Ratnagiri�s Pre-Historic Rock Art

Conservationists and experts are expressing concern over the potential impact of a proposed mega oil refinery in the Barsu village of Maharashtra's Ratnagiri district on ancient geoglyphs located in the area. These geoglyphs, which are rock art creations made by incising, carving, or abrading the surface of laterite plateaus, are protected by the state archaeology department and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and have been tentatively listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites. The UNESCO listing dates these sites at over 12,000 years old, but some experts believe they may be as old as 20,000 years and could be dated using carbon and geological methods.

What are Geoglyphs?

Geoglyphs, also known as petroglyphs, are a form of ancient rock art created on laterite plateaus. They are made by removing part of the rock surface or engraving a symbol onto it and can take the form of rock paintings, etchings, cup marks, and ring marks. Geoglyphs are found in clusters along the Konkan coastline in Maharashtra and Goa, covering a distance of approximately 900 km. The porous laterite rock in this region is ideal for carving and there are over 1,500 pieces of geoglyph art, also known as "Katal shilpa," at 70 sites in Ratnagiri district alone. UNESCO's tentative list of World Heritage sites includes seven sites with petroglyphs in Ratnagiri district, one in Sindhudurg district, and nine sites in Phansamal, Goa.

Significance of Ratnagiri's prehistoric rock art

Ratnagiri's geoglyphs are considered to be some of the oldest material evidence of human creativity in India and provide evidence of human settlements in the region from the Mesolithic era to the early historic period. The geoglyphs also depict a variety of fauna that is no longer present in the area today. In addition to providing insight into human resilience and adaptation to extreme climate fluctuations, the geoglyph clusters also showcase advanced artistic techniques, including etching and scooping in rock art. The figures depicted in the geoglyphs include humans and animals such as deer, elephants, tigers, monkeys, wild boars, rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses, cattle, pigs, rabbits, and monkeys, as well as reptiles, amphibians, aquatic animals, and birds.

Potential impact of the oil refinery

If built, the oil refinery could potentially damage the geoglyphs and disrupt the area's ecosystem, which has been shaped by the presence of these ancient artworks. The refinery could also have negative impacts on the local community, including air and water pollution and increased traffic. The proposed location of the refinery, in the Barsu-Solgaon site, was chosen after the original plan to build it in Nanar village was abandoned in 2019.

The proposed location of the mega oil refinery in Maharashtra's Ratnagiri district has raised concerns among conservationists and experts over the potential damage it could cause to ancient geoglyphs in the area. These geoglyphs, which are protected by the state archaeology department and the ASI and have been tentatively listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites, are significant for their age and the insight they provide into human settlements and adaptation to extreme climate fluctuations. The refinery could also have negative impacts on the local community and ecosystem. It is important to carefully consider the potential consequences of such projects before proceeding.

Written by princy

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