Ancient caves depicting 7000-year-old civilisation and culture discovered in India
A group of caves containing ancient rock art have been discovered by a researcher in Akkampalli, in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. The discovery has been described as archaeologically significant, as they shed light on civilisation and culture as early as 7,000 years ago.
The site, found by researcher K. Ramakrishna Reddy, is comprised of three natural caves and two rock-cut, all containing artworks that reflect the life, culture, traits and beliefs of the era. Curiously, they contain dozens of images of crocodiles, with one of the caves depicting a detailed life-size figure of a crocodile prominently drawn in red ochre.
The site has hence been named musalla gunda (‘boulder of crocodile’), and it has been suggested that the area must have contained crocodiles although there are no water bodies there currently. Depictions of crocodiles have been found at other rock art sites in India, including the artwork shown in the featured image, which was discovered in the Bhanpura-Gandhi Sagar area of Madhya Pradesh. The crocodile measures 1.45 metres in length and is depicted in x-ray style, which also shows the internal organs of the crocodile.
Two other famous prehistoric rock art sites can be found within Andhra Pradesh, including Ketavaram, a site containing 100 human and animal figures drawn on basalt rocks, belonging to a period ranging from 6,000 BC to 200 AD; and Chintakunta, the second largest rock art site in India, which contains 200 paintings in ten shelters bearing red and white paintings of deer, bulls, elephants, foxes, rabbits, hyenas, reptiles, birds, geometric designs and human figures. The site in Akkampalli is thought to be contemporary to the existing rock sites at Ketavaram and Chintakunta.
Map depicting the location of rock art sites. A. Chintakunta, B. Ketavaram, C. Akkampalli
One of the five caves in Akkampalli has been converted into a Shiva shrine referred to as Nainalappa gudi or Vibhuthipandla guha. Shiva is a popular Hindu deity and is considered to be the Supreme God within Shaivism, one of the three most influential denominations in Hinduism. Many ancient caves in India have been converted into Shiva shrines in more recent centuries. The below image depicts a Shiva shrine in the main Elephanta cave in Mumbai, dating back to the 5th or 6th century AD.
Shiva shrine in Elephanta cave. Photo source.
Although the rock art caves in Akkampalli have clearly been visited in recent times, evidenced by vandalism inside the caves, Mr Reddy said that there are no archaeological records of the caves and they have not yet been examined in academic literature. Mr Reddy has conducted a study on the caves as part of his doctoral thesis. Details of the study and photographs of the caves have not yet been released.
Featured image: Rock art image of a crocodile in Madhya Pradesh. Photo source.