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S.B. Ota of the Bhopal circle of the survey, assisted by M. Joseph, D.K. Khamari, O.B. Khobragade, K.K. Rai, N.Shrivastava, R. Thakur, C. Bhanarkar, S.S. Bisht and A. Sinha excavated in the Rock Shelter no. ASI-28, at Bhimbetka ( Lat 22? 56' 05" N; Long 77? 36' 41" E ), in District Raisen. Excavation lay out includes two sub spots, namely: in side the tunnel and beneath the projecting ledge. Inside the tunnel two squares designated A1 and XA1 of 1 Sq m area located about 6 m inside the mouth of the tunnel, were taken up for excavation. The two squares were further subdivided into grids of 25 cm sizes. In the square A1 only 12 grids instead of 16 ordinarily possible could be laid down as it was partially occupied on the north by the rock surface of the tunnel. Besides this spot excavation was undertaken underneath the huge ledge to obtain better information of the site. Herein excavations were carried out in C8, C9, C10, D8, D9, D10, E8, E9, E10 squares each of 1 Sq m. The squares in the line of 8 numbers were partially being occupied by the facing of rock wall on the west. The purpose of the excavation is four fold, viz :

  • To ascertain the periods of human activity on the basis of artifactual remains at this site.
  • To look into the possibilities of demarcating intra site differences of human activities.
  • To recover materials for dating and environmental reconstruction.
  • To understand the site forming processes.

During the period under report excavations were carried out from Level 1 to Level 51 inside the tunnel. The average general depth from the ambient surface to the lowest level (Level 51) is 80 cm. On the other hand in all the 9 squares beneath the ledge Levels 1 to Level 11 were excavated averaging a depth of nearly 18 cm. Both the spots of the site at the levels comparable (1 to11) have provided several similarities and dissimilarities, as expected. Broadly the similarities are: the presence of historical potsherds, bangle pieces besides evidence of lime wash and charcoal found in both the spots at upper levels and increasing numbers of microliths in the lower levels with some stray potsherds. On the other hand the dissimilarities broadly include the presence of larger number of microliths in the squares D10, E9 and E10 whereas evidence of open hearth, and larger number of potsherds and charcoal was found in the squares of C and D series. The presence of much larger number of stone in D10 square and much lesser numbers in other squares is may be indicative of environmental factor. Whereas inside the tunnel it has been noticed that although the number of the pebble stones vary considerably across different levels vertically but horizontally these do not vary much. Further unlike outside, the angularity of the stones herein at the levels available for comparison is lesser.

Stratigraphically, the levels could be clubbed into 3 layers on the basis of conspicuous difference in sedimentation in square XA1 & A1. It has been noted that the stone chips of exfoliation are present in large amount in Levels 1 to 17 and enumerated as Layer 1. It is having a pale brown colour with Munsell notation 10YR 6/3 and brown colour 10 YR 4/3 in dry and wet conditions respectively. Layer 2, is marked by the very less number of stones between Level nos. 18 to 28. The soil is having a pale brown colour with Munsell notation 10 YR 6/3 and brown colour 10 YR 4/3 in dry and wet conditions, respectively. Layer 3 is marked by larger number of rock chips as earlier and outlined as between Levels 29 to 39. Its colour is brown. The Munsell notation is 10 YR 5/3 and 10 YR 4/3 for dry and wet condition respectively. Layer 4 is marked by much larger number of stones and is also different from other layers by the greater size of stones it contains within. The colour of this layer is yellowish brown with Munsell notation 10 YR 5/4 and dark yellowish brown 10 YR 4/4 for dry and wet condition, respectively. The excavation is continuing further deeper in the same layer up to the period under report.

Inside the tunnel from the bottom of the excavated levels in Layer 4 the evidence of human activity is noticed in the form of scrapers, notched flakes and debitage mostly in quartzite and hard sandstone. Occasionally broken nodules of chalcedony have been noticed. In Layer 3, the transition to chalcedony has been made as understood by the presence of debitage of chalcedony. However the presence of quartzite is marked by the presence of flakes. Layer 2, has the presence of microliths in chalcedony. Blades, triangles, crescents have been obtained from this layer. Artifacts in quartzite and sandstone were not found. In Layer 1 also the microliths were found up to Level 8 and in the upper levels. These were accompanied by fragmentary potsherds. Bangle pieces of the polychrome type indicate continuity of human activity up to the medieval period.