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Megalith menhir with rock engravings found

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Throwing new light:Freelance archaeologist K. Venkateswara Rao stands beside the menhir which he discovered at Karampudi mandal in Guntur district.
Throwing new light:Freelance archaeologist K. Venkateswara Rao stands beside the menhir which he discovered at Karampudi mandal in Guntur district.

P. Samuel Jonathan

The stone art dates back to 1000-300 B.C.

GUNTUR: A megalith menhir with rock engravings, called petroglyphs, carved on it has been discovered on an open field on the left bank of Nagaleuru, a tributary of the Krishna at Karampudi, 100 km from Guntur.

The menhir is a significant remnant of the pre-historic megalithic civilisation, when humans used signs to communicate, and dates back to 1000 B.C-300 B.C. Menhirs throw light on socio-ritualistic and ancestral beliefs. Archaeological evidence indicates they were also used as places of worship.

A freelance archaeologist, K. Venkateshwara Rao, based at Tenali, discovered the menhir on a vast stretch of open field, which is believed to be a necropolis (cemetery), adjacent to the Karampudi-Dachepalli Road.

The necropolis was first discovered during 1870-71 by J.S. Boswell, Collector, Krishna, himself a keen archaeologist.

The lone and imposing Menhir is a standing stone erected in memory of the dead ones.

‘Rare discovery'

Mr. Rao, who traced the Menhir after years of research, calls it a “rare and unusual discovery and probably the first-of-its kind in the country.”

While menhirs have been found in parts of Khammam, Warangal, Madhumala in Mahaboobnagar and Medak districts in Andhra Pradesh and at Boorj Home in Jammu and Kashmir, it is the first time a menhir with petroglyphs was found.

The rock engravings are at a height of 8-9 feet from the ground. The upper row has four concentric circles with four small lines and a small pointed base. Archaeological reports point that the figures resemble the Muslim religious symbols ‘peer.'

Below these circular figures, shapes of a crawling animal with an elongated head, probably that of a mongoose, a humped bull with V-shaped antlers and a peacock are found. In the last row, two men are seen carrying a pole on their shoulders and moving east (sun).

Auspicious period

A close observation of the menhir shows that it is erected facing north-east, pointing to the fact that it could have been erected during ‘uttarayana punya kalam' considered an auspicious period.

While the circular figures in the shape of a human head on the upper row depict the ancestral and ritualistic worship of the pre-historic human race, the row below it has figures of domestic animals and show that pre-historic man co-existed with animals and also domesticated them. The engravings of a tiger show that man hunted for livelihood.

“The rare discovery is of great historical importance and could lead to further study on pre-historic civilisations in the country,'' Mr. Rao said.

Corrections and Clarifications(The fourth paragraph of a report "Megalith menhir with rock engravings found" (May 9, 2010) was "The lone and imposing Menhir, a standing stone erected in memory of the dead ones, measures 19.2 inches in height, 4.2 inches in width and is 7 inches thick." The dimensions quoted should have been in "feet".)

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