Ratnagiri’s pre-historic rock art (Barsu-Solgaon area)

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Concern over proposed mega oil refinery in Barsu village, Maharashtra may damage nearby prehistoric geoglyphs.

Ratnagiri’s pre-historic rock art (Barsu-Solgaon area)

  • These are spread across Konkan cost line of Maharashtra and Goa, spanning around 900 km.
  • These sites, situated in the Konkan region, were included in the tentative list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
  • While UNESCO estimates these sites to be around 12,000 years old, several experts date them to be around 20,000 years.
  • It has more than 1500 petroglyphs.
  • Ratnagiri’s prehistoric sites are among three Indian attractions that may soon become World Heritage Sites.
  • The other two include Jingkieng Jri, the living root bridge in Meghalaya, and Sri Veerabhadra Temple in Andhra Pradesh’s Lepakshi.

Imagery in these sites tells

  • It shows how people “adapted to ephemeral wetlands in a dryarid plateau having shallow rock pools, streams and
  • Discovery of geoglyphs has added to ongoing research on human resilience and adaptation to extreme fluctuations in climates.
  • The geoglyph clusters also are examples of advanced artistic skills, showing the evolution of techniques of etching and scooping in rock art.

Figures depicted in the geoglyphs

  • The figures depicted in the geoglyphs include humans and animals such as deer, elephant, tiger, monkey, wild boar, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, cattle, pig, rabbit, and monkey.
  • It also include a high number of reptilian and amphibian creatures such as tortoises and alligators, aquatic animals such as sharks and sting rays, and birds like peacocks.
  • Some clusters have one or two standalone figures of larger-thanlife scale, while others show multiple figures gathered together, seemingly for a purpose.

Significance of Ratnagiri’s prehistoric rock art

  • According to UNESCO, “rock art in India is one of oldest material evidence of the country’s early human creativity.”
  • Ratnagiri’s rock art is evidence of the continued existence of human settlements from the Mesolithic (middle stone age) to the early historic era.
  •  The geoglyphs also show the existence of certain types of fauna that are no longer present in the region today.

What are geoglyphs?

  • Geoglyphs are a form of prehistoric rock art, created on the surface of laterite plateaus (Sada in Marathi).
  • They are made by removing a part of the rock surface through an incision, picking, carving or abrading.
  • They can be in the form of rock paintings, etchings, cup marks and ring marks.


  • The UNESCO listing mentions “Konkan geoglyphs.” However, elsewhere, the term petroglyph (literally, “rock
    symbol/character”) is also used.
  • As per the UNESCO listing, petroglyphs and geoglyphs share similarities as both require the skills of removing parts or engraving a symbol on the rock surface.

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