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Fresh Light on the Stone Ages in Southeast India

  • L. A. Cammiade and M. C. Burkitt

The first Indian Palaeolithic stone implement was found more than 60 years ago in a ballast pit at Pallavaram, a little to the west of the Madras-Trichinopoly road. Since then a large number of stone tools belonging to various prehistoric cultures have been discovered by several keen archaeologists, among whom Bruce Foote deserves special mention.

During the last fifteen years or so, however, little has been published from the southeast of the Peninsula, archaeological attention having been more specially focussed on the unsuspected Sumerian-like discoveries in the north. Nevertheless, both in Southeast India and in Africa, fresh information has been collected which is very important for the elucidation of the origins and movements of prehistoric cultures.

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1 Robert Bruce Foote was for some time Superintendent of the Geological Survey of India.

2 In this connexion see such writers as:- Lake, P. The Geology of South Malabar between the Beypore and Ponnani Rivers, Mem .G.S.I. 24 pt.3, 1890; Malcolm, Maclaren On the Origin of Certain Laterites, Geol. Mag. 1906, p.536; Mennell, F.P. Notes on Rhodesian Laterite, Geol. Mag., 1909, p.350.

3 The red colour is probably due to the underlying laterite. There is no evidence to show whether or not a dry period occurred between the formation of the red clay and the underlying beds of re-deposited laterite. On the whole it would seem wiser, until further work has been undertaken in the region, to assume that the deposition of the red clay was due to the setting in of less violent conditions towards the end of period 3.

4 See Burkitt, M.C. South Africa’s Past in Stone and Paint. Cambridge Press, 1928, p.55et seq.

5 It is possible that one or two flakes also occurred in the overlying brown clay.

6 A stone tool (plate 11, no. 10), a sort of coarse rubbing tool or plane, and from its state of preservation probably belonging to series 2, was found on the top of the mountains thereby. Today these Nala Malas are but sparsely inhabited owing to the thick bamboo forests and the presence of this implement is but another indication that a dry period probably existed there formerly.

7 Much exploration has still to be undertaken in cave sites. Bruce Foote mentions bone objects associated with fauna from the Billa Surgam caves in the Kurnool district,

8 Among these, however, was found a coarse burin on a long flake (plate v, no. 12 and fig. 111, no. 5).

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  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
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