PRE-HISTORIC LOCALITIES OF ARAVALI, IN FARIDABAD

Sarkaritel
By Sarkaritel June 5, 2021 20:30


PRELIMINARY REPORT


By
SHALAISH BAISLA

Introduction

Thousands of Pre-historic stone tools ranging from the lower palaeolithic age have been found by scholars in the stretches of the Aravalli range in and around Delhi. It takes the antiquity of Delhi and neighbouring areas, located on the contours of the Aravalli, to several hundred thousand years back. It is one of the biggest palaeolithic sites in the Indian sub-continent, where stone age tools were recovered from different paleo-channel areas in development sequence. The paleochannels were formed due to the shifting of the Yamuna river, which in turn was caused due to massive tectonic activities.

The depth of the site in variety and quality of tools makes it a textbook site for the students of prehistory and the commoner. One can have a glimpse of the life of early men who roamed, prepared tools, and hunted animals in entirely different environmental and climatic conditions that prevailed around Delhi more than two hundred thousand years back. By size, it is the largest palaeolithic site of the Indian subcontinent. It is strange that even after being so significant and excavated by the Pre-historic branch of ASI, the site has been abandoned for years by researchers and archaeologist. It is not a protected site, and neither it is properly documented nor explored.

This paper attempts to add few more localities among the palaeolithic sites of Delhi NCR. The middle palaeolithic site is a rock cave shelter in the inward of a quartzite hill of the Aravali mountain range. The focused area has never been surveyed or explored before by any researcher. It is around 30km by road from the site previously excavated by the Prehistory Branch of Archaeological Survey of India led by A.K.Sharma in 1991 and again in 1992 (Anangpur site – 28° 27’30” N,77° 15’56”). It is distant from the site Systematically surveyed in 1985-86 by Dilip Chakravarty and Nayanjot Lahiri. They have Mentioned the occurrence of Palaeolithic sites in Sultanpur Delhi.

Earlier studies in this Region

As early as 1956, four specimens of stone tools were collected by Surjit Sinha near the main gate of the Delhi University (Sinha, 1958, pp.251-53). Prof H.D. Sankalia reported the discovery of some palaeolithic tools near Delhi Ridge in 1974. In 1983, there was a chance discovery of a palaeolithic tool from the campus of Jawaharlal Nehru University (Chakrabarty and Lahiri, 1987, p. 109). In 1985-86, D.K.Chakrabarty and Nayanjot Lahiri made a comprehensive and detailed survey of pre-historic sites in Delhi and Haryana.

They traced 43 sites ranging from lower palaeolithic to microlithic, but their survey does not provide any geo-coordinates to locate the site they have worked. In 1986, another chance discovery was made by S.S. Sharma of the Archaeological Survey, when he came across some beautiful Acheulian tools unloaded by a truck along with Badarpur sand at Malviya Nagar in Delhi (Sharma, 1993, p. 6). In 1986, A.K. Sharma further searched the source of these tools, which led him to the palaeolithic site of Anangpur in the outskirt of Delhi (Faridabad District of Haryana).

In 1991, Anangpur (Palaeolithic site) was brought under excavation by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) under the guidance of A.K Sharma and S.B Ota (Sharma et al., 1990-91,1992). The site is located on the quartzitic tableland of the Faridabad district of Haryana. It is so far the only Palaeolithic site that is being systematically excavated around Delhi and NCR (National Capital Region). The tool bearing horizon was exposed in the section due to quarrying of the Badarpur sand and lay just above the bedrock. In excavation, this horizon was encountered 0.75m below the surface (Sharma et al. 1990-91). According to excavators, the site lies between the fourth and fifth paleo-channel of river Yamuna which is supposed to be a late Pleistocene event and thus ascribed the site to be Acheulian or older.

(Fig. 1) All previously reported Paleolithic Localities in and around Delhi (map credit: https://www.jstor.org/stable/26264680?seq=3)

In 2014 Garima Khansili of Deccan College, Pune, published an article to add another site in the same ranges of Sultanpur and Gurugram, as a part of her research methodology course under the guidance of Prof Sheila Mishra. The locality under her study is close to the area previously surveyed in 1985-86 by Dilip Chakravarty and Nayanjot Lahiri. However, their survey lacks any geo-coordinates.

Geographical Setting

The area is covered by Quaternary aeolian and alluvial deposits, which unconformably overlie the quartzites and granites of the Delhi Supergroup, Nagaur sandstone of Cambrian age, and Tertiary clays. The Pre-Quaternary topography is in the form of an N.W.–S.E. trending ridge occurring at about 200 m below the ground. The Quaternary succession is 200 to more than 400 m thick and consists mainly of brownish silt-clay, grey micaceous sand with thin lenses, and layers of brown sand. The silt clay shows strong carbonate enrichment at various levels and in places that form hardpans. On the surface, alluvial silt clay is dominant.

(Fig. 2) Geomorphological map of Haryana showing four geomorphic units, namely piedmont (PM), central alluvial plain (C.P.), marginal alluvial plain (M.P.), and Thar fringe (T.F.). Bedrocks are exposed in the north (Siwalik Group) and the south (Delhi Supergroup). Note the flow of Ghaggar drainage towards S.W. and Yamuna towards S.E. with no visible drainage divide (labelled D) in between. The northern and southern parts have negative slopes.

The aeolian deposits occupy the western and southern border and are limited by ~400 mm isohyet. Isolated sand mounds are present in the alluvial plain up to Panipat in north and Delhi in S.E. A paleochannel segment, previously mapped by Yashpal et al. to the ‘lost’ Saraswati river, is shown for ready reference.

In a study of tremendous impact, Yaspal et al. (1980) used satellite Landsat imagery of 1972-1977 and identified several traces of buried channel that runs southwest-northeast in the Yamuna plains. Based on the visual interpretation, they proposed three paleochannels on the Yamuna, namely Y1, Y2, and Y3 (Figure below), representing the course of the ancient river that flowed south-east of the river Markanda. They also suggested that paleochannels Y1 joined the old bed of the River Ghaggar. In contrast, paleochannels Y2 flowed into the Chautang (Drishadvati). Paleochannel Y3 flowed in the present course of the Yamuna down to Delhi and finally joined the River Ganga through the Chambal at Allahabad or flown to southwest joining the present course of Luni river in Rajasthan and submerged in Arabian sea crossing Rann of kutch.

Several paleochannels of the Yamuna have been delineated further south and west (south of Delhi and west of Faridabad). The paleochannel belt starts from the south of Delhi and seems to continue up to the west of Agra, covering parts of the Faridabad and Palwal districts. Lower elevation values still characterize the palaeo-course in comparison to the adjoining areas. It lies in between the southern levee of the active Yamuna in the north and the Aravallis in the south. Narrow misfit channels occupy the linear depression.

Several drilling activities by Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) and other agencies have been undertaken for groundwater exploration and water supply purposes. The density of such tube wells is more in the alluvial patches in the Faridabad district. The petrology indicates that the intervening alluvial patch between the active river course and the paleochannel is mainly clayey. However, the prominently thick sand zones (~30-60m) were located within the top 50-60m slices in the hydrogeological sections. The width of the paleochannel belt is between 15 and 20 km, where thicker sand zones up to ~60 m are encountered at shallow depth.

(Fig. 3) Present drainage system and paleo-drainage system in the plains of Haryana, Punjab, and Rajasthan (from Yashpal et al., 1980).

The Y3 paleochannel flowed through the present course of the Yamuna river down to New Delhi. Based on the stratigraphic data and age models from the southern Ganga plains, (Sinha et al. 2009) hypothesized that eastward avulsion of Yamuna to its present position (east of Aravalli Hills) occurred in the late Quaternary, but no exact timing established. Additionally, (Clift et al. 2012) suggested that sediments in the Ghaggar – Hakra paleochannel system were sourced from Sutlej and Yamuna catchments and rerouted the Yamuna current position possibly occurred as early as 49ka and no later than 10 ka.

Chatchmaent Zone

Site A: 28°21’47.9″N 77°11’16.4″E Site

B: 28°20’20.1″N 77°09’46.2″E


(Fig.4) Both the sites on the Bank of Paleochannel

The sites are close to Delhi, on the south of Faridabad Gurugram Highway. This highway is dividing the previously explored area from the focused area. The previously reported sites enjoy significant protection as they come under Asola Wildlife Century also Mining and Stone crushing came to a pause after a Supreme Court prohibition in 2002.


(Fig. 5) Shows Locality understudy and previously explored region. (map credit: google earth) Unfortunately, the reported sites do not have any special status. It does not get the indemnity that sites under the Asola Wild Life Sanctuary earn and is exposed to various threats like illegal quarrying of quartzite or can be vandalized by multiple other local elements like construction activities making it highly vulnerable as none of the state or central government provide any protection to this area which is equally rich in terms biodiversity flora and fauna as Asola Wild Life Sanctuary and home for various endangered species of birds and animals seeing wild animals like leopard, fox, jackal, deer, nilgai, rabbits and porcupine is common.

(Fig. 6) Topographical map showing Elevations at the site. (Map credit: Open street map)

Aeolian activities have been active in this Region in the past. Trivedi (Trivedi 2009) has established that based on geochemical examinations of the sediments, he concluded that these sediments are derived neither from quartzite or its weathering nor from Yamuna alluvium. Instead, they show physical and chemical signatures of being Aeolian. This Aeolian sand helped preserve these artefacts in the past. Now, due to quarrying and other disturbance at the site, they are being exposed again.

• Site A Mangar

It is a Primary settlement area consisting of rock shelters. It is the utmost important site of this Region as no absolute Prime site has been reported in this section. There are several rock shelters possibly inhabited by early men. Tools discovered around this region are core and flake tools. Number of tools made on flakes our higher.

(Fig.7) Satellite view of site A above 821 meters

(Fig.8) Rock shelter from where the fossil discovered

(Fig.9)Tools in situ – exposed because of Quarry

This rock shelter was one of the biggest among all the shelters, a bone found from this shelter in semi-permineralized condition, and there are various tools debitage outside this shelter, Possible they were making tools at this very place, unfinished tools scattered outside this rock shelter confirms this. On the basis of tools typology, it is a Middle to Upper palaeolithic site.

(Fig.10) Artificial cave at site A

On the west side, at the button of a foothill, situated important shelter, it is an artificial cave chipped off and excavated manually by someone intentionally. The depth of this cave is at least 40-50ft deep and hardly 5 ft in height. An average modern human male could not enter or stand straight in this cave makes it more suitable for the size of early man.

To tell if this cave is constructed by stone age man or modern man needs more detailed examination inside out by experts. However, as per locals, it is defiantly not created by miners as Quartzite mining is done in the open pit method in this area. The drill holes inside the cave made for wedging to wreck the mountain, and this cave is nothing but a suitable location to blast this mountain, and because of local villagers’ intervention, this could not be concluded.

• Site B kot

It is an open-air site. Tools used throughout the Lower Paleolithic period and developing cultures, located on top of the Hill and the valley below, are technologically primitive, to tools found at site A. on the basis of tool typology, it is one of the oldest Paleolithic Localities in this range. The tools found in the valley are comparatively corroded because of continuous erosion from the seasonal river water.

(Fig.11) Satellite view from 12000m above of all the sites

There are a large number of petroglyphs discovered from this site consisting of Graffiti marks, Hundreds of Cupules and uncommon hand and footprints of human, animal, Bird and Fish engraved into horizontal Quartzite slabs facing towards the sky. Just Like the tools discovered from this site, these petroglyphs are also in heavily corroded condition because of the physical weathering of rock due to various natural elements with time.

Around this site, there is two historical settlement. Both are totally different from each other; one can easily distinguish between them as the technology and architecture implied to raise these monuments are quite the opposite even though both are raised with the help of locally available stone. One is far more primitive than the other.

Site B has the competence of having more sites around it, Chances of discovering an even bigger site of developing cultures near it are very high, and each water drainage channel of this foot Hill needs to be explored thoroughly.

Some Microliths have also been collected from this site. This region will be the significant focused area in my upcoming article.

Artefact assortment Pre-historic stone relics gathered from both the sites are ranging from lower palaeolithic to middle palaeolithic, all-embracing the claims made by A.k Sharma in his book “Prehistoric Delhi and its neighbourhood”, making it a textbook site for the people of interest in prehistory.

(Fig. 12) Evolution of tools from Early stone age to Middle stone age, discovered from site A and Site B. 40 artefacts acquired from surface and streambed for authorization and documentation purpose, comprises:
• Pebble tools
• Choppers
• Hand axes (of several types)
• Cleavers
• Scraper
• Points
• Discoid
• Borer
• Blades
• Flakes

Artefacts are accessible in good to worse condition, but it is effortless to distinguish them from generic stones. Excavation is needed to study the stratigraphical sequence of the artefacts on site. Site A required several excavations on the southern and western corner of the Hill, while Site B need further detailed exploration following the river channel into the valley.

Site B Kot

It comprises Pebble tools, unifacial Hand axes, cleavers and choppers. Based on tools characteristics, they are from the early stone age belongs to Mode 1 and Mode 2 industry of tools with a flat base these tools are simple, generally prepared by chipping off one or a few flakes with another stone.

The section around site B is up-and-coming to encounter even more site of similar cultures. It requires further exploration of this whole area deep in the forest following the paleochannels.

(Fig. 13) Pre Acheulian tools – discovered from streambed on site B.

(Fig. 14) Unifacial Hand axe, Tanged Hand axe, side scraper and Concave scraper collected from site B.

(Fig.15) Microliths from site B

Site A MANGAR

Tools from site A are flaked tools typical of mode three stone tool industry or middle Paleolithic tools also eminent as Mousterian tool culture in Europe made with more controlled and consistent pressure flaking. One can found or identify these tools very quickly, even with a fundamental understating of tool typology. Tools are scattered everywhere on the surface, around the rock shelters in large numbers. A small excavation around the site is highly recommended as it can reveal a lot about the site’s cultural sequences, and the possibility of finding earlier cultures here cannot be ruled out as the whole site is in sequence consisting of cultures starting from old stone to middle stone age.

(Fig. 16) An Acheulian hand axe (bifacial) discovered from site A

This beautiful Acheulian Handaxe was found at the top of Hill at site A, possibly exposed to the surface because of mining activity in the region; it increases the chances of encountering another site nearby, filling the technological gap between site A and site B.

(Fig. 17) Mousterian Hand axe, Discoid, Scrapers, Cleavers from site A

(Fig. 18) Bifacial discoid found from the bottom of the rock shelter

(Fig. 19) Borer, scraper, knives, arrowheads, blades, flakes.

Tools are made from flakes or blades by retouching, generally, with a deer antler or hammerstone called Secondary working or pressure flaking. It will often have removed some of the identification features. However, the retouch indicates that it is an artificial tool. Some retouch can be challenging to identify as damaged by the Quarry and other modern disturbances at the site.

When knapping removed most of the flint from a nodule or pebble, the remaining piece or core are discarded. A scatter of waste flakes and cores suggests that man has been Knapping in this area and is a good indicator of prime settlement.

Fossil

(Fig. 20) Fossilized bone from a rock shelter at site A

In one of the rock shelters at Site A, there is an enormous discovery of bone laying on the surface inside the shelter in semi permineralized condition. On Preliminary observation, it is a broken femur bone of hominin or can be a Broken Bone Awl in both the conditions; it is a very significant discovery, preserved because of the same phenomena which preserved other artefacts on this site, aeolian activities. The aeolian sand helped in the consolidation of artefacts in situ, and it must be exposed later because of weathering. It needs immediate examination by Palaeontologist and Anthropologist to make further claims. After being studied minutely, Uranium–thorium dating U-Th recommended for this bone.

Dating and Analysis of the bone will reveal much information regarding the site, like absolute time, Specie of Hominin and much more.

Discussion

This research begins from where a.k Sharma has left it. Suppose he would have explored a little bit more in 1993. Today this site might be among the most significant palaeolithic site of the Indian Sub-Continent, particularly the study of human evolution. This site can be a bridge between Soanian culture and the madrasian culture of lower palaeolithic tools in India. The site is in continuous occupation from lower palaeolithic to middle palaeolithic. It needs more research to comprehend the evolution of tools locally.

The site immediately needs protection from various elements that can obliterate it. Even though mining is ban in this area by the supreme court in 2002, Quarry is still going on in this section of the range illegally. It is currently the most significant threat for the site before further research and studies efforts required for its conservation. In this preliminary report, the proposed indigenous ‘tool cultures’ name recommended ‘Gujaran’ after the local Gujjar tribe of this locality. People of this tribe indirectly responsible for protecting this site from serval threats and maintenance of Biodiversity in the region, also famous as ‘mangar-bani, a sacred grove’.

The locality is surrounded by many Gujjar villages from all sides, and within the jungle, namely Fatehpur, Anagpur, Kot, Mangar, Ghata, Dhoj and Harchanpur and many others all are of the same tribe, but different clans. Naming the type site after them will help in winning the local support. Sustainable conservation of site without local community is impossible. Also, they know this region more than anyone and can help in the thorough investigation of remaining and hard to reach areas of the Aravali range. Delhi NCR is plagued by pollution with every passing year situation is going from bad to worse, this range act as lungs for Delhi and cools down hot air coming from the west if we convert this site into a Pre-historic eco-park, it will solve both the problems and will provide definite protection for the site.

Acknowledgement This research I started at the beginning of this pandemic independently, but at a later stage, my friends and family joined me to complete my study. I like to thank people who are not from an archaeology background but still supported my work and helped at every step from exploration to document. My parent’s support is also significantly acknowledged. I express gratitude towards Yogesh Bhardwaj, Tejveer Gujjar, Sadhish Sharma, Lavraj Baisla and Ankita Sarma for helping me at the time of need from configuring to the editing of this article.

Local villagers support was also acknowledged.

References

• “Prehistoric Delhi and Its Neighbourhood” Book by Arun Kumar Sharma, Published in New Delhi: Aryan Books International, 1993.

• Roy, A. B., and S. R. Jakhar. “Late Quaternary Drainage Disorganization, and Migration and Extinction of the Vedic Saraswati.” Current Science 81, no. 9 (2001): 1188-195. Accessed May 1, 2021.

http://www.jstor.org/stable/24106435.

• Saini, H. S. and Anand, V. K., Lithostratigraphic framework and sedimentological evolution of the Quaternary deposits of northwestern Haryana. Geol. Surv. India Spec. Publ., 1996, 21, 227–231.

• KHANSILI, GARIMA. “PALAEOLITHIC LOCALITY NEAR DELHI (GURGAON, NCR): PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS.”

Bulletin of the Deccan College Research Institute 74 (2014): 1-8. Accessed April 29, 2021. http://www.jstor.org/stable/26264680.

• Discovering ‘buried’ channels of the Paleo-Yamuna river …. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S092698511830870X

• https://www.academia.edu/40286000/Anangpur_A_Palaeolithic_Site_near_Delhi

• https://www.researchgate.net/publication/313622476_The_Indian_Lower_Palaeolithic

• https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/JNUs-rocking-pre-historic-legacy/article13377963.ece

• https://www.google.co.in/maps

• https://en-in.topographic-map.com/maps/g05g/Faridab%C3%A1d

Sarkaritel
By Sarkaritel June 5, 2021 20:30