Footprints of Neolithic age

Grooves dated 3000 BCE found near Pathari.

Published - July 21, 2016 04:17 pm IST

The shallow grooves found on a bed rock, near Pathari village on the Javadi Hills.  Photo: Special Arrangement

The shallow grooves found on a bed rock, near Pathari village on the Javadi Hills. Photo: Special Arrangement

Grooves on a bed rock, which were used for sharpening polished stone axes of Neolithic times, have been found at Pathari, a hamlet on the Javadi hills, an offshoot of the Eastern Ghats, in Tiruvannamalai district, Tamil Nadu. The grooves can be dated to circa 3000 BCE, that is, 5,000 years to the present. K. Umapathi, a student of post-graduate diploma course in Epigraphy and Archaeology, conducted by the Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department, discovered the grooves in a forested area a few weeks ago. Pathari is about 15 km west of Athipattu village in Kalasapakkam taluk, Tiruvannamalai district. Umapathi found 36 grooves on a bed rock in the middle of a jungle rivulet on the western side of Pathari.

Six more grooves were found about 700 metres north-west of Pathari in another hamlet called Periyavazhi Kollai. This is the second time that such grooves used for polishing Neolithic stone axes have been found in Tamil Nadu. Similar shallow grooves were reported earlier at Keezhanur on the Javadi hills in Vellore district by R. Ramesh of the ASI ( The Hindu , April 3, 2013). They had been found earlier at Sangnakallu-Kupagal in Ballari district Karnataka. According to Umapathy, Pathari villagers call the grooves “Bheeman Sunai” because they believe that Bheema of Mahabharatha, during the Pandavas’ sojourn in the forests, knelt down on the bed rock to drink water from the rivulet and the grooves were formed by the pressure from his toes, said Umapathi.

Many polished Neolithic stone axes were found around Pathari hamlet. Villagers had worshipped them as sami kal (divine stones) at temples in the nearby villages such as Nachamalai, Vazhakkadu and Nelvayal.

The grooves measure from nine cm to 45 cm in length, 2.50 cm to eight cm in width and 5.90 cm to 26.84 cm in depth at Pathari. The six grooves at Periyavazhi Kollai also vary in length, depth and width.

A team including P.T. Nagarajan, assistant epigraphist, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Chennai Circle, and local villagers visited the site and documented the grooves.

K. Rajan, Professor of History, Pondicherry University, said that the cultural transformation from food-gathering to production of food is considered a revolution in human history and it happened during the Neolithic times, about 5,000 years ago. He said that the stone tools, found around Pathari and Periyavazhi Kollai, were collected from cultivated fields in the vicinity.

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