Some of the Archeological Discoveries of 2003
1. Ancient Cities in Tamil Nadu May Be Over 7,000 Years Old.
CHENNAI, INDIA, January 5, 2003: A British marine archaeologist and author Graham Hancock has been examining a submerged city on the East Coast of Tamil Nadu. Mr. Hancock says a civilization thriving there may predate the Sumerian civilization of Mesopotamia in present-day Iraq and definitely existed before the Harappan civilization in India and Pakistan. He has been excavating the site off the coast of Poompuhar, near Nagapattinam, 400 km south of Chennai. At a meeting of the Mythic Society in Bangalore in early December, Mr. Hancock said underwater explorations in 2001 provided evidence that corroborated Tamil mythological stories of ancient floods. He said tidal waves of 400 feet or more could have swallowed this flourishing port city any time between 17,000 and 7,000 years ago, the date of the last Ice Age. The Gulf of Cambay was also submerged, taking with it evidence of early man's migration. The populations Mr. Wells and Mr. Pitchappan (see previous article) mapped settled on India's East Coast 50,000 to 35,000 years ago and developed into modern man. According to Hancock, "the Poompuhar underwater site could well provide evidence that it was the cradle of modern civilization." Hancock's theory is strengthened by findings of India's National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), which has explored the site since the 1980s. Man-made structures like well rims, horseshoe-shaped building sites are some of the lost city's secrets. At low tide, some brick structures from the Sangam era are still visible in places like Vanagiri. The region, archaeologists say, has been built over and over again through the ages and some of its past is now being revealed. Mr. Glenn Milne, a British geologist from Durham University, has confirmed Hancock's theory. More information is found at: http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_132193,000900020001.htm
2. The Ancient Gene Pool of Tamil Nadu.
CHENNAI, INDIA, January 5, 2003: India's East Coast, especially along Tamil Nadu, is increasingly drawing the attention of archaeologists and anthropologists from across the world for its evolutionary and historical secrets. The focus has sharpened after genetic scientist Spencer Wells found strains of genes in some communities of Tamil Nadu that were present in the early man of Africa. In the "Journey of Man" aired by the National Geographic channel, Wells says the first wave of migration of early man from Africa took place 60,000 years ago along the continent's east coast to India. Genetic mapping of local populations provided the evidence. R.M. Pitchappan, a professor of Madurai Kamaraj University in Tamil Nadu, helped Wells collect the gene evidence from Tamil Nadu's Piramalai Kallar people, inhabiting the Madurai and Usilampatti areas 500 km south of Chennai. The community was once quite strong and independent. Their genes have the amino acid bands found in the gene map of the original man from Africa, and similar to bands in the Australian aborigines. Says Pitchappan, "The ancestors of the Kallar community may have come into India from the Middle East." Wells believes there were three waves of migration that early man undertook. According to Mr. Wells and his Indian collaborator, early man went from Africa to the Middle East, on to Kutch on India's west coast, all around to the peninsula's east coast and then on to Australia. "These gene pools are unique and very accurately map the path a population has taken, leaving behind original communities to grow into independent groups but with a common ancestor," explains Pitchappan. More information is found at: http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_132193,000900020001.htm
3. New Theories Place Ancient Humans in India
HYDERABAD: In a new twist to the theory of evolution of modern man, researchers have found two tribes in India who could be the descendants of the biological Adam and Eve who are estimated to have lived in Africa over 100,000 years ago.
Researchers at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) here say they have with them the genetic `black boxes' which indicate that a tribe in Kerala and another in Gujarat could be the descendants of the first people ever to set foot in Asia.
The new finding negates the widely-held belief in the scientific community that the first people to land in Asia belonged to a branch of the migratory population that exploded out of Africa over 60,000 years ago. The CCMB study shows that the two tribal groups may have settled much before the Asian branch reached the subcontinent, just before the last Ice Age.
The researchers say the two tribes are the oldest so far discovered genetically and may have landed from Africa in Gujarat, migrated to Kerala and then to the Andamans where they got trapped by the sea and warped in time.
The new theory also establishes that the enigmatic tribes of the Andamans are the descendants of a tribal population of Asia and not Africa. Western studies have tried to link the Andamanese tribals to the African pygmies, but DNA analysis shows that this may not be true.
The Andamanese tribals are short in stature, have ebony-black skin, peppercorn hair and large buttocks, making them a mirror image of the African pygmies. But the new study published in Current Biology dumps the western pygmy model to assert that the tribals are actually genetically closer to Asian than to African populations.
The two tribal populations in India were discovered when CCMB Director Prof Lalji Singh and his team did the first genetic analysis of the Jarawa and Onge tribals of the Andamans. He then tried to compare the DNA signatures with a few of the 532 tribal populations in the mainland and found a match in a community in Kerala and Gujarat. But to his surprise, he found that these tribals in the mainland were much older than the Onges and Jarawas.
Singh, however, refused to reveal the names of the two tribal groups in India for fear of their population being `hunted' for their genes.
Of the dozen tribes, who populated the islands since ages, only four survive--the Sentinelese, Jarawas, Great Andamanese and Onge. While there has been no contact with the Sentinelese so far, the Jarawas still live in the forest and the Onges have started joining the mainstream.
``Our results show that the native Andamanese belong to a unique group not previously identified anywhere else in the world,'' Singh told reporters.
The CCMB finding was the result of the analysis of mitochondria DNA, a genetic element passed down only through women. This showed that the Onges and Jarawas belong to a lineage known as M that is common throughout Asia. This establishes them as Asians, not Africans, among whom a different mitochondria lineage, called I, is dominant.
The researchers then looked at the Y chromosome, which is passed down only through men and often gives a more detailed picture of genetic history than the mitochondria DNA. The Onge and Jarawa men turned out to carry a special change or mutation in the DNA of their Y chromosome that is thought to be indicative of the Palaeolithic population of Asia, the hunters and gatherers who preceded the first human settlements.
The discovery of Marker 174 among the Andamanese suggests that they too are part of the relic Palaeolithic population, descended from the first modern humans to leave Africa.
No archaeological record of these epic journeys has been found, perhaps because the world's oceans were 120 meters lower during the last Ice Age and the evidence of early human passage is under water, says Singh.
The study was done by Singh and his colleagues at CCMB with their co-workers in
the US, New Zealand and Norway. Other Indian scientists involved in the study
are K. Thankaraj and Alla Reddy of CCMB, V Raghavendra Rao of the
Anthropological Survey, and Subhash Sehgal of Port Blair.
4. Ancient seals found at Hatab excavation site
TIMES NEWS NETWORK[ SATURDAY, MARCH 08, 2003 01:03:13 AM ]
VADODARA: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) Vadodara circle, has
unearthed 160 ancient seals, with the Brahmi script inscribed on them, from the
Hatab excavation site, located some 20 km south of Bhavnagar. The seals are said
to be 2000 years old and were probably used to stamp goods that were to be
"For the past one year, we have worked at the site and have dug up several artefacts. All of them suggest that Hatab might well be the ancient trading centre, referred to as `Ashtakapra' in the ancient Greek work `Periplus' and which also finds a mention in historical records of ancient geographer and eminent astronomer Ptolemy," says ASI superintending archaeologist and director of excavations, Shubhra Pramanik.
"The city has been recorded in history as a flourishing port in the 2nd, 5th and 6th Century AD. The seals come from a pocket of the mud fortified ancient town, which is surrounded by a moat. The moat has an inlet that leads to the Gulf of Cambay thus suggesting sea trade," says Pramanik.
During ancient times, it is said that this part of Gujarat had extensive trade links with Greece and other parts of the world. Proving this fact are finds of the ASI like the Roman amphora (double-handled wine jug peculiar to Rome), copper coins and terracotta artefacts. Even in Kautilya's Arthashatra, it is mentioned about the practice of collecting taxes from ships sailing in the sea and rivers.
"The job of the `Antapala' (officer stationed at the border coast) was to collect taxes and also control the quality of goods that were to be exported. The seals are a rare find and they must have been used to mark the goods that were exported," adds Pramanik. The seals are well etched and are round and oblong in shape, almost similar to rubber stamps that are used today.
Pramanik says that other significant findings at the site include two bronze artefacts, one of a humped bull and another one of a human bust having Greek affinities. "There is also a terracotta face of a woman. From the head gear it appears to be the daughter of Celucas and the grandmother of Ashoka," says Pramanik. According to her, the ruins in Hatab not only reveal Shaivite artefacts of the Maitreka period but also indicate the influence of Buddhism. "The site also has grain shells and a step-well, which indicates presence of a shell factory here," she adds.
The excavated Roman amphora, copper and silver coins, terracotta items and Indo-Greek artifacts, all seem to support the claim that Hatab might well be `Ashtakapra', the trade centre in `Siristhrin' (Saurashtra), located opposite to `Barigaza' (Bharuch) opposite to the mouth of `Namades' (Narmada).
5. More Vedic Temples Discovered in Cambodia.
CAMBODIA, March 6, 2003: Nearly 40 kilometers from the Thai-Cambodia border the Chen Sran temple has been discovered in the jungle of the northern Preah Vihear province. It was built in the ninth or tenth century, and is dedicated to the Hindu tradition, cultural officials said. The monument was known to authorities only after local villagers reported it to a provincial cultural officer, said Uong Von, chief of the heritage department at Cambodia's Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts. The temple stands 15 meters tall, and is 150 meters in length by 100 meters wide. Nearly 50 percent of the structure is damaged and most of its artifacts have been plundered, even though there is no decent road to the temple. "The temple remains were only a body -- there were no artifacts," said Von. Almost a dozen previously unknown temples have turned up in the last decade, said the expert. He also believes there are more temples lying undiscovered in the same area along the Thai-Cambodia border. From: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/03/05/1046826443356.html
6. Major Anthropology Find Reported in India
September 09, 2003
CALCUTTA, India, Sept. 8 (UPI) -- Scientists report they have found evidence of the oldest human habitation in India, dating to 2 million years, on the banks of the Subarnarekha River. The 30-mile stretch between Ghatshila in the province of Jharkhand and Mayurbhanj in Orissa has reportedly yielded tools that suggest the site could be unique in the world, with evidence of human habitation without a break from 2 million years ago to 5,000 B.C.
Anthropologist S. Chakraborty told the Calcutta Telegraph: "There are no signs of terra incognito (a break in the continuum) in the Subarnarekha valley, unlike any other site in India. Some of the heavier tools resemble those found in the East African stone-age shelters, used by the Australopithecus."
Chakraborty said the uninterrupted habitation could make the site more important than even the Aldovai Gorge in East Africa, the Somme Valley of France, Stonehenge in England, the Narmada basin in Madhya Pradesh and the Velamadurai-Pallavaram rectangle in Tamil Nadu.
7. Ancient Fossil on Ancient Sarasvati River
By Soni Sinha, May 1, 2003
An elephant fossil found in Rajasthan desert has drawn the attention of historians who say it could provide vital clues to the existence of the mythological river Saraswati. The discovery was made on the Nagaur-Bikaner road, 350 km from Jaipur."Carbon dating in the fossil would be the most important evidence in this connection," said B S Paliwal, the man behind the discovery. "The findings will soon be submitted to scientific journals."
The fossil in Rajasthan, the land of the Thar desert, indicates that the region was once rich in biodiversity. Paliwal claims this is the first time an elephant fossil has been found there. Ram Singh Solanki, president of Itihaas Sankalan Samiti, or the Organisation of Historical Evidence, said the discovery was yet another proof that the Vedic river Saraswati once flowed in what is today the Thar region.
"Evidence suggests that the Saraswati-Sindhu civilisation flourished in an area of nearly 1.3 million sq km. "Investigations on the fossil are important as it could throw light on the development of the human civilisation, besides having a bearing on Indian history," said Solanki. Numerous signatures of paleo-channels in the form of curvilinear and meandering courses were revealed. IANS
[This article and more information at www.stephen-knapp.com]
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