Prehistoric Rock Shelter Sites around the Delta Head on the Lower Mahanadi Valley, Odisha
Odisha in the central eastern sector of Indian peninsula contains a rich repository of rock art in the form of pictographs and petroglyphs from prehistoric to early historic periods. These incredible evidences of the early human cognizance have very much survived in the rock shelters that are found on the uplands of western Odisha. These archaic rock-habitations are not only found with the different forms of rock art but also along with other artefacts in and around them. The district of Cuttack is located in the eastern part of Odisha forming a major portion of Mahanadi delta. Archaeological field survey recurrently carried out by the present author in different localities of Athagarh, Banki and Cuttack Sadar subdivisions in the district of Cuttack has led to the discovery of a good number of Stone Age sites associated with various lithic artefacts belonging to the lower Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic periods. His intensive survey around the delta head on the lower Mahanadi valley in the district has also resulted in the discovery of few rock shelter sites with evidences of typical petroglyphs along with the sites revealing the evidences of prehistoric artefacts in the nearby localities of the rock shelters. The rock shelters are mostly located on the sandstone hills of the Athgarh Gondwana Basin around the delta head of the river Mahanadi. The petroglyphs are found in two different rock shelters sites: one of which is located at the foothills of the Siddheswar Mundia near the village Naraj on the south of the Mahanadi and another at a natural cave on the west of the Haripuli hills in the Subasi Reserve Forest area on the north of the Mahanadi. Besides, the survey in the area has also resulted in the discovery of the remnant of a rock shelter on the Chepetihuri-a low flat hillock of sandstone close to the village Belasahi Saharasahi, a natural cave on the Ashur Tangi hills near the village of Anantapur, and a natural bunker (underground shelter) on the sandstone outcrops of Gondwana formation at the southwestern outskirt of the village Gayalabank on the lower Mahanadi valley in Cuttack district. This paper discusses broadly the archaeology and antiquity of the rock shelter sites investigated in the area.
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