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Kerala - Thiruvananthapuram Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Unlocking the secrets of history

By Our Staff Reporter

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, DEC. 5. In Marayur, history has opened its doors again, after a gap of 30 years.

Late last month, a new cluster of prehistoric rock shelters was unearthed in the Alampetti-Cheruthulli region in the Chinnar wildlife sanctuary, marking the second major archaeological discovery in Idukki district.

The State Superintending Archaeologist and Chief Vigilance Officer S. Padmanabhan Thampy realised he was onto something big when he stumbled upon the caves during one of his periodic visits to the area.

Earlier discovery

In 1974, Mr. Thampy had created archaeological history when he chanced upon a cluster of ancient caves in the Anjinad valley of Devikulam taluk.

Later named the Marayur cluster, they were noted for the unique rock paintings and burial chambers, also known as dolmans or `muniyaras.'

While the dolmans date back to the Megalithic period (100 BC to 200 AD), the paintings were found to belong to the Mesolithic period (6500 BC and earlier).

Resemblance to cave art

Further studies revealed that the paintings bear a striking resemblance to the cave art found in Altamira in Spain, Lascaux in France, Antolia in Syria and Oran in Algeria, besides Mirzapur in Madhya Pradesh.

"Preliminary studies show that the new cluster belongs to the same group as the earlier caves, with Microlithic culture dating back to 6500 BC," says Mr. Thampy.

The newly-discovered caves have been named `Maanala' (`the cave of the deer') to signify the rock paintings which depict animals like deer.

The earlier ones in the Anjinad valley were named `Ezhuthala' (`cave of writings'), `Aattala' (`cave of dancing') and `Pulachiala' (`cave of the downtrodden').

A member of the World Body of Archaeologists headquartered in Australia, Mr. Thampy has over 31 years of experience in research.

He was aided in the discovery of the `Maanala' caves by Dhanuskodi, an eco-sanctuary promoter, and Babu, a village assistant.

Eco-tourism

Mr. Thampy has submitted a proposal to the Government highlighting the potential to develop Marayur into an eco-adventure tourism destination. He has also mooted a global prehistoric rock art conference at Marayur.

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