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Thursday, 19 January 2012

Prehistoric rock art found on Chandrapur hillock

Swati Shinde TNN | Jan 19, 2012, 01.59AM IST

PUNE: Archaeologists from the city-based Deccan College Post Graduate and Research Institute last week discovered one of the oldest forms of rock art called cup marks on a hillock in Chandrapur district of eastern Maharashtra.

These cup marks, found about three km from Shankarpur village, are similar to those found in Dar-ki-Chattan in Madhya Pradesh, a UNESCO world heritage site.

Cup marks are small concave depressions about a few cm across, dug into a rock surface. They are often surrounded by concentric circles carved into the stone and a linear channel called a gutter usually leads out from the middle.

Based on the surrounding evidence, archaeological experts believe that the Chandrapur cup marks date between 10,000 and 15,000 BC. They were probably of astronomical significance marked on the hillock to signify the direction of the sun or the number of members in a family who were buried at the site.

"The hillock is called Irvazhari and the cup marks were carved in four patches at different locations on it. Each patch had about 10 to 15 circular and semi-circular marks and no geometrical significance. They were randomly marked in a group," Kanti Pawar, the archaeologist who led the excavation, said.

A team from Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) will report at the site soon to decode the exact reason for carving these cup marks. Mayank Vahia, who has studied the Indus Valley script, and is a professor at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research's department of astrophysics and astronomy said, "The orientation of the cup marks is not geometrical. They are very random and preliminary. We feel that they may have astronomical significance in terms of direction of rising or setting of the sun or may be the stars. But they were carved for some purpose. It will be exciting and interesting to decode the exact purpose of these cup marks on a hillock."

Cup marks are also called cupules and archaeologists say they are the oldest surviving rock art. "We have found some stone tools in the surrounding area which date back to 10,000 BC. Hence, we have estimated that the cup marks could be around the same period. But, we will undertake a precise, scientific dating of the cup marks soon," Pawar added.

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