Petroglyphs of Konkan throw light on ancient culture

Petroglyphs of Konkan throw light on ancient culture

Credit: Facebook/Tejas Garge

The rock art of central India and southern India is rich and recent discoveries of petroglyphs from Konkan indicate that there may have had a link between these two regions.

Furthermore, they are an authentic commentary on the man-land relationship during the so called the ‘Dark Age’ of Konkan and provide evidence of human dynamism on the western coast of India,  according to Dr Tejas Garge, Director, Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Maharashtra.

Addressing a webinar 'Ratnagiri Petroglyphs' at an online series 'Discover Maharashtra' hosted by the state government's Tourism ministry, he said, the petroglyphs from this region are mostly life-size figures of animals and have been executed in carved outlines. The carvings are not deeper than 5 cm and the grooves are 3-4 cm wide. 

Most of the petroglyphs in Ratnagiri appear to be made by pecking technique by hammerstone. The dating of Ratnagiri petroglyphs is difficult to pin down at present due to the lack of cultural evidence. Many of these sites were reported by amateurs who cleaned the entire surface of these sites and this probably was a major reason for the absence of cultural material of the surface.

"Many petroglyph sites are now being reported from various places in Konkan. The sites of Ratnagiri district are scattered over almost 170 km and have many varieties in it," said Dr Garge.

Faunal carvings are mostly seen on every site. Among the fauna depicted there are certain animals and birds which are now extinct. "Rhinoceros is now extinct in the 
area, but it existed in the Deccan region as late as the Chalcolithic period. Petroglyphs of abstract shape and in form of human figures are also seen with them. Since, there is no depiction of domesticated animals, horse rider, metal weapons or anything which suggests agricultural activity or historical scenes, therefore, some of the petroglyphs from the Konkan can be tentatively assigned to pre-pastoral StoneAge," he said making a presentation.

All these sites are situated near water bodies like lakes, small ponds, sea, etc. Small ponds and lakes are not perennial here; they get dry by the month of  February. The rainfall in Konkan is higher and all the sites are situated on a bit sloppy plateaus so the cultural material must have been washed away with water to the main water body in a nearby area. 

"The present set of petroglyphs from Konkan strongly suggests that the region was exploited by the humans who might be subsisting on hunting, fishing and foraging life in the pre-pastoral cultural period, though such scenes are absent in the petroglyphs," the chief archaeologist of Maharashtra government said.

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