A new discovery of rock carvings in the state of Maharashtra in western India could be more than 12,000 years old and give clues to humanity\’s past.
According to BBC journalist Mayuresh Konnur, these are petroglyphs belonging to a c̳i̳v̳i̳l̳i̳z̳a̳t̳i̳o̳n̳ unknown to date. The carved rocks, known as petroglyphs, were discovered in the sierras of the Konkan region in western Maharashtra. The discovery was made mainly in the areas of Ratnagiri and Rajapur, of which most of the images recorded in the rocky hills have remained hidden for thousands of years.
Most of the drawings were under layers of earth and mud, but some were outdoors and were sacred and revered by locals in some areas. The great variety of sizes in the rock amazed the experts: they represent animals, birds, human figures and geometric designs. The way the rock carvings were made and their resemblance to those found in other parts of the world have led experts to believe that they were created in prehistoric times and are perhaps among the oldest ever discovered.
“The first thing we deduced from examining these petroglyphs is that they were created around 10,000 BC,” the director of the archeology department of Maharashtra, Texas Garge told the BBC. Credit for the discovery was taken by a group of explorers led by Sudhir Risbood and Manoj Marathe, who began searching for the images after finding them in the area. Many were found in the village temples and were part of the local culture.
“We walked thousands of miles, people started sending us pictures, and several schools also joined in our effort to find them. The students asked their grandparents and other village elders if they knew of any other footprints, which gave us a lot of valuable information, ”Sudhir Risbood told the BBC.
They found rock carvings around 52 villages in the area. But until then only five villages knew that the images existed. In addition to actively seeking them, Risbood and Marathe also played an important role in documenting the petroglyphs and persuading authorities to participate in the study and conservation.
Garge says the images appear to have been created by a hunter-gatherer community who was unfamiliar with agriculture. “We have not found anything about agricultural activities, but the drawings show hunted animals and not the details of other forms of animals. So this man knew about animals and sea creatures. This indicates that it depended on hunting for food. ”
Shrikant Pradhan, an art historian and researcher at Deccan College in Pune, India, who has studied petroglyphs closely, said the art is clearly inspired by the things people observed at the time. “Most of the petroglyphs show familiar animals, there are images of sharks and whales and also of amphibians such as turtles,” adds Garge.
But this raises the question of why some of the cave drawings depict animals such as rhinos and hippos that are not found in India. Did the people who created them emigrate to India from Africa? Or have these animals ever been found in India? After the discovery, authorities created a fund of 240 million rupees ($ 3.2 million) to further study 400 of the identified petroglyphs.