paintings are most often ochre. “Stone Age paintings typically use red and ocher colors. Stones of these colors were once available locally and locals would grind the stones to prepare the color for paints,” Bhattacharyya said.

Paleolithic artefacts have been reported earlier in various parts of Delhi and Haryana. In 1985-86 Dilip Kumar Chakrabarty and Nayanjot Lahiri surveyed and mapped prehistoric sites in Delhi and Haryana. They plotted 43 sites. In 1986, AK Sharma discovered the Paleolithic site of Anangpur in Faridabad. ASI then undertook excavations at the site. Sharma was accompanied by former ASI Co-General Manager SB Ota and other experts from ASI’s prehistoric branch.

Ota said that while the Aravallis are known for their prehistoric remains dating back to the Lower Paleolithic, unlike central India and other places rich in rock paintings, no rock paintings have been found in Aravallis so far.

“The fact that engravings were part of Aravallis was known from earlier publications, but what was not known until now was the presence of paintings in rock shelters. The paintings were never washed away because of these rock shelters. We don’t know the date at the moment, but it clearly indicates that there must have been many more paintings that could have been destroyed over time,” he said.

Ota stressed the need for conservation after investigation and assessment of the significance of the paintings. “The Aravallis present the earliest evidence of the Stone Age which we call the Lower Paleolithic Acheulean culture. The area can be easily protected since the Aravalli Hills also enjoy the protection of various Supreme Court orders. This can be done after experts have assessed the cultural and archaeological value of the site.

The Aravalli are the oldest mountain range in India and the world and have been ravaged by time, the elements and, increasingly in recent decades, by man.

Ashok Khemka, Principal Secretary, Department of Government, Archeology and Museums, Haryana, said that while a team from the department has conducted a preliminary survey, further investigations will be undertaken as the site requires extensive documentation. He said the department will grant protection status to the Mangar forest. “We will certainly grant Mangar Bani Forest State protection under the Archaeological Law due to the presence of a large number of Stone Age rock paintings that have been found there. The paintings are around 20-30,000 years old. We will issue ordinances to protect the entire Mangar Bani Forest under Section 4 of the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Punjab and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 1964.

Khemka said his department plans to hire local academics for a thorough investigation. “We are going to hire a team of researchers who are experts in prehistoric cave paintings. Residents and some researchers from nearby universities will also be involved in the in-depth investigation.

Shalaish Baisla, an archeology student and independent researcher, said he spotted tools and rock paintings dating back to prehistoric times in Mangar. He added that the area needed immediate protection. “There are individuals who have business interests in the region. It is crucial that the site has protection, even before undertaking any research.

Residents of Mangar and other villages in the area say they know about the paintings, but have eluded them of their historical significance. Selakheri resident Hamid said, “We know these paintings must be quite old. It’s obvious if you look at them. However, one cannot understand or make sense of the symbols or writing. They have gathered dust over the years. He uses only one name.

Shaukat Ali, a septuagenarian, said he had seen the paintings over the years. “People go there regularly, especially women, to graze the goats or take routine walks. Caves are part of our lives…”

Sunil Harsana, an activist from the village of Mangar, said that although the forest needed protection, it was crucial to ensure that protection did not just remain on paper. “A heritage site has been discovered here. It is crucial that experts carry out the necessary investigations and ensure that people are made aware of the importance of the site. These sites must be protected so that future generations can understand the history of the region,” said Harsana.

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