Sunday, October 10, 2010


A large number of stone tools and weapons said dating back to more than 80,000 years ago were unearthed from a dry lake bed in Singadivakkam (Tamil Nadu, India). Located in a remote hamlet some 65 km south of Chennai, the cache could signal a major find in the area.

The discovery was made by Professor S. Rama Krishna Pisipaty and his student S. Shanmugavelu of the department of Sanskrit and culture at Sri Chandrasekaharendra Saraswathi Viswa Mahavidyalaya. It was part of an ongoing excavation that is partly funded by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The artifacts uncovered so far include hand-axes, choppers, scrappers and borers, as well as microlithic tools (small stone implements) and pointed tools of different sizes and shapes. Most of the tools could have been used for hunting and fishing.

Professor Pisipaty said that the huge number of tools (over 200) found at the one-hectare-site indicates that it could have hosted a large human settlement. Many of the settlers may have migrated from the northern parts of the country, he added. "The settlement, as can be gauged from the tools found, shows transition from early to middle Paleolithic age," Prof. Pisipaty noted.

Prof Pisipaty stated that unlike other similar finds, including the first Paleolithic tool (a hand axe) discovered at Pallavaram in 1863 by British geo-archeologist Robert Bruce Foote, the one at Singadivakkam is unique for at least one reason; the site has evidence in the form of tools and weapons showing the transition from the Stone Age to the modern age. In the rest of the Paleolithic sites discovered so far, he noted, there had been a break in the sequence. That makes this site the largest Paleolithic settlement near Chennai, he said.

Professor Pisipaty and Shanmugavelu, have been conducting excavations at the site since February 2009, "Kancheepuram was ideal for early settlers with its large number of safe water bodies a lifeline for any human settlement," Pisipaty said.

Edited from The Times of India (25 September 2010)


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