Raider of the lost art

Apr 27, 2019, 01:32 AM

Early last year, Jinu Koshy, a 42-year-old archaeologist made his first trip to a desolate mesa located in the south-Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. A bird’s eye view of an online map showed a rumpled terrain, very similar to a spot nearby that Jinu had helped excavate. Now, that archaeological dig had happened more than a decade ago. But it had unwrapped some of south India’s oldest rock art. Rock art on the walls of cave shelters. Basically, prime studio pads for prehistoric man. And so, since the landscapes bore close resemblances, Jinu was kind of sure that this site too could have housed doodling hunter gatherers.

The landscape was a geological crumb cake.  It was a tableland bristling with a garrison of boulders, rocks and pebbles. For archaeologist Jinu Koshy every step was an ankle twist, an accidental shuffle dance.

At some point in the trek, echoes of bleating goats boomeranged. Jinu had come closer to a ravine. He stood at the nibbled edge of this chasm, spying rock shelters.

Early last year, the 42-year-old archaeologist made his first trip to this desolate mesa. The upland was located in the south-Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

A bird’s eye view of an online map showed a rumpled terrain, very similar to a spot nearby that Jinu had helped excavate. That archaeological dig had happened more than a decade ago and had unwrapped some of south India’s oldest rock art on the walls of cave shelters — prime studio pads for prehistoric man. Since the landscapes bore close resemblances, Jinu was sure that this site too could have housed doodling hunter gatherers.

On his debut march across this tableland, Jinu climbed up and down ravines, combing craggy cave walls for ancient art but the Chennai-based archaeologist was left twiddling his thumbs.



Ravines in a mesa located in Andhra Pradesh.
Archaeologist Jinu Koshy sits at the lip of a valley.
The landscape up the mesa bristled with rocks and pebbles.

Rock shelters.
Kangaroo-like drawings?