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EDAKKAL CAVES

Written by Talent KAS

Related Topics: Art & Culture, Petroglyphs

Context

The Neolithic petroglyphs on the walls of Edakkal caves on the Ambukuthi hills in Wayanad district, Kerala are still awaiting protection from the threats of illegal constructions, mining, and urbanisation.

Edakkal Caves

  • They lie 1,200 m (3,900 ft) above sea level on Ambukutty Hills and are among the oldest human settlements ever discovered.
  • Inside the caves are pictorial writings believed to date to at least 6,000 BCE, from the Neolithic man, indicating the presence of a prehistoric civilization or settlement in this region.
  • The diversity of the engravings suggests that the Edakkal caves were inhabited several times at different points in history.
  • The oldest among them date back to 6000 B.C, to the age of Stone Age man.
  • The Muniyaras, or ancient burial sites that have been discovered in these hills have yielded a rich collection of ancient earthenware and pottery.

Name

  • Despite their name, the Edakkal Caves are not actually caves.
  • They are part of a pre historic rock shelter, formed naturally when one huge boulder got wedged between two bigger ones.
  • The name Edakkal itself means “a stone in between”.

Threats

  • The mushrooming of resorts on the hills by drastically altering the topography and rampant mining activities are the major threats being faced by the Edakkal caves.
  • The government had banned all types of construction on the premises of the caves to conserve the Neolithic engravings.
  • But illegal quarrying using explosives and construction of resorts have been going on without restraint.
  • The activities are posing a serious threat to the rock shelters and hundreds of families residing on the hill slopes.
  • Two huge water tanks, with a capacity of more than 1,000 litres, are being set up on the hill for resorts.
  • They pose a serious threat to the residents of a tribal settlement on the slopes of the hill.

UNESCO directive

  • A workshop held for conserving Edakkal petroglyphs in 2013, as part of securing World Heritage Monument status by the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) for the monument, had discussed potential threats to the rock carvings, including unrestricted construction and mining activities in the area and scientific measures to conserve the monument.
  • Though the workshop handed over its recommendations to the authorities, no action had been taken.

[Source: The Hindu, wayanad.gov]

 

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