Saturday, January 9, 2010

Early man lived in Kashmir too...

Iqbal Ahmad
Much has been written and said about the pre-historic cultures of Kashmir and it is widely believed that men of the prehistoric period lived a nomadic life with little and quite temporary settlements in caves designed efficiently to keep away harmful influences of nature and man made threats. Archeologists have been putting up tremendous effort and hard work and at the end succeeded in reaching to not only a few such cave settlements in a year or two but also discovered tools at more than a dozen sites, used by the primitive man in Stone Age period. It is perhaps one among the well established facts that, like many other places, Kashmir too suited the early man. The latest findings of the archeologists in Kashmir therefore brush aside the early assumptions claiming this part of the world as ‘not significant’ in relationship with the early man as the investigations carried by archaeologists to a greater extent have collected a date to trace out the early living system of the man in Kashmir.The recent investigations under taken by the archaeologists at Overa valley of Pahalgam revealed few stone tools of Paleolithic age. these included the single edged stone blades and arrows identified by the investigators as tools used by the early men who lived in the caves of overa valley . Earlier to it, archaeologists during their investigations of Manasbal valley revealed the imprints of early man in the form of his habitat ional abodes, which consisted of caves and some Paleolithic (early Stone Age) tools. The archaeologists then believed that the caves were used as shelters by the Prehistoric man in Kashmir during early Stone Age period. The investigation report reached after Manasbal excavation has been dealt, in a greater length, by the investigator of the site Ajaz Ahmad Banday in his write up captioned, `Paleolithic Habitation Site at Manasbal’ which had appeared in a journal of Central Asian Studies (1997).The history of discovering Pre-Historic settlements in Kashmir was taken up way back several years by the archaeologists. The first investigation of this kind was initiated by Professor H D Sankalia when he explored the imprints of early man from Lidder Valley in as early as 1969. He came across several ancient stone tools, which included a huge flake tool and Abbevelian hand axe.These were later informed, by the experts, to have belonged to the early Stone Age periods. These finds were later endorsed by similar finds form the upper Vishow and Rimbar valleys of Shopian and Kulgam. However these finds could not throw any such light on the living styles of the early man, in Kashmir except that perhaps the early Kashmiri man had used these tools either for hunting animals or in his own safety against the attack of wild beasts.However the picture became little clear about where these people took shelter with thee excavations of Burzhama and Gufkral sites which revealed few cave pits besides stone and bone tools. The results reached at after observations of these sites was undertaken got further endorsed by the discovery of stone tools and finding of caves which were located here at varying heights of the mountain of Manasbal. The earlier excavation of 1960’s undertaken at Burzhama and Gufkral sites fairly yielded a good amount of information of Prehistoric way of life. By finding cave pits we come across the fact that the people of the age had lived in caves, and while the discovery of burials helped to believe that they used to place their deads in graves either in crouching or in extended positions. Several such burials are reported to have been encountered by the archaeologists in Burzhama excavation. One of the drawings engraved on a rock encountered here depicted a hunting scene which had suggested that the people of the settlement had been making hunters who hunted for satiating their hunger and also covered themselves in the fur.Although tools discovered at Manasbal have been displayed in the University Museum but the exhumed material from Burzhama and Gufkral sites was taken outside the state. Despite exhibiting the rich historic evidence in any state museums, it is housed in the national museum including New Delhi and Indian Museum Calcutta. Due to non-availability of such material Kashmir’s remain far away from their Prehistoric roots and also lack the understanding of the tools and instrument used by early man in their proper perspective.It is stressed upon the authorities that steps may be taken which would facilitate the concerned agency to acquire back the tools of Pre-Historic era of Kashmir. This would also enable researches to get an easy excess to the collections while observations of this materials shall throw more lights on Pre-historic culture of Kashmir.

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