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16 March 2009
70,000-year-old findings unearthed in Orissa

In a major breakthrough, researchers from Sambalpur University recently discovered the cultural remains of a civilisation that is supposed to be more than 70,000 years old. The discovery was made at Barpadar village in the upper Jira river of Bargarh district in Orissa (India). "The site has tremendous potential for further research to unravel the Palaeolithic life in this part of the sub-continent," said the head of the research team P.K.Behera of the university's History department.
     The archaeological excavations were conducted near Barpadar village by the bank of the Jira river. The work was also assisted by Prakash Sinha of the Department of Archaeology, Allahabad Central University. The team, including history students of the university, found stone tools like axes, cleavers and scrapers at the site. The stone tools, used for food processing - cutting, chopping and scraping - were manufactured on par with European and African models.
     Behera and Sinha are of the opinion that the site was inhabited by the Palaeolithic band for food processing purposes. However, in the absence of evidence of on-site manufacturing of processing tools, the experts observed that these tools were manufactured elsewhere - where suitable raw materials such as fine-grained quartzite was available. The raw materials were brought to the site in finished forms for use. "Future excavations will reveal the nearby manufacturing sites also," Behera said.
     Behera added the geomorphological situation of the area indicated that the site must have provided an ideal environment with rich bio-diversity and a perennial water supply to the Palaeolithic settlers for prolonged inhabitation at the site. Plant phytolith samples were collected from the excavated deposit for further study, which will reflect the type of plants exploited by the early Hominids.

Source: Hindustan Times (8 March 2009)

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