A recent archaeological study has found signs that there was human habitation in the hilly and forested tracts of Purulia, Bankura and West Midnapore districts — regions that almost coincide with the modern day jangalmahal — for the last one lakh years.
The discovery is significant because in the prehistoric period, human settlements were rare as men led nomadic lives moving from one place to another depending on the availability of food.
“During our project over the past couple of years, we have found the existence of a micro blade industry in and around the Ayodhya hills area, which takes the history of the area back to the Late Pleistocene period,” Bishnupriya Basak of the department of archaeology at Calcutta University said at a seminar at the Indian Museum on Wednesday.
In archaeological terminology, micro blade signifies small stone tools that were typically chipped off from stones and used for various purposes from hunting to digging the earth.
The Late Pleistocene period commenced between 20,000 and 10,000 years BC. This was the time when humans started making and using small tools made of stones. Earlier, relics of large size stone tools of the early stone era, which date back to 80,000 and 1,00,000 years, were found in Purulia.
According to experts, the discovery of these two types of tools makes the crucial connection that prehistoric men settled down in this region and perhaps did not migrate.
Basak and her team discovered relics of human civilisation in the Ayodhya hills of Purulia in 2011-12.
“The early stone era relics suggested the existence of human habitation in Purulia’s Ayodhya hills are a and Bankura’s Sushunia hills area about 80,000–1,00,000 years ago. The new findings suggest that human habitation continued in that region and developed from early stone era to the late stone era,” Amol Roy, superintendent of the state archaeological department, told HT.
According to Roy, archaeologists need to do further research on the stone tools found in and around Ayodhya hills as they would shed more light on the pattern of human behaviour and life during that period when cultivation was yet to begin.
Stone tools have been crucial in tracing the prehistoric period, which is an era beyond written history. According to Prakash Sinha of the department of archaeology at the University of Allahabad, the development of stone tools tells a lot of stories about the development of human behaviour and development of society.
The seminar was organised to commemorate a milestone event in Indian archaeological research. On May 30, 1863, geologist Robert Bruce Foote found a Palaeolithic tool — a handaxe made of a hard rock called quartzite — near Chennai. It was the event that finally recorded human habitation in India in the prehistoric period.
Prehistoric man had crafted the stone found by Foote to dig out tubers and roots from the soil, hunt and butcher animals and so on. Recent research suggests that the tools that Foote had discovered could date back to 1.5 million years.