The dolmens of Gadchinmalki

The dolmens of Gadchinmalki

Hunter-gatherers of ancient times, more than thirty thousand years ago, struck a hard stone with another stone and managed to sharpen the edges. They found it more efficient in striking and killing the hunted animal. Such hard and handy stones were the first tools made by man.

This was palaeolithic period, the early stone age. Soon, man was becoming
innovative, striking, chopping and shaping more efficient stones to shear and cut meat, break and pulverise tree branches, and skin animals.

Tools of progress

With his discovery of agriculture, the tools got more and more sophisticated. Man then progressed from early palaeolithic age to later palaeolithic to mesolithic age, when he used small, sharp, saw-toothed quarts chips to cut, peel and shear. In the neolithic age, he learnt the use of axes and small pestles, which contributed to his progress to megalithic age.

By now the hunter had graduated socially as well. The concept of family, the early unit of society, had begun to take shape. He had developed binding affection and reverence for the members and even the dead.

He even built small, miniature dwellings at their burial place, inside which, along with the body, he kept, what he thought, were the necessities of the departed souls.
Such burial places, made of huge slabs of stones, are called ‘dolmens’. They are found near Gadchinmalki village on the River Markandeya, and the place is locally known as Moreyaar Mane.

Gadchinmalki lies in the converging valleys of the Ghataprabha and Markandeya near Gokak in Belagavi district. Moreyaar Mane lies about a kilometre away from Gadchinmalki.
Some 10 to 15 km away from Gokak and 20 km from Hidkal Dam, Gadchinmalki and a few surrounding villages, like Boodihal and Karekuppi, are repositories of all types of stone artefacts from palaeolithic age down to chalcolithic age, when man, his families and social groups founded villages, discovered metals and started smelting and extracting copper and iron. In fact, you can still find heavy smelting discards, in the shape of utility moulds, in this area.

The dolmens form several rows, with 10-15 feet separating each of them. Most of the dolmens are square in shape, with a base and height of about 5 feet.

6-8 inches-thick stone slabs enclose the dolmens on three sides with a big slab on the top. One side is kept open with the indication of an approach. Only a few have survived, while the rest have been either ruined and poached for possible hidden treasure or the stone slabs have been used in later construction of houses.

A few of them are found inside the fields. The whole area of the dolmens is about two acres, with signs of rows still visible on closer look.

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