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The first directly dated evidence for Palaeolithic occupation on the Indian coast at Sandhav, Kachchh

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Blinkhorn,  James
Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Roberts,  Patrick
Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Blinkhorn, J., Ajithprasad, P., Mukherjee, A., Kumar, P., Durcan, J. A., & Roberts, P. (2019). The first directly dated evidence for Palaeolithic occupation on the Indian coast at Sandhav, Kachchh. Quaternary Science Reviews, 224: 105975. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2019.105975.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0004-D24E-8
Abstract
South Asia has a rich Palaeolithic heritage, and chronological resolution for this record has substantially improved over the past decade as a result of focused, interdisciplinary research at a number of key sites. Expanding the spatial diversity of dated Palaeolithic sites in South Asia grows increasingly important to examine how patterns of change through time vary within and between the region’s diverse habitats. Critically, alternate models of modern human dispersals into South Asia highlight the significance of either coastal or continental routes of dispersal, but currently no coastal Palaeolithic sites directly dating to the timeframe of human expansions are known. Our previous research in Kachchh was the first study to clearly identify the presence of Palaeolithic sites in Late Pleistocene landscapes in close proximity to the Indian Ocean coastline. Here, we present the first results of surface survey and test excavation at the site of Sandhav (Kachchh, India), approximately 25 km from the modern shoreline. We characterise the geomorphology of the landscape, highlighting multiple phases of alluvial aggradation and post-depositional carbonate formation, associated with Palaeolithic artefacts. To date, excavations have tested the uppermost Pleistocene deposit, yielding a small collection of fresh Middle Palaeolithic artefacts associated with a luminescence age dating to the first half of MIS 5 (∼114 ka), which provides a minimum age for Late Acheulean artefacts in underlying units. We discuss our findings in the context of debates surrounding the timing, lithic technologies, and ecologies associated with the expansions of modern humans into South Asia.