Q. Why is this in news ? A. Archaeologists have discovered cave paintings in a rocky and forested corner of Haryana that they believe belong to the Upper Palaeolithic age.
The Upper Paleolithic Age began around 40,000 years ago and lasted till around 10,000 years ago.
Q. What about the findings?
The caves are nestled amid a maze of quartzite rocks in the Aravalli mountain ranges, near a patch of primary forest, a holy grove called Mangar Bani.
The paintings are in continuation with the Soanian culture which has been found in Shivalik hills, Narmada and Aravallis.
The Aravallis are India’s and the world’s oldest mountain range.
Cave paintings comprised images of human figurines, animals, foliage, and geometric.
Rock art and open-air ceremonial sites were also found.
The caves and the paintings themselves are reminiscent of Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh, which is home to the oldest known cave art in India, dating back to the Mesolithic Age (around 10,000 years ago).
However, these Mangar cave art is 20,000-40,000 years old. The findings, therefore, could potentially make the paintings one of the oldest cave arts in the country.
Most of the paintings are ochre, but some are white.
Experts say cave paintings in white are usually from a later stage (early contemporary era), while Stone Age paintings are more often than not, ochre.
After the finding, the Mangar Bani forest shall be brought under state protection under the section 4 of Punjab Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1964.
Q. What is Paleolithic Age Art?
The prehistoric period in the early development of human beings is commonly known as the ‘Old Stone Age’ or ‘Palaeolithic Age’.
The Paleolithic period can be divided into three phases:
(1) Lower Palaeolithic (2.5 million years-100,000 years ago)
(2) Middle Palaeolithic (300,000-30,000 years ago)
(3) Upper Palaeolithic (40,000-10,000 years ago)
We did not get any evidence of paintings from lower or middle paleolithic age yet.
In the Upper Palaeolithic period, we see a proliferation of artistic activities.
Subjects of early works confined to simple human figures, human activities, geometric designs, and symbols.
First discovery of rock paintings in the world was made in India (1867-68) by an Archaeologist, Archibold Carlleyle, twelve years before the discovery of Altamira in Spain (site of oldest rock paintings in the world).
In India, remnants of rock paintings have been found on the walls of caves situated in several districts of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Bihar, and Uttarakhand.
Some of the examples of sites early rock paintings are Lakhudiyar in Uttarakhand, Kupgallu in Telangana, Piklihal and Tekkalkotta in Karnataka, Bhimbetka and Jogimara in Madhya Pradesh etc.
Paintings found here can be divided into three categories: Man, Animal, and Geometric symbols.
Some of the characteristics of these early paintings are:
Human beings are represented in a stick-like form.
A long-snouted animal, a fox, a multi-legged lizard are main animal motifs in the early paintings (later many animals were drawn).
Wavy lines, rectangular filled geometric designs and a group of dots also can be seen.
Superimposition of paintings – earliest is Black, then red and later White.
In the late historic, early historic and Neolithic period the subjects of paintings developed and figures like Bulls, Elephants, Sambhars, Gazelles, Sheep, Horses, styled human beings, tridents and rarely vegetal motifs began to see.
The richest paintings are reported from Vindhya range of Madhya Pradesh and their Kaimurean extension into U.P.
These hills are fully Palaeolithic and Mesolithic remains.
There are two major sites of excellent prehistoric paintings in India: (1) Bhimbetka Caves, Foothills of Vindhya, Madhya Pradesh. (2) Jogimara caves, Amarnath, Madhya Pradesh.