Guntur district is home to prehistoric cultures that have interested archeologists across the world. A pathbreaking discovery of megalithic menhirs with rock engravings called petroglyphs, in an open field on the left bank of Nagaleru, a tributary of the Krishna river at Karampudi, 100 km from Guntur, has again brought the focus on the study of prehistoric civilisations.
The menhir is one of the significant remnants of the prehistoric megalithic civilisation, when humans used signs to communicate, and dates back to 1000-300 B.C. Menhirs throw light on the socio-ritualistic and ancestral beliefs. Archaeological evidence indicates that they were also used as places of worship.
A freelance archaeologist K. Venkateshwara Rao, based at Tenali, has 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, then District Collector, Krishna, who was also a keen archaeologist.
The lone and imposing menhir, a standing stone erected in memory of the dead, is 19.2 feet tall, 4.2 feet wide and 7 feet thick.
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, Mahaboobnagar and Medak districts in Telangana and at Boorj Home in Jammu and Kashmir, it is first time that petroglyphs have been found engraved on a menhir.
A close observation of the menhir shows that it is erected facing north-east direction towards the sun, pointing to the fact that it could have been erected during the `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 prehistoric human race, the row below that has figures of domestic animals and shows that the prehistoric man had co-existed with animals and also domesticated them. The engravings of a tiger also show that man hunted for livelihood, he says.