Baku. 3 October. REPORT.AZ/ The discovery of rock carvings believed to be tens of thousands of years old in India's western state of Maharashtra has greatly excited archaeologists who believe they hold clues to a previously unknown civilisation, Report informs citing BBC.
Mostly discovered in the Ratnagiri and Rajapur areas, a majority of the images etched on the rocky, flat hilltops remained unnoticed for thousands of years.
Most of them were hidden beneath layers of soil and mud. But a few were in the open - these were considered holy and worshipped by locals in some areas.
The sheer variety of the rock carvings have stunned experts - animals, birds, human figures and geometrical designs are all depicted.
The way the petroglyphs have been drawn, and their similarity to those found in other parts of the world, have led experts to believe that they were created in prehistoric times and are possibly among the oldest ever discovered.
"Our first deduction from examining these petroglyphs is that they were created around 10,000BC," the director of the Maharashtra state archaeology department, Tejas Garge said.
Mr Garge says the images appear to have been created by a hunter-gatherer community which was not familiar with agriculture.
"Most of the petroglyphs show familiar animals. There are images of sharks and whales as well as amphibians like turtles," Mr Garge adds.
But this begs the question of why some of the petroglyphs depict animals like hippos and rhinoceroses which aren't found in this part of India. Did the people who created them migrate to India from Africa? Or were these animals once found in India?
The state government has set aside a fund of 240 million rupees ($3.2m; £2.5m) to further study 400 of the identified petroglyphs.