Pleistocene rock art in Maharashtra

Ancient Rock Art in the Plains of India-Two amateur sleuths have uncovered a collection of mysterious rock carvings on the Indian coastal plain south of Mumbai:

In the evening breeze on a stony hilltop a day’s drive south of Mumbai, Sudhir Risbud tramped from one rock carving to another, pointing out the hull of a boat, birds, a shark, human figures and two life-size tigers.

“They’re male,” he said with a smile, noting that the carver had taken pains to make the genitalia too obvious to ignore. He was doing a brief tour of about two dozen figures, a sampling of 100 or so all etched into a hard, pitted rock called laterite that is common on the coastal plain that borders the Arabian Sea.

The carvings are only a sample of 1,200 figures that Mr. Risbud and Dhananjay Marathe, engineers and dedicated naturalists, have uncovered since they set out on a quest in 2012. The two men are part of a long tradition of amateur archaeologists, according to Tejas Garge, the head of the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums for the state of Maharashtra, and the petroglyphs they have uncovered amount to a trove of international significance.

There are no depictions of bulls, so it is pre-agricultural. Additionally, some of the animals depicted disappeared from the area in the later Pleistocene. That means the carvings could date to people who lived in the area between 40,000 and 20,000 years ago, right up to the Last Glacial Maximum.

14 thoughts on “Pleistocene rock art in Maharashtra”

  1. “That means the carvings could date to people who lived in the area between 40,000 and 20,000 years ago, right up to the Last Glacial Maximum.”

    How insignificant we are in the wider frame of earth’s history. Will there be a earth 40,000 and 20,000 years from now, and will those people /organisms even remember us

      1. Sorry to be a downer, but the nearest galaxy (Andromeda) is about 2 1/2 million light years away. Our own galaxy is about 100,000 light years across, with the solar system at the out fringes of one of the spiral arms.

        So even if some of us somehow Homo Deus up and transcend our material bodies, the laws of physics preclude us from ever being anything more than a humble intra-galactic species on a time scale of 40,000 years.

        1. Interestingly, I encountered a similar question on another blog recently, and the answer is a resounding yes. Yes, it is possible to reach farthest galaxies of the universe in a human lifetime. You just need to go really fast. Fast like light, or close to it, and time dilation will come to your rescue. This is what Einstein theory of relativity was all about.

          The only downer is that, you will not be able to come back to earth within the lifetime of the denizens of earth and regale them with the stories of your beer parties with aliens. The reason being, when you come back to earth, time on earth would have moved millions of years in the future.

          It is a very technical topic, but I will give you the gist. When you travel close to the speed of light, then the distances shrink for *you*. Which means that what was a journey of billions and billions of miles when you were stationary, turns into a journey of just a few miles, which you can finish in *your* own lifetime.

          For those watching your rocket ship from earth, the journey still appears to be billions of miles long, but for them the clock on board your rocket seems to slow down. So as it appears to them, you never seem to age. So as millions of years pass on earth and you reach your the exotic new galaxy, you still appears as youthful to the denizens of earth as you were when you started, (may be just a few more white strands in your hair, but that’s all).

          So dream on. Who knows what humans might be able to achieve in the future.

          1. Turns out I’m a theoretical physicist, so I kinda know a thing or two about special relativity. The bare minimum that being an intergalactic civilization entails is that you have beings populating two separate galaxies that meaningfully communicate in some form. Hence needing to transcend our physical bodies — the speed of light is too slow, the universe is too big, and the characteristic time scales of all nuclear and chemical processes too damn quick for any organic life* to meaningfully last long enough for any communication or transportation on anything but the most minuscule fractions of sub-galactic scales.

            What you’re describing is relativistic time dilation. It helps getting from place to place in shorter durations of ‘proper time’ — the time elapsed for the particular moving observer, but not in the time elapsed in sending signals between any two observers separated by intergalactic distances. You can’t cheat the speed of light — hence in a time scale of 40,000 years, we’re not going to be an intergalactic species… although any one of us is free to fast forward to wherever you want to go, including the big crunch/ big rip/ heat death/ whatever the ultimate fate of this particular universe is by traveling as close to the speed of light as they want to by themselves…

            * be it carbon based/ silicon based/ whatever some astrobiologist cooks up using any of the bits of lego (the elements) we know exists everywhere in the universe.

          2. Well done eSPee. Considering that you are an expert in the field, a question for you – is it true that some assertions exist that the Theory of relativity is not universal, i.e. there were some findings (theoretical/experimental?) that some particles traveled faster than the speed of light.

          3. Good you do know a few things about relativity.

            meaningfully communicate in some form.
            Let go of this condition and everything falls in place.

            Why would you want to communicate? If you are on a site seeing trip enjoy the scenery and be content.

            Also, closed timelike curves allows for the possibility of time travel. So far they have not be disproved. So if I happen to return to earth off by a couple of million years, I might try closed timelike curves to go back to “present” and communicate.

            On a serious note, there are so many unknowns that it will be naive to rule out inter-galactic travel. 100 years ago nobody would have imagined mankind could walk on moon.

          4. >>> “100 years ago nobody would have imagined mankind could walk on moon.”

            …And they were right, still didn’t walk ….

  2. The way we are moving (in the wrong direction ) there is a higher chance of we reaching stone age rather than Galaxies.

  3. These guys probably fought Kukureshtra war and conceived Mahabharata according to some OIP/OIUP scholars.

  4. We’re getting way off topic.

    @Milan: brief answer to you in the open thread.

    @ScorpionEater: Quite the opposite — it’s well established that you can’t have closed timelike curves in a consistent theory. The minute you do, your theory is sick and doesn’t describe a physical theory (sorry if you’ve read nonsense that says otherwise on the internet).

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