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Evidence of early humans found in cold desert

delhi Updated: Jul 11, 2011 01:46 IST
Chetan Chauhan

Ladakh, one of the world's highest cold desert, had early humans more than 3,000 years ago, a new government survey has found, falsifying the claims that no early humans could have borne the harsh conditions of the region.

It is for the first time that evidence of early human existence has been found in upper Himalayan region, where winter temperature falls to upto minus 30 degree Celsius.

In first week of July, the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) and Jammu University found hearths used by early humans on the bank of Wakka river in Ladakh valley for fire.http://www.hindustantimes.com/images/HTPopups/050711/11_07_11-metro8b.jpg

"These were mostly transit camps where fire was lit to cook food and to escape from harsh winters," said RK Ganjoo, professor of Geologoy at Jammu University.

The university with ASI are implemented a Central government project for finding traces of early humans in Kargil and Ladakh after similar discoveries were made in neighbouring Tibet and Hindukush in Pakistan in 2009.

During survey of Ladakh valley, Ganjoo and SB Ota of regional director of ASI office in Bhopal discovered number of hearths built by cutting natural slopes of the mountains about 3,000 to 4,000 years ago.

"Early man occupied the valley and exploited the slopes to settle down an carry out its routine activities under the large rock falls. Most interesting is that flat blocks of limestone was used by Early Man as floor around the fire placed," says a paper on their findings.

To fine tine the findings, the sample archeological sites have been sent to investigate the type of wood used for burning the fire and remains of the food materials consumed by the early men. "The investigation will help us to find the exact time and more about early humans in Ladakh region," Ganjoo said.

Earlier humans have been tracked back to two million years in Africa and in India the latest studies indicate presence of humans of stone age in the Attarapakkan region in now Tamil Nadu about 1.5 million years ago.

But so far presence of early humans was not discovered in cold desert region of Himalayas. Britishers in early 19th century conducted archeological survey of Ladakh and Kargil region but ruled out possibility of their existence citing harsh winters.

"Our finding will give a new impetus to geo-archeological research," Ganjoo said.