Anil Kumar Devara

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Maharaja Sayajirao U. of Baroda

Grant number

Gr. 9990

Approve Date

August 26, 2020

Project Title

Devara, Anil Kumar (Maharaja Sayajirao U. of Baroda) "Archaeological remains from Pre and Post Youngest Toba Tuff deposits, Manneru River basin, Andhra Pradesh"

ANIL DEVARA, then a graduate student at Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Vadodara, India, received funding in August 2020 to aid research on “Archaeological remains from Pre and Post Youngest Toba Tuff deposits, Manneru River basin, Andhra Pradesh,” supervised by Dr. Ajit Prasad. The project aims to construct a chronological and technological framework for the material remains from deposits underlying and overlying the Youngest Toba Tuff (YTT) deposits at Motravulapadu, in the Manneru river basin, Andhra Pradesh, India. Large scale excavations were conducted at the site by excavating six trenches of varying sizes (ranging from 2×2 m to 4.5×3.5 m) in an area of 600x500m. Excavations identified two flake-based horizons: one blade-based horizon, four horizons of microlithic assemblages, and one horizon of animal fossil remains. Optically Stimulated Luminescence ages of these flake and blade-based artefacts and fossil remains range from 60 to 29 ka. YTT beds from the site dated between 33 and 29 ka indicate the beds are of secondary fluvial deposits and highlight the hazards of using YTT as a chronological marker in palaeoenvironmental constructions and understanding modern human dispersals in South Asia. The lithic assemblages and associated OSL ages generated through the current project denote the predominance of Levallois technology in South Asia from 59 to 49 ka and gradual preference towards the blade-based artefact production at 41 ka, which became predominant around 30ka, indicating the blade technology as distinct temporal behaviour. Technologically these blade-based assemblages are different from the Middle Palaeolithic, and microlithic technologies and the presence of such assemblages poses significant questions on the currently understood linear framework of Palaeolithic cultural developments in South Asia. In addition, oxygen and carbon isotopic analysis of animal fossil teeth and soil carbonate indicates a shift towards a drier climate associated with the abundance of C4 plants post 40 ka and connected with the emergence of blade technology. The project successfully generated crucial evidence to understand the MIS 3 archaeological record of South Asia that can throw significant light on the hominin behavioral evolution and dispersals.