Evidence of early human occupation found in Ladakh
In what could be termed as a major breakthrough in exploration of early human history in the Himalayan mountain ranges, geologists have discovered geo-archaeological evidence of the Early Human occupation from the Wakha river valley in Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir.
ANT 203 : Néandertal et Homo Sapiens / Neanderthal and Homo Sapiens
CIV 109 - 209 : Ancient India
This significant evidence, which would now pave the way for further research on related theme by scientists, were discovered recently by a team of Archaeological Survey of India, led by Mr SB Ota. Regional Director, Central Region, ASI, Bhopal and Professor RK Ganjoo, University of Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir, who were carrying out detailed geo-archaeological investigation of the Wakha river valley near Mulbekh recently on Leh-Kargil National Highway.
Located in between the Kunlun mountain range in the north and the Great Himalayas to the south, inhabited by people of Indo-Aryan and Tibetan descent, Ladakh already has rich rock carvings or petroglyphs which throw light on the prehistoric history and cultures of Ladakh and clearly show that the area has been inhabited since Neolithic times. These widespread rock engravings/petroglyphs reported from the Ladakh region and believed to be the early evidences of human occupation, post-date the present findings. The material studies of these sites in the Upper Indus Valley have ascribed them to transhumance camping sites.
Prof. RK Ganjoo, Professor of Quaternary Geology, University of Jammu said a number of hearths in the natural slopes of the mountains were unearthed during the exploration. Samples from the hearths and its surroundings were collected by the team for further scientific studies to investigate the type of wood used for burning fire and remains of food material consumed by the early man.
“Preliminary geological investigations of the site strongly suggest that the slopes on the foothills were formed as a consequence of para-glacial processes under arid to semi-arid climatic conditions,” said Prof. Ganjoo, adding Early Man occupied the valley and exploited the slopes to settle down and carry out its routine activities under the large rock falls.
What is the most interesting fact is that flat blocks of limestone were used by Early Man as floors around the fire places. The valley preserves gallery forest that sustains the life even today. Early Man also did exploit the gallery forest and camped on the slopes near the river.
Amazingly no habitation or occupation have been noticed on the mountains beyond the slopes that substantially prove that Early Man never ventured into the high mountains that were and are barren even today,” said Prof Ganjoo who is also Director, Institute of Himalayan Glaciology, Department of Geology, University of Jammu, adding, on the contrary, Early Man preferred to remain near the river and exploit the gallery forest.
Similar sites have already been reported by Mr SB Ota. Regional Director, Central Region, Bhopal earlier from Upper Indus Valley that has been dated back to nearly 3,000 years before date. Joint investigations by the Archaeological Survey of India and University of Jammu, in the area shall continue in future to establish the antiquity, migratory routes and subsistence pattern of early transhumance population in the Indus Valley.
The investigation was a part of collaborative research programme between Archaeological Survey of India and University of Jammu and the other members of the team included Mr RK Dwivedi, Mr Chandrakant Bhandarkar, Mr SK Goswami, Mr Tsering Phunchok and Ms Sonam Spalzin Bangkolok, said Prof Ganjoo.