Revealed: 4,000-year-old bone jewels

Archaeologists thrilled at first-time discovery of perfect ornaments near Hyderabad

August 07, 2017 12:31 am | Updated 09:40 am IST - HYDERABAD

Pieces of bone ornaments unearthed at Narmetta village on the outskirts of Hyderabad

Pieces of bone ornaments unearthed at Narmetta village on the outskirts of Hyderabad

Ancient jewellery and decoration has a new meaning, with the discovery of bone ornaments in Telangana that go back about 4,000 years. In a find that has excited archaeologists, 50 pieces of bone ornaments have been found in a hamlet of Narmetta, an agricultural village on the outskirts of Hyderabad.

Shaped precisely like a rhombus with round holes in the middle and circular indentations, these are thought to have been used as jewellery. Samples of the artefacts are being analysed at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad.

Historian Prof. K.P. Rao, who led the 2005 Gachibowli megalithic excavation that dated the earliest megalithic site to 2200 BC said, “Bone ornaments have not been found till date in India. We had perforated teeth but this I am hearing for the first time.”

Capstone found

Along with the bone ornaments, officials of the State Department of Archaeology and Museums (DAM) also unearthed one of the biggest capstones in the region. The stone, weighing about 42 tonnes, had to be moved using a crane. “The season was fantastic, with discoveries that have given us a better understanding of megalithic history [of the region]. Once the bone samples are analysed, we will know which animal they came from,” said N. R. Visalatchy of DAM.

A 20-acre site at the farming village of Siddipet was excavated earlier, and in 2017, archaeologists began digging at a raised mound. Here, they found their first anthropomorphic menhir — an upright stone with human traits. “Anthropomorphic menhirs have been documented at multiple locations in south India, dating between 1300 BC and 200 BC but this is a first for Telangana,” said Ramulu Naik, a DAM official.

The 2.95-metre menhir was vertical. “The tradition of anthropomorphic figurine worship continues among some tribes. So, I am not surprised at the finding,” said Prof. Rao. The team also found four well preserved fire stands used by people to keep warm. The pottery and other items were discovered at a three- metre depth.

“These findings are just a sample. Many of the other rock formations and burial sites have been disturbed or destroyed by the people living nearby so that they can cultivate their land. We have to carry out our excavations quickly, as I don’t think any of these sites will be allowed to remain in their present status,” said G. Nagaraju, who was part of the excavation team.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.