Tools near Mumbai beach trace human settlements to Middle Stone Age
Researchers say these tools could date back to approximately 15,000 years.Updated: Jan 03, 2018 07:26 IST
Archaeologists have found stone tools dating back to the Middle Stone Age in north Mumbai, indicating human habitation in the area 10,000 to 15,000 years ago.
The microliths, or minute flint stone tools, were found on a hill next to Manori beach, which experts believe could have been a possible factory site for such implements.
Researchers said the findings were important in tracing Mumbai’s early days and the kind of habitation the islands had in the Mesolithic era.
“Tool-making debris is found along with blade tools there, which is why it is believed to be a factory site. Through comparative dating of data, it can be said that these tools could date back to approximately 15,000 years,” said Kurush Dalal, assistant professor (archaeology) and coordinator, Centre for Extra Mural Studies (CEMS), University of Mumbai.
This is part of the Salsette Archaeological Exploration Project by the CEMS at the Centre for Archaeology of University of Mumbai, Sathaye College, and the India Study Centre Trust (INSTUCEN). Salsette is the region between Mahim and Vasai creek, mostly consisting of the Mumbai Suburban district.
Since people of that age were mostly hunter-gatherers, the tools could speak about their diet, said Abhijeet Dandekar, assistant professor at the Pune-based Deccan College Post-Graduate and Research Institute, who was part of the study group.
But the early inhabitants’ eating habits couldn’t be clearly defined as the condition of the sea during those times has yet to be studied, Dandekar said. “We haven’t found skeletal remains, but only stone tools. What we can gauge from the findings is that this is the period before agriculture started, and fish was a major part of their diet,” Dandekar explained.
“This was the era before man invented clothing, and it is believed that the people lived in the open or under natural rock outcrops.”
Experts called the findings remarkable. Mayank Vahia, professor, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, said it is exciting to find traces from the Mesolithic era in Mumbai as people usually determine the city’s existence from the time the Portuguese landed.
“Mumbai’s history can be traced back to thousands of years … we know Kalyan and Nalasopara were major trade centres of West Asia before the Harappan civilization. But it’s difficult to determine whether the seven islands that became Mumbai city were populated in those days,” he said.
Researchers believe it will be difficult to trace more undisturbed sites of pre-historic value in a city that has undergone massive real estate changes in the past 100 years.