A Mesolithic period rock painting depicting a person tilling a piece of land has been found by D. Kanna Babu, former Superintending Archaeologist of the Temple Survey Project (Southern Region) of the Archaeological Survey of India, Chennai, in Orvakallu village in Guntur district, Andhra Pradesh.
Mr. Kanna Babu told The Hindu that while surveying the lower River Krishna Valley to ascertain the architectural features of shrines, he identified a new prehistoric rock painting on the walls and ceiling of natural rock shelters on a hillock at Orvakallu.
“After an intensive exploration, it was noticed that these were shelters for prehistoric humans who lived at this place. Among these five naturally formed caves, two are embellished with distinguished depictions of rock paintings on the back walls and ceilings executed by people of Mesolithic Age, roughly [from] 5000 BC,” he said.
Mr. Babu added that the paintings were made with “natural white kaolin and red ochre pigments”, as well as that most of them had been “badly damaged” due to exposure to “air and wind”. “However, some of the sketches and outlines are still intact for the visitors, ” he said.
Ochre is a pigment composed of clay, sand, and ferric oxide. Kaolinite is a soft, earthy, and usually white mineral produced by the chemical weathering of aluminium silicate minerals like feldspar.
According to Mr. Babu, the find throws light on aspects of the social life and culture of the people who lived in the area.
One of the paintings depicted a man catching wild goat with his left hand while wielding a hook-like implement to control it. Another showed two couple standing with their hands raised while a child stood behind them.
Mr. Babu also singled out a painted figure of a man holding a plough and appearing to be tilling land -- an indication, in his telling, “of a semi-settled life pattern” in which members of this community domesticated animals and cultivated and harvested crops.
Earlier, in 2018, archaeologists had uncovered prehistoric rock art estimated to be from the Neolothic era, circa 1500-2000 BC, on natural limestone formations near Dachepalli in Guntur district.