The book takes back the antiquity of Delhi and neighbouring areas, located on the contours of the Aravallis, to several hundred thousand years back. It gives a first hand account of one of the biggest palaeolithic sites in the Indian sub-continent, discovered and excavated by the author, where Stone Age tools were recovered from different palaeo-channel areas in development sequence. The palaeo-channels were formed as a result of shifting of Yamuna, which in turn was caused due to massive tectonic movements. The richness of the site in variety and quality of tools makes it a text book site for the students of pre-history and also for the common man.
The book gives a glimpse of life of early men who roamed, prepared tools and hunted animals in an entirely different environmental and climatic conditions that prevailed around Delhi more than two hundred thousand years back. Profusely illustrated with maps, line drawings and rare photographs, the volume paints a vivid picture of life in Delhi and surrounding territories from earliest times to the beginning of the historical period.
The results of the excavations conducted by the author in 1991 and 1992, opens a vast area for further investigations in prehistoric archaeology and palaeo-anthropology as the palaeo-channels also hold promise for the possible discovery of fossil remains of Stone Age man in India.
Shri A.K. Sharma is a well known archaeologist of repute. He is internationally known for his original contribution in the field of archaeology and anthropology. During thirty three years of his hectic career, in different capacities in Archaeological Survey of India, he explored and excavated a number of sites throughout the length and breadth of the country, particularly in remote and inaccessible areas of North-East India. For the first time, through his field works he brought Sikkim and Lakshadweep island in the archaeological map of the country. To his credit goes the discovery and excavation of biggest Stone Age site Anangpur, near Delhi, the biggest pre-historic cave of Kachagad in Maharashtra, the sprawling nucleus megalithic sites in Chhatisgarh and the discovery of horse bones in Harappan context which have been internationally acknowledged.
He has to his credit more than 50 published research papers on anthropology, archaeo-zoology, pre-history and other aspects of archaeology. His recent book, Emergence of Early Culture in North-East India and his popular writings in the India Magazine have been widely acclaimed. At present, Shri Sharma is working as Officer on Special Duty in Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi.
It looks really strange that no one, Geologist, Anthropologist or Archaeologists bothered to explore and examine the Aravalli hills in and around Delhi, for several decades, for the possible evidence of existence of early man in the area. It is not that the area is environment such that any such evidence could have been totally ruled out. There was raw material, habitable climate, abundance of water and game in the valleys and gores of Aravallis that automatically man would have chosen it to be an ideal spot to roam about and settle down. But it appears the proverb that human nature is such that it tries to care and look beyond him and does not care to look around him is true. Even De Terra and Patterson failed to examine the area. Probably after the discovery of Sohan valley tools in north, Narmada tools in central India and Madras industry in south, every archaeologist got so much attracted to these arrears that he quietly ignored the area around the capital of India as people look for Prehistory in far off remote and inaccessible areas, jungles and river valley and not in the vicinity of modern towns, forgetting that these towns were also once forests and part of the same natural complex where wild these animals roamed. In spite of stray finds of tools, no one thought it proper to investigate the area in detail to answer the questions about isolated finds. It was only in 1991 that the Prehistory Branch of the Archaeological Survey of India, while returning from their Almora exploration-excavation trip, in the later part of June embarked upon to investigate later a part of the area thoroughly. Efforts made in temperatures rising to as high as 480 C. at the site, were amply rewarded. It was a hell of a job to explore and excavate for tools when quartzite crops of boulders have turned into furnace each. Water was also a problem. But as we saw men and women working for sand and boulders, a thought came, when this human being with their small children could work and live here why we can't. Of course our job was definitely physically less strenuous than theirs. My colleagues S/Shri S.B. Ota, S.S Gupta, R.k.Dwivedi, C.L. Yadav, N.k. Nimje, P.C. Dogra and T.B. Thapa, exerted themselves, got up early in the morning, packed and were in the site with the arrival of the sun. Once we started getting good evidences of tools, all were eager to have a look-the media persons T.V walas and Radio walas competed amongst themselves to bring the findings to the notice of the public and scholars at the earliest. Even Shri Bhaskar Ghosh, Secretary, Culture, Government of India could not resist his temptation to visit the site in the blazing heat. It was very unusual of a bureaucrat to visit an archaeological site and see everything for himself with interest, roaming in the hot winds of afternoon.
As the working days available were few in June, 1991, encouraged by the results of efforts, we again took up the job in November 1992. This was my last assignment in Survey before retirement on 30.11.1992. We were in the site still 26th of November, Struggling to beat time and cover as much area as possible. This times my colleagues S/Shri Ram Saran Superintending Archaeologist, Excavations Branch, New Delhi, I.D Dwivedi, and Asstt. Supdtg Archaeologist, R.K. Verma, Vinod Kumar, Chandrabhan, Charan Singh and Kesar Singh, all of Excavations Branch, New Delhi along with the colleagues from Prehistory Branch S/Shri J.S. Dubey, Pyara Singh, K.M.Girhe, Ghayasuddin, C.L. Yadav and R.G. Katole worked hard to beat the time and reach the target. We succeeded. The discovery attracted so much attention that Mrs. Thomas R. Pickering, Hon'ble Ambassador of U.S.A. to India and Mrs. Pickering visited the site and got so much impressed by the uniqueness of the site and types of tools, the pre-historic environment and our scientific pursuit, that they roamed all over the area for nearly three hours. Apart from our Survey's S/Shri B.R. Rajput, Jang Bahadur Thapa of Times T.V. and Mrs. Ruhi Tabassum Khan, Producer, Mass Communication Research Center, of Jamia Milia-Islamia recorded every detail of our working and the site for projecting to the students and public. The recorded programme was promptly telecast by Doorarshan, New Delhi.
I am grateful to all of them for their effort and for giving so much valve and importance to the work of a pre-historian. All this could be done in a limited time with very limited resources only due to the spontaneous response of one man and he is Shri M.C. Joshi, Director General, and Archaeological Survey of India. I am deeply beholden to him and for that matter for all that I could do during my very brief period of stay as the Head of Prehistory Branch of the Survey. I will feel amply rewarded if the work of investigations in and around Delhi in the Aravallis is further continued by the Survey.
A very short report of two very short seasons work is before you, of course with many lacunae, like absence of plenty of line drawings of tools, critical analysis of the findings of 1992 etc. but I could not help it as the time at my disposal was too short before retirement. I could not press too hard Shri J.S.Dubey for more line drawings, as in spite of hardly few months left for his retirement; he was overworked with my other reports. The jobs could not be entrusted to other Draftsman as Shri Dubey is the last in the last in the line of brilliant draftsmen of Prehistory Branch who knows the intricate art of pre-historic drawing. I wish someone picks up from him before he retires. All the illustrations are by courtesy Archaeological Survey of India.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
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