The Konkan Coast of India's Maharashtra State is probably best known for its gorgeous Arabian Sea get-aways however recent discoveries in the surrounding hills have supercharged the area's archaeological significance. With wide grasslands on rolling hills which act to shade each other as the Sun moves through the sky, the red laterite rocks have remained stable despite countless monsoons. In one particular patch of grass, where the rock has been sun-baked into a black and soil-less oval shape, there is an eight foot high depiction of a man. With legs astride and arms to the side the figure's head is surrounded by a large helmet or halo shape.
This description is for just one of over a thousand specimens discovered in only the last three years. The petroglyphs seems to be concentrated around Ratnagiri and Rajapur, suggesting these settlements have a legacy stretching back as far as these millennia old drawings. Over 52 sites in the surrounding regions have been documented involving over a thousand individual works of art. The largest so far discovered is an elephant petroglyph which reaches fifty feet across.
A whole range of different forms of art can be found there. Clear fertility symbols mingle with geometric patterns and strange motifs. Various animals are shown including fish and birds. The difference between these images and pictographs is that pictographs are painted on stone where as these petroglyphs are carved into it.
Along with 25,000 year old tools discovered in the same Konkan region, these petroglyphs help fills the gaps in the book of history for the area. Little is known about what went on and who was doing what in these times. Often wisdom was passed down through word of mouth and so finding a period of time which people used to express permanent thoughts into the landscape is a true gift. Now it's possible to open a door and walk into the time of these people to see what they felt was worthwhile depicting in stone.
The Mesolithic period which these drawings come from represents a period of time where humans were still using stone age technology. Metal-work had not been invented and only primitive use of fire was used to cook food or make smoke. Although humanity had managed to occupy much of the planet by this time, the last Ice Age still made the North challenging to colonise.
Find out more about the Petroglyphs of Konkan in The Hindu.
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