Sunday, January 11, 2009

Mankind’s date with Indian land mass!


The archeological study reports on the deposits at Jwalapuram in Andhra Pradesh had confirmed our earlier and persistent views that human settlement in South India had been there for ages and that this land was a huge one called as Kumari that stretched in between Indonesia, Africa and Australia. The sea in the east (Bay of Bengal) was not there and it was a continuation of the land mass. (It was later dug by the ancestors of Rama of Ikshvaku – explained in many posts in this blog based on narration in Valmiki Ramayana)  The soot from the volcano eruption in Indonesia that happened 78,000 years ago had settled everywhere in India and  Africa.

The similarity in the findings of the soot / tools / artifacts / skeletal remains in these regions  made the researchers think that man spread out from Africa to India.

But I do not think of a 'migration' kind. I wonder why there was a need for migration at a time when land forms were close or non-ripped. People existed in the vast land mass and had easily moved throughout. Here we should not think of the land mass of the present day. Today the Indian sub continent is moving northward at the rate of 9 metres per century. Just imagine where it would have been some 78,000 years ago.

At a time of 80k years ago the rate of movement must have been even more. At present, the movement is too restricted and slowed down due to the already – reached limits of pushing the Russian plate. This land mass south of the Himalayas which contained Kumari  must have been the jambhoo dweepa (naavalam theevu) , now known as a mythical Lemuria. From Sangam texts we know that India was spread far down the south.


Look at the name where the archeological finds have been found – Jwalapuram!

Is it not reminding of the jwala or flames of a volcano?

The remembrance of a volcanic eruption that happened

in the unified landmass of Jambhoodweepa perhaps found its way

in that place which bore the brunt of the eruption!


Look at the name of the river in this place, 'Jurreru'.

Does it not remind us of the Jumbhoo river of Jambhoo dweepa as told in olden texts?

The oldest race in Andaman also confirms that mankind in traceable time

had existed in this place called Jambhoo dweepa.

If so, the Africa centric evolution of man may have to be reviewed one day!


-         jayasree





Mankind's continuing settlement in India ca. 80k years ago


Science 6 July 2007:
Vol. 317. no. 5834, pp. 114 - 116
DOI: 10.1126/science.1141564     


Middle Paleolithic Assemblages from the Indian Subcontinent Before and After the Toba Super-Eruption

Michael Petraglia,1,2* Ravi Korisettar,3 Nicole Boivin,1 Christopher Clarkson,4 Peter Ditchfield,5 Sacha Jones,1 Jinu Koshy,3 Marta Mirazón Lahr,1 Clive Oppenheimer,6 David Pyle,7 Richard Roberts,8 Jean-Luc Schwenninger,5 Lee Arnold,8 Kevin White9


The Youngest Toba Tuff (YTT) eruption, which occurred in Indonesia 74,000 years ago, is one of Earth's largest known volcanic events. The effect of the YTT eruption on existing populations of humans, and accordingly on the course of human evolution, is debated. Here we associate the YTT with archaeological assemblages at Jwalapuram, in the Jurreru River valley of southern India. Broad continuity of Middle Paleolithic technology across the YTT event suggests that hominins persisted regionally across this major eruptive event.


The Youngest Toba Tuff (YTT) eruption of 74,000 years ago (74 ka) was Earth's largest volcanic event in the past two million years. It was two orders of magnitude larger (in erupted mass) than the largest known historic eruption, that of Tambora, also in Indonesia. The YTT involved the eruption of a minimum of 2800 km3 (7 x 1015 kg) of which at least 800 km3 was transported in atmospheric ash plumes that blanketed an area from the South China Sea to the Arabian Sea . Its impact on Earth's atmosphere and climate and on local animal and plant populations remains a matter of contention.


The Indian subcontinent contains extensive YTT deposits. Here we describe an archaeological sequence from south India that includes a substantial YTT layer and sheds light on the eruption's impact on climate, environments, and hominin populations. In the Kurnool District of Andhra Pradesh in southern India, stratified archaeological sites in the Jurreru River valley contain stone artifacts in association with faunal remains in caves, rockshelters, and open-air localities. The archaeological record spans all periods of the Paleolithic. In addition, current mining activities have exposed tephra deposits over an area of 64 ha. Ash is, however, certainly buried over a wider area within the valley (fig. S1), and we estimate its total volume at 7 ± 0.7 x 105 m3, based on the interpolation of 225 depth observations made at mining exposures.             Fig. 1. Location of Jwalapuram, archaeological sites, and tephra deposits. (A) Location of the Jwalapuram study area. (B) Key archaeological localities in the Kurnool District include the Upper Paleolithic caves of Billasurgum (1) (17) and Muchchatla Chintamanu Gavi (2) (16). Jwalapuram localities include 17 (3, Middle Paleolithic), 9 (4, Microlithic), 3 (5, Middle Paleolithic), 20 (6, Middle Paleolithic), 21 (7, Middle Paleolithic), and Tank (8, Acheulean). [View Larger Version of this Image (21K GIF file)]



We conducted electron probe microanalysis (EPMA) of volcanic glass shards from the Jwalapuram tephra to compare their geochemical signatures with those of the Older Toba Tuff (OTT, dated to ~840 ka) and the Middle Toba Tuff (MTT, dated to 500 ka) . The results show that the Jwalapuram ash is a distal deposit of the YTT (figs. S3 and S4), based on its close similarities with proximal deposits of YTT in Sumatra and with previously characterized distal occurrences in India.


Jwalapuram locality 3 preserves more than 7.5 m of sedimentary deposits, including a 2.55-m-thick deposit of ash, and a sequence of lithic artifacts that straddle the ash layer (fig. S2). Soft sediment deformation structures suggest that the tephra initially accumulated on a wet clay substrate, probably in a lacustrine environment. The abrupt transition from light gray ash to an orange (but still ash-rich) silt horizon immediately above the ash sequence represents a major change in depositional regime. We interpret this as evidence that the lake dried up soon after the ash fall, possibly during the onset of glacial conditions in oxygen isotope stage 4.


The stone tool assemblages were found in trenches placed across the landscape (that is, at Jwalapuram localities 3, 17, and 21). At Jwalapuram locality 3, we used optical dating to obtain burial ages for sediment samples from archaeological layers above (JLP-380) and below (JLP3A-200) the ash. Ages of 77 ± 6 and 74 ± 7 ka were obtained for the pre- and post-Toba samples, respectively (tables S2 and S3). These indicate that the dated quartz grains were last exposed to sunlight shortly before and after the Toba eruption, with no substantial hiatus in sediment deposition.


The pre-Toba archaeological layer at locality 3, chronologically bracketed by the ~74,000-year-old YTT and the underlying sediments dated to 77 ± 6 ka, contained 215 artifacts as well as a piece of red ochre that shows striations due to use. This stone tool assemblage consists of faceted unidirectional cores made from limestone (60%), quartzite (22%), and chert (11%), with elongate parallel flake scars indicating the production of blades. Frequent preparation of flake platforms is seen, suggesting that these flakes were struck from prepared cores similar to those found at the site. A small proportion of flakes were retouched into notches, informal scrapers, retouched blades, and a burin . This pre-Toba assemblage falls within the Indian Middle Paleolithic.

                                                    Fig. 2. Selected Jwalapuram artifacts that pre-date (locality 3) and post-date (localities 3, 17, and 21) the YTT. Above the ash: 1, bladelet core with faceted platform; 2 and 3, flake cores with faceted platforms; 4, side scraper; 5, utilized flake; 6, atypical end scraper on blade; 7, side and end scraper; 8, utilized flake; 9, broken blade; 10, broken blade. Below the ash: 11, notch and burin; 12, ventrally retouched side scraper; 13, side scraper on broken blade; 14, side scraper on ridge straightening flake; 15, ventrally retouched side and end scraper; 16, ventrally retouched scraper; 17, notch; 18, ground ochre. Scale bar, 1 cm. [View Larger Version of this Image (58K GIF file)]



The post-Toba layer at locality 3, optically dated to 74 ± 7 ka, contains an assemblage of 108 stone artifacts that occur throughout the orange sandy stratum; a further 37 and 131 artifacts were recovered from the same matrix above the ash at localities 17 and 21, respectively. The technology and tool types at these three post-ash localities are similar to those found in the pre-ash assemblage, involving faceted unidirectional cores with some blade scars . However, raw materials were used in different frequencies (limestone 31%, chert 28%, chalcedony 23%, and quartzite 12%). Most flakes are short and squat, although a few blades and bladelets (<2 cm in length) are also present (<5%), along with a bladelike core and a small bidirectional blade core with a faceted platform . Retouched flakes above the ash include notches and side and end scrapers. Burins and bipolar reduction are also present, but rare. This combination of tool types is common in Late Pleistocene assemblages of India, usually identified as Middle Paleolithic .

We provide here firm chronological evidence that hominins were present in the Jurreru River valley, south India, immediately before and after the YTT eruption. Analyses of the archaeological industries recovered from the site indicate a strong element of technological continuity between the pre- and post-Toba assemblages. Together with the presence of faceted unidirectional and bidirectional bladelike core technology, these pre- and post-Toba industries suggest closer affinities to African Middle Stone Age traditions (such as Howieson's Poort) than to contemporaneous Eurasian Middle Paleolithic ones that are typically based on discoidal and Levallois techniques.

The coincidence of (i) evidence of hominins flexible enough to exhibit continuity through a major eruptive event, (ii) technology more similar to the Middle Stone Age than the Middle Paleolithic, and (iii) overlap of the Jwalapuram artifact ages with the earlier end of the most commonly cited genetic coalescence dates  may suggest the presence of modern humans in India at the time of the YTT event. This interpretation would be consistent with a southern route of dispersal of modern humans from the Horn of Africa ; the latter, however, will remain speculative until other Middle Paleolithic sites in the Indian subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula are excavated and dated.

                                                    Fig. 3. Discriminant analysis of 670 cores from Middle Stone Age (MSA), Middle Paleolithic (MP), and early Upper Paleolithic (UP) contexts in Africa, the Levant, and India. Functions 1 and 2 account for 70.1% of the variation. Functions 1 to 3 are all significant at the P = < 0.0005 level. JWP, Jwalapuram; KRM, Klasies River Mouth. [View Larger Version of this Image (30K GIF file)]



References and Notes

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  • 26. This project was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) (Environmental Factors in the Chronology of Human Evolution and Dispersal program), the Leakey Foundation, the NERC Arts and Humanities Research Council Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Dating Service, the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, the Australian Research Council, and Queens' College (Cambridge). We thank the Archaeological Survey of India for permission to conduct the field work and the other participants in the project for their contributions to the excavations and artifact cataloguing. We thank C. Chesner for providing tephra samples; C. Hayward for technical support on the electron microprobe; and R. Foley, Z. Jacobs, T. Kivisild, and P. Mellars for useful discussions.





Modern humans reached India early

N. Gopal Raj (The Hindu, Date:09/07/2007 )

Evidence found in excavations by international team of scientists at Jwalapuram in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In the course of archaeological excavations at Jwalapuram in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh, an international team of scientists has found evidence that anatomically modern humans are likely to have reached India before a massive volcanic eruption in what is today Indonesia occurred tens of thousands of years ago.


The "super-eruption" of the Toba volcano in Sumatra some 74,000 years ago was the largest volcanic event to have occurred in the last two million years and the ash thrown up high into the atmosphere by that cataclysmic explosion reached India too, said Ravi Korisettar of the Department of History and Archaeology at Karnatak University in Dharwad, Karnataka.

During five years of excavations at Jwalapuram, Indian, British, and Australians scientists unearthed fine stone flakes that had been turned into tools for various purposes.

The stone tools were to be found in layers of earth above as well as below the fine ash from the Toba super-eruption, the scientists noted in a paper published in the latest issue of the journal Science.

"Volcanic winter"

It had been thought that the vast amounts of volcanic ash flung into the atmosphere by the eruption could have blocked sunlight and produced a "volcanic winter" that decimated the humans living then. But the evidence from the Jwalapuram excavations, however, suggests that the volcanic eruption did not have such a catastrophic impact on the early human population there.

Stone tools

The stone tools also pointed to a more exciting possibility. The stone tool assemblages found in Jwalapuram were "very similar to ones that we see produced in Africa at the same time," said Michael Petraglia of the Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies at the University of Cambridge in the U.K, the first author of the paper.

Those stone tools in Africa had been produced by modern humans.

"Closer affinities"

In the Science paper, the researchers noted that the techniques used for making the stone tools at Jwalapuram suggested "closer affinities" to African Middle Stone Ages traditions than to contemporaneous Eurasian ones. T his finding is significant because genetic studies of tell-tale patterns in the DNA of people living in various parts of the world have supported the view that all modern humans arose in Africa.

It is believed that these modern humans then migrated out of Africa and settled all across the globe.

"So what we are saying is that modern humans probably dispersed from Africa into India at a very early date, earlier than anyone has suggested before," Dr. Petraglia told this correspondent.

There is a hypothesis that modern humans could have taken the "southern route of dispersal," utilising the coastlines to travel from Africa, through Arabia, across the Indian subcontinent and then into South-East Asia and finally into Australia, he said. The presence of modern humans in India at the time of the Toba super-eruption would be consistent with humans having used the southern route, but would remain speculative till further excavations were carried out in the Indian subcontinent and Arabian peninsula, remarked the scientists in their journal paper.

Key role

India has a played a key role in the migration of modern humans out of Africa, says K. Thangaraj of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology at Hyderabad. In a paper published in Science two years ago, Dr. Thangaraj and others held that genetic lineages to be found among Andaman islanders supported an out-of-Africa migration by modern humans some 50,0000 to 70,000 years ago.

Archaeological data

Dr. Korisettar is, however, sceptical about modern humans opting for a coastal route for their migration.

There was currently no archaeological evidence of such ancient human migrations along India's west coast and into southern Tamil Nadu. Rather, the available archaeological data favoured a continental route whereby early humans came through the Bolan and Khyber passes to the north-western parts of the Indian subcontinent and then into Rajasthan before dispersing to other parts of the country, he added.




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sridhar said...

By god grace i can through the blog today. really a wonderful job

Jayasree Saranathan said...

Thanks Mr Sridhar