Soanian is NOT Lower Palaeolithic

Indian Stone Age

Question 4: Soanian is NOT Lower Palaeolithic

 

The Soanian has been considered the Indian representative of the “Chopper Chopping” tool tradition, found in NW Indian Sub-Continent and contemporary with the Acheulian found in Peninsular India.  It is based on fieldwork done in the 1930’s by de Terra and Paterson along with some observations of Teillard de Chardin and is named after the Soan River in Pakistan.  At the time when the concepts of the Soanian (de Terra and Paterson 1939) and the Movius line Movius (1944).  were formulated no absolute dating methods were available and global correlations were made on the basis of correlation to “Ice Ages” of global extent.  Our understanding of human evolution, the Lower Palaeolithic and Quaternary Climate have undergone a number of revolutions in the intervening ~70 years, but these publications still have a throttle hold on Asian Palaeolithic.  My own 35 years of involvement in this issue also encompasses many stages of response.

 

After what I learned about Soanian during my MA days, I never really gave it much thought as I worked entirely in Peninsular India.  During the 1980’s Allchin and then Dennell and Rendell’s re-investigation in the Soan area of Pakistan led to them totally rejecting the validity of Soanian as an archaeological entity (Dennell and Rendell 1991).  Also in the 1980’s Acheulian began to be found in the sub-Himalayan region—this included Mohapatra and Singh 1979, 1981, Mohapatra 1981, Rennell and Dennell 1985 Kumar & Rishi 1986, Mohapatra 1987, 1990, Corvinus 1995, 2006).  Mohapatra clearly stated that the Acheulian was found only in the “frontal range” while the Soanian was found in the Dun Valleys and river terraces.

 

In 1997 I was lucky enough to visit sites in the Dang Deokhuri Dun valley of Nepal with Dr. Corvinus and Dr. Rajaguru.  Corvinus fully recognized that the Dun valley fills belonged to the Late Pleistocene and Holocene and so never even considered them in relation to “Soanian”.  She was already comparing them to the Late Pleistocene and Holocene flake and core industries of SE Asia.  However I realized that if indeed the Soanian was from Dun sediments in India, then it was actually the same entity.  Mohapatra’s “Frontal Range” was the area where Siwalik sediments were exposed. In writing a review paper with Gaillard in 1998 ( Gaillard & Mishra 2001) we re-read all the “Soanian” papers and it became crystal clear that Soanian and Acheulian were found in areas which exposed sediments of different ages.  For me this was enough and it was clear that the Soanian and Acheulian just don’t belong to the same time.  Acheulian is found where Pinjore sediments or re-worked Pinjore sediments are found and Soanian where younger sediments are found.  At once a confusing issue that “didn’t make sense” became one that “did make sense”

 

The main problem for some people to accept this has been a different view about the relationship of the artefacts (which are almost all from the surface, both Soanian and Acheulian) and the underlying sediments.  This is the reason Mohapatra interprets his observations as implying Acheulian and Soanian populations belonging to different ecozones rather than from different times.  The lack of Acheulian from insitu contexts is probably the reason the Pinjore sediments are not considered to be contemporary to the Acheulian.

 

Reasoned consideration of the evidence for surface artefacts however removes these doubts.  I have spent lots of time trying to understand not only why artefacts occur where they do but also why they are found in only certain contexts (Mishra 1982, 1986, 1988).  My fundamental observation (using the approach of examining the actual archaeological record) is that Lower Palaeolithic tools almost NEVER occur on the surface.  There should be many.  Each artefact discarded in the past did get discarded on the “surface”.  Palaeolithic man did not bury them!  However artefacts that did not get buried by some process have NOT survived.  This is because the time span since the Lower Palaeolithic is so long that even imperceptible (to us) processes acting over such time spans are very destructive.  On the other hand burial limits the time span over which weathering and other surface processes operate which leads to a chance of survival.  Slow processes operating over long time spans are totally destructive while fast processes leading to burial act over a limited span and are ultimately less destructive.  Thus Lower Palaeolithic artefacts found of the surface today are almost always recently exposed by ongoing erosion and should belong to the underlying sediments.  Obviously when sediments of different ages are present a number of possibilities for the original artefact context can be suggested.  Truly surface artefacts have to date to AFTER the surface came into being by erosion.  This surface in the Siwalik hills, undergoing rapid erosion today would be very young.  It is inconceivable that it dates to “Acheulian” times.  Thus I consider Acheulian artefacts lying of the surface of the Pinjore sediments to be derived from them, and not date to after the exposure of the surface.

 

The other issue is to actually better define the technology of the young core and flake assemblages in the sub-Himalayan zone.  Terms like chopper chopping and “mode 1” are extremely vague and misleading.  Excavated and well studied assemblages are all shown to be more complex and entities although sometimes hard to define, certainly not equivalent to “mode 1”.  We really need to go beyond the presence/absence of handaxes in comparing assemblages.  In an earlier post I have introduced the concept of complete versis fragmented chaine operatoires as being a fundamental difference between the Acheulian and the Oldowan.  Probably all stone tool technologies after the Oldowan have fragmented chaine operatoires.  Are some further contrasts to be found?  We must look…

 

The scattered and isolated nature of the Acheulian artefacts are probably another reason for doubts about the presence of Acheulian in the Pinjores.  However because Acheulian people carried finished tools isolated occurrences of finished tools are actual typical.  However because of the diagnostic features of such highly curated tools a single tools is powerfully convincing.  It’s a tool and it is Acheulian.

 

 

de Terra, H., and T. T. Paterson. 1939. Studies on the Ice Age in India and Associated Human Cultures. Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Institution.

Dennell, R. W., and H. N. Rendell. 1991. deTerra and Paterson and the Soan Flake Industry: a New Perspective from the Soan Valley, North Pakistan. Man and Environment 16: 91-100.

Gaillard, C., and S. Mishra. 2001. “The Lower Palaeolithic in South Asia,” in Origin of Settlements and Chronology of the Paleolithic Cultures in SE Asia. Edited by F. Semah, C. Falgueres, D. Grimaund-Herve, and A.-M. Semah, pp. 73-92. Semenanjuang and Paris.

Kumar, M., and K. K. Rishi. 1986. Acheulian elements from Hoshiharpur Region (Punjab). Man and Environment 10:141-142.

Mishra, S. 1982. On the Effects of Basalt Weathering on the Distribution of Lower Palaeolithic Sites in the Deccan. Bulletin of the Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Institute 41:107-115.

—. 1986. Archaeological Assemblages and Basalt Weathering : a Re-evaluation of the Nevasian. Man and Environment 10:91-96.

Mishra, S., A. A. Kshirsagar, and S. N. Rajaguru. 1988. “Relative Dating of the Quaternary Record from Upland Western Maharashtra,” in National Seminar on Recent Quaternary Studies in India. Edited by M. P. Patel and N. Desai, pp. 269-278. Baroda: M.S.University.

Mohapatra, G. C. 1981. Acheulian Discoveries in the Siwalik Frontal Range Current Anthropology 22:433-435.

—. 1990a. Acheulian Element in Soan Culture Area. Journal of the Archaeological Society of Nippon XL:4-17.

—. 1990b. Soanian-Acheulian Relationship Bulletin of the Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Institute 49:251-260.

Mohapatra, G. C., and M. Singh. 1979a. Prehistoric Investigations in a Sub-Himalayan Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India. Current Anthropology 20:600-602.

—. 1979b. Stratified Occurrence of Lithic Artifacts in the Siwalik frontal Range Of Western Sub-Himalaya. Research Bulletin of the Punjab University 10:65-77.

—. 1981. Acheulian Discoveries in the Siwalik Frontal Range of Western Sub-Himalayas. Punjab University Research Bulletin 10:65-77.

Movius, H. L. 1948. The Lower Palaeolithic Cultures of Southern and Eastern Asia. Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, New Series:330-420.

Movius, H. L. J. 1944. Early Man Pleistocene Stratigraphy in Southern and Eastern Asia. . Peabody Museum Paper 19.

Rendell, H., and R. W. Dennell. 1985. Dated Lower Palaeolithic Artefacts from Northern Pakistan. Current Anthropology 26 393.

 

 

 

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11 Responses to Soanian is NOT Lower Palaeolithic

  1. Rajaguru, S.N. says:

    Comment

    S.N. Rajaguru, Retd Professor, Deccan College, Pune
    My observations on stratigraphical aspect of palaeolithic cultures preserved in Quaternary sediments of fluvial, colluvial, fluvio-lacustral and Aeolian origin in parts of Upland Maharashta, Central Madhya Pradesh, Saurashtra Peninsula and western Rajasthan-Thar Desert suggest following points on the context of stone age sites.
    1. At Nevasa in Pravara valley Lower Palaeolithic artefacts preserved in colluvio-flvial sediments of Early-Middle Pleistocene Age are disconformably capped by fluvial sediments with microliths of Late Pleistocene age 9(~16 ka BP). This observation is based on the assumption that Nevasian artefacts (previously labeled as Series III/Middle Stone Age) are part and parce of Acheulian cultural tradition only.
    2. At Bori in Kukdi valley, Morgaon in Karha Valey in the Bhima Basin, Lower Palaeolithic artefact bearing fluvial deposits are disconformably covered by microlith bearing fluvial deposits of Late Pleistocene age (~26ka-11ka BP). In these valleys, typical Middle Palaeolithic bearing deposits have not been observed.
    3. By and large in Upland Western Maharashtra Lower Palaeolithic artefact bearing deposits ranging in age from Early Pleistocene to Late Middle Pleistocene are normally capped by microlithic bearing deposits of Late Pleistocene (~35 ka BP -11 ka BP) with clear disconformity
    4. In Saurashtra peninsula, Lower Palaeolithic artefact bearing colluvio-alluvial deposits are found to be capped by “Miliolite Formation” dated to around 190 ka BP by Th-U series method. These middle Pleistocene deposits are disconformably capped by fluvial deposits containing Middle Palaeolithic artefacts and capped by “Miliolite formation” of the Lateage (~45 to 50 ka BP).
    5. At Didwana, on the eastern margin of the Thar desert Lower Palaeolithic (~ 200 ka BP) by luminescence method of dating are disconformably overlain by Aeolian deposits containing Middle Palaeolithic artefacts and dated to around 100 ka BP by Luminescence Method
    6. In Central Narmada Valley at Samnapur in Narsingpur District, Middle Palaeolithic artefact bearing fluvial deposits of the Late Pleistocene age are underlain by Lower Palaeolithic artefact bearing deposits of fluvial origin.
    In general stratigraphic data suggest existence of Lower and Middle Palaeolithic sites in parts of western and central India where these cultural phases are found to pass into Upper /Late Palaeolithic cultural phase of Terminal Pleistocene age.
    As I am not a specialist in typology of palaeolithic artefacts I cannot comment on terminological aspect of Lower and Middle Palaeolithic cultures in areas where I have worked as a specialist in Quaternary Geology and Geomorphology.

  2. Pradeep K. Behera says:

    Dear Sir,
    While occurrences of disconformities in the sedimentological depositional processes in the Quaternary period of the central and/or the western belt of India cannot be dismissed and require intensive investigation, how can we explain the typo-technological variabilities/missing links across much of the parts of the Peninsular Indian Palaeolithic industries by dismissing the very existence of the evolutionary/devolutionary processes very much active in the region under consideration.
    Occurrences of microlithic components in the Pleistocene/Holocene lithic industries in the sub-Continent may also be interpreted in several other ways.
    However, the examples cited by Prof.Mishra relate to only the western regions of India, which may not be valid across the sub-Continent.
    P.K.Behera

  3. Bishnupriya Basak says:

    Sheila, your argument about the Soanian is absolutely convincing, I have nothing more to add here.

  4. prof. Ranjana ray says:

    Sheila, Your observation on the Soaninan is much detailed and is quite in depth. It is quite true that De Terra and Paterson’s earlier work still stands out strongly because of the fact that there is no text book for the general student of prehistory to go through the latest findings on Soanian.
    Soanian and Acheulian has long since been under the cross fire of argument at various congregations of scientists. The major problem lies in our study of Acheulian culture is lack of absolute date. So far we have some scattered dates from Eastern India (Banshadhara river gravel Toba ash), From Pune (your own work) and Potwar’s date by Dennell and Rendell).
    I had the opportunity of studying some of the Soan materials of the original De Terra-Paterson collection in the prehistory laboratory of Calcutta University. Without going into the context of occurrence of the tools it may be said that nature of raw material played an important role in the typology of the tools. As far my experience goes in the field, which I had the good fortune of doing in the company of Professor G. C. Mohapatra, it struck me. The area is extremely rich in pebbles of various shape and size. Palaeolithic man had enough scope of selecting a pebble which may produce a suitable cutting edge with minimum expenditure of energy. It appeared that mostly flat pebbles were selected, which with the removal of flake scars from the sloping surface to wards the flat surface produced a working edge. This type of tools have given rise to the idea of protohandaxe. If you take the shape and working edge they are not much different from the handaxes excepting that there is no flaking done on the flat surface. This type of proto handaxe is very common even among the collection of Bosei in China.

    Firstly there is a need for clarification of the term Acheulian, whether it is to considered as a culture or a technique, specially in the context of South Asia. Controlled multidirectional Acheulian technique is very much observed in the Soanian tools.

    The Acheulian element found from the eastern India (Ghosh, 1970; Bose and Sen, 1948) and my own field work in the region did not of course reveal much that can be compared with the Soanian element. Although Ghosh named the element as “Pebble-core”, obviously being aware of the problem with nomenclature considering the technology and typology of cultural elements.
    In my opinion, nature of raw material, necessity of the makers, their capability and the environment played an important role in the make up of the culture of a particular region. People living in the Dun area and adjacent places made their livelihood accordingly. Soanian tools are best example of the selective capability of men in response to his need.

    RAY RANJANA and A. K. GHOSH, 1981 Position of Palaeolithic culture in North India . Field conference on Neogene/Quaternary Boundary in India 1979: Proceedings (ed). M.V.A. Sastry, T.K. Kurien, A.K. Ghosh, S. Biswas, 1981, Calcutta: Geological Survey of India, pp. 143-150.

  5. Response to ‘Soanian NOT Early Palaeolithic’ Q-4.
    Early Soan has never been recognized as a discrete entity either typologically or chronologically, and the time span of the occurrence of the so called ‘late Soan’ is also yet unknown. Due to the constraint of raw material, the same tool-types appear to have continued in the sub-Himalayas till late mid-Holocene with the emergence of new tool types in the later stages. With reference to Suresh et al (2002); Gaillard et al (2010) write that late Soan is dated to between >57 ka and 20 ka in the Sirsa valley However, it is submitted that Suresh et al (2002) have dated only the uppermost surface of Luhund Khad fan to 20ka and the date 57ka is the date of a sample taken by them from the bottom of cliff of the same accumulated fan sediment. No tool-bearing dated surface between 57ka &20 ka BP has ever been reported. Rather, a lithic assemblage dated to 10cm (Soni & Soni, 2009 fig.2). Edge-ground flaked stone tools are known from the uppermost stage of the Hoabinhian up to mid-Holocene times from Southeast Asia (Anderson, 1990, Marwick, 2007, 2008; Reynolds, 1992) and Assam (Sankalia, 1974, pp: 285-297). Edge-ground flakes are known to exist even up to 1000BC or so in Southeast Asia (Bellwood, 2007; Marwick, 2007). EG lithic specimens and weathered wheel made potsherds were present throughout the depth of the trench, justifying a mono-cultural character to the assemblage. One ceramic piece resembling Harappan pottery was recovered from excavation and one was got OSL dated from WIHG Dehradun to around 4.7 ka BP (more results are awaited). We (as yet) assume that during the mid-Holocene aridity (Possehl 1997; Madella and Fuller 2006; Gupta et al, 2006; Staubwasser & Weiss 2006; MacDonald, 2009) this site was occupied and subsequently abandoned by the Hominines. It is observed that the lithic specimens and potsherds below ~20cm depth of the trench were heavily stained with CaCO3 deposit and in upper thin layer of the soil; they show no such salt deposit (therefore justifying their creep-deposit during an arid phase). There are thus three reasons due to which we assign a mid-Holocene time bracket to this assemblage; (1) The presence of a large number of edge-ground specimens known from the late phases of the Hoabinhian of S.E. Asia, (2) presence of at least 2 Harappan potsherds in the excavated material and the mid-Holocene date of one of the potsherds, (3) Signs of the mid-Holocene arid phase having affected the assemblage. There appears no justification for any argument that there could be a time difference of hundreds or a few thousand years between the lithic assemblage and coming of the pottery using hominines at this site. If lithic specimens resembling the so called Soanian can be found in the post-Urban site of Bara, the wheel-made/Harappan potsherds at Jandori-6 should be acceptable as contemporaneous to the lithic assemblage there at. The presence of such a large number of edge-ground flakes (and a few core tools) is of course intriguing and in my knowledge, nowhere such a large number of EG flakes have ever been found. It could be an intrusion of prehistoric Southeast Asian culture or a parallel development can not be said as yet. (More detailed work on this site being communicated elsewhere).
    3. Nangal-Barmala assemblage
    This site complex exists on a low lying terrace (left bank of Satluj near Nangal-Punjab) dated to 6.25kaBP (Soni et al, 2008) which have yielded large assemblage of flakes, flake-tools cobble-tools, cores and core fragments varying from small to very large sizes. Choppers (n=27) have size up to18cm and there are many large cortical flakes possessing long utilized cutting edges. These tools invariably have an unretouched distal cutting edge set transversely to its long axis. There are many flat faced rectangular cutting tools with transversal cutting edges and some having triangular to pentagonal shapes (like the ones known to have existed from late Pleistocene to Early Holocene reported by Gaillard et, al, 2010) also exist in this mid-Holocene site. Pitted cobbles (Soni et al, 2008 fig.2d) found on this terrace and many on the next higher terrace (having almost similar lithic assemblage along with some Neolithic elements) are a new find from this young terrace and have also been found from half a dozen other sites. Such pitted-cobbles are mostly known from early to mid-Holocene sites of California (True & Baumhoff, 1985; Richard & Terry, 1999). Apart from large cutting tools on flakes; utilized flakes, scrapers, borers, tanged flakes, backed knives and very few points and blades are also present there. Potsherds are seen where ever the concentration of lithic specimens is large and they are usually ill-burnt, and occasionally Black & Red Ware pieces are also found (details with new dates being communicated elsewhere).
    4. A note on dates of some earlier known ‘Late-Soan’ assemblages.
    ‘Late Soan’ stage was assigned to the assemblages from the sites in Sirsa valley or Pinjaur Dun by Mohapatra (1974), Karir (1985) and Sen (1955) and then Mohapatra & Singh (1979) considered lithic collections from Chikni (H.P.) sites also as ‘Late Soanian’ of third glacial or inter-glacial stages of de-Terra and Paterson (1939). Now when geomorphology and chronology of the Pinjaur Dun fans has been studied in detail by scientists of WIHG Dehradun (Suresh et, al., 2007), we come to understand that these sires lie on alluvial fans whose upper surfaces have been dated to 20ka and the next lower terraces are of younger age (Suresh et al, 2007). The Neolithic elements or Harappan ceramics were also noted by the earlier workers as lying on those surfaces (Mohapatra and Singh, 1979, Prufar, 1955), but were not believed to be contemporaneous to the Soanian tools found along with. Now, in light of the new findings from dated surfaces and the contemporaneous context of pebble-tools and ceramics (points1-3), we have to reconsider the whole scenario.
    5. Concluding remarks.
    Though the raw material of quartzite cobbles was available in the sub-Himalayas since around 400kaBP, and man present in this region could have been exploiting it since then; whether there was any ‘Early Soan’ stage in prehistory, we do not know with surety. Human population increased only during the Holocene and these were water borne quartzite cobbles that were accessible to man to make tools from early-Holocene to mid or late mid-Holocene times. The stone tools fabricated on quartzite increased as the time passed till the coming of metal age. It is because of that we find vast spreads of lithic tools in the sub-Himalayan region (Alchin & Alchin, 1998, p: 51). So most of the rich assemblage sites we usually encounter in the sub-Himalayas belong to the Holocene epoch, with ceramics appearing in middle to lade mid-Holocene times.
    A viewpoint: During the short span of Harappan period the communities living in remote places could not have easy assess to metal and the locally available stone could have been freely used for making tools. The extended periods of droughts at ca 5000-4000 cal yrs BP (see 1&2 above) might be wholly or partly responsible for general eastward and northeast ward migrations (especially to the places where water was still available and at nearly half a dozen places, we have also found the signs of ‘Palaeo-dams’ or ‘Palaeo-ponds’). The long distance trade diminished as there was all round decadence of the material culture. People lost assess to metal and the only alternative was stone for which solid evidence has come from Bara and Jandori-6 (see 1, 2& 3 above). In the absence of metal, they could also have laid their hands on some earlier used stone tools found on some places en-route. Not only Harappans but some other societal communities also seem to have converged to the sub-Himalayan water courses as is indicated by the presence of edge-ground elements, B&RW potsherds and pitted-cobbles etc (more details being communicated elsewhere).
    Agrawal, D. P. & S. Kusumgar. 1973. Tata Institute Radiocarbon Dates. Radiocarbon 15: 574-85.
    Agrawal, D. P. & S. Kusumgar. 1975. Radiocarbon dates of Neolithic-Chalcolithic samples. Current Science 44: 298-300.
    Allchin, B. & R. Allchin. 1988. The rise of civilization in India and Pakistan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    Anderson, D. D. 1990. Lang Rongian Rockshelter: A Pleistocene-Early Holocene Archaeological Site from Krabi, Southwestern Thailand. Pennsylvania: University Museum Monograph, University of Pennsylvania.
    Bellwood, P. 2007. Prehistory of Indo-Malaysian Archipelago. Canberra: The Australian University Press.
    De Terra, H. & Paterson, T. T. 1939. Studies on the Ice Age in India and Associated Human Cultures. Washington D C: Carnegie Institute Publication 493,
    Gaillard, C., M. Singh, A.D. Malassé. Late Pleistocene To Early Holocene Lithic Industries In The Southern
    Fringes Of The Himalaya, Quaternary International (2010), doi: 10.1016/j.quaint.2010.06.023
    Karir, B.S. 1985. Geomorphology and Stone Age Culture of Northwestern India. Delhi: Sundeep Prakashan.
    Gupta, A.K., D.M.Anderson, D. D. Pandey, A. K. Singhvi. 2006.Adaptation and human migration, and evidence of agriculture coincident with changes in the summer monsoon during the Holocene. Curr. Sc., 90,1082-1090.
    MacDonald, G.2009. Potential influence of the Indian summer monsoon and Harappan decline. Quaternary International,2009, doi:1016/j.quant.2009.11.012.
    Mohapatra, G. C., and M. Singh. 1979. Prehistoric Investigations in a Sub-Himalayan Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India. Current Anthropology 20:600-602.
    Mohapatra, G. C. 1974. Lithic Industries of Himachal Pradesh, in A. K. Ghosh (ed.) Perspectives in Palaeoanthropology: 199-212. Calcutta: K. L. Mukhopadhyay.
    Marwick, B. 2007. Approach to Flaked Stone Artefact Archaeology in Thailand: A Historical Review. Silpakorn University International Journal 7: 49-88.
    Possehl, G. L. 1997. The Transformation of the Indus civilization. Journal of World Prehistory 11, 425- 72.
    Prufer, Olaf. 1956. Prehistory of Sirsa valley, Punjab, India. Quartar, 7/8: 91-123.
    Reynolds, T. E. G. 1992. Excavations at Banyan Valley Cave, Northern Thailand: A Report on the 1972 Season. Asian Perspectives, 31(1), 76-97.
    Sankalia, H.D.1974. Prehistory and Protohistory of India & Pakistan. Pune: Deccan College.
    Sen, D. 1955. Nalagarh Palaeolithic culture. Man in India. 35 (3): 176-183.
    Sharma, Y.D. 1981. Cultural Contours of India, in V.S. Srivastva (ed.) Dr. Satya Prakash Felicitation Volume: 17-20. New Delhi: Abhinav Publications.
    Soni, A. S., V. S. Soni. 2005. Palaeolithic tools from the surface of optically stimulated luminescence dated alluvial fan deposits of Pinjaur Dun in NW sub-Himalayas. Curr. Sc., 88, 867-871.
    Soni, A. S., V. S. Soni & D.S. Dhillon. 2008. Large assemblages of flakes & cores found on dated young terraces of River Satluj and its tributaries. Current Science 94: 577- 80.
    Soni A. S. & V. S. Soni. 2009a. A flake-rich assemblage in buried state and in primary context in the NW sub-Himalayas. Current Science 96: 1130-33.
    Staubwasser, M. & H. Weiss. 2006. Holocene climate and cultural evolution in the late prehistoric-early historic West Asia. Quaternary Research 66: 372-87.
    Suresh, N., T. N. Bagati, V. C. Thakur, Rohtesh Kumar, S. J. Sangode, 2002, Curr. Sci., 82, 1267–1274
    Suresh, N., T. N. Bagati, V. C. Thakur, Rohtesh Kumar, V. C. Thakur. 2007. Evolution of Quarternary alluvial fans and terraces in the intramontane Pinjaur Dun, Sub-Himalaya, NW India: interaction between tectonics and climate change.2007. Sedimentology, 54, 808-833.

  6. Response to ‘Soanian NOT Early Palaeolithic’ Q-4. (the above response was incompletely set, I don’t know why. See this one is complete)
    Early Soan has never been recognized as a discrete entity either typologically or chronologically, and the time span of the occurrence of the so called ‘late Soan’ is also yet unknown. Due to the constraint of raw material, the same tool-types appear to have continued in the sub-Himalayas till late mid-Holocene with the emergence of new tool types in the later stages. With reference to Suresh et al (2002); Gaillard et al (2010) write that late Soan is dated to between >57 ka and 20 ka in the Sirsa valley However, it is submitted that Suresh et al (2002) have dated only the uppermost surface of Luhund Khad fan to 20ka and the date 57ka is the date of a sample taken by them from the bottom of cliff of the same accumulated fan sediment. No tool-bearing dated surface between 57ka &20 ka BP has ever been reported. Rather, a lithic assemblage dated to 10cm (Soni & Soni, 2009 fig.2). Edge-ground flaked stone tools are known from the uppermost stage of the Hoabinhian up to mid-Holocene times from Southeast Asia (Anderson, 1990, Marwick, 2007, 2008; Reynolds, 1992) and Assam (Sankalia, 1974, pp: 285-297). Edge-ground flakes are known to exist even up to 1000BC or so in Southeast Asia (Bellwood, 2007; Marwick, 2007). EG lithic specimens and weathered wheel made potsherds were present throughout the depth of the trench, justifying a mono-cultural character to the assemblage. One ceramic piece resembling Harappan pottery was recovered from excavation and one was got OSL dated from WIHG Dehradun to around 4.7 ka BP (more results are awaited). We (as yet) assume that during the mid-Holocene aridity (Possehl 1997; Madella and Fuller 2006; Gupta et al, 2006; Staubwasser & Weiss 2006; MacDonald, 2009) this site was occupied and subsequently abandoned by the Hominines. It is observed that the lithic specimens and potsherds below ~20cm depth of the trench were heavily stained with CaCO3 deposit and in upper thin layer of the soil; they show no such salt deposit (therefore justifying their creep-deposit during an arid phase). There are thus three reasons due to which we assign a mid-Holocene time bracket to this assemblage; (1) The presence of a large number of edge-ground specimens known from the late phases of the Hoabinhian of S.E. Asia, (2) presence of at least 2 Harappan potsherds in the excavated material and the mid-Holocene date of one of the potsherds, (3) Signs of the mid-Holocene arid phase having affected the assemblage. There appears no justification for any argument that there could be a time difference of hundreds or a few thousand years between the lithic assemblage and coming of the pottery using hominines at this site. If lithic specimens resembling the so called Soanian can be found in the post-Urban site of Bara, the wheel-made/Harappan potsherds at Jandori-6 should be acceptable as contemporaneous to the lithic assemblage there at. The presence of such a large number of edge-ground flakes (and a few core tools) is of course intriguing and in my knowledge, nowhere such a large number of EG flakes have ever been found. It could be an intrusion of prehistoric Southeast Asian culture or a parallel development can not be said as yet. (More detailed work on this site being communicated elsewhere).
    3. Nangal-Barmala assemblage
    This site complex exists on a low lying terrace (left bank of Satluj near Nangal-Punjab) dated to 6.25kaBP (Soni et al, 2008) which have yielded large assemblage of flakes, flake-tools cobble-tools, cores and core fragments varying from small to very large sizes. Choppers (n=27) have size up to18cm and there are many large cortical flakes possessing long utilized cutting edges. These tools invariably have an unretouched distal cutting edge set transversely to its long axis. There are many flat faced rectangular cutting tools with transversal cutting edges and some having triangular to pentagonal shapes (like the ones known to have existed from late Pleistocene to Early Holocene reported by Gaillard et, al, 2010) also exist in this mid-Holocene site. Pitted cobbles (Soni et al, 2008 fig.2d) found on this terrace and many on the next higher terrace (having almost similar lithic assemblage along with some Neolithic elements) are a new find from this young terrace and have also been found from half a dozen other sites. Such pitted-cobbles are mostly known from early to mid-Holocene sites of California (True & Baumhoff, 1985; Richard & Terry, 1999). Apart from large cutting tools on flakes; utilized flakes, scrapers, borers, tanged flakes, backed knives and very few points and blades are also present there. Potsherds are seen where ever the concentration of lithic specimens is large and they are usually ill-burnt, and occasionally Black & Red Ware pieces are also found (details with new dates being communicated elsewhere).
    4. A note on dates of some earlier known ‘Late-Soan’ assemblages.
    ‘Late Soan’ stage was assigned to the assemblages from the sites in Sirsa valley or Pinjaur Dun by Mohapatra (1974), Karir (1985) and Sen (1955) and then Mohapatra & Singh (1979) considered lithic collections from Chikni (H.P.) sites also as ‘Late Soanian’ of third glacial or inter-glacial stages of de-Terra and Paterson (1939). Now when geomorphology and chronology of the Pinjaur Dun fans has been studied in detail by scientists of WIHG Dehradun (Suresh et, al., 2007), we come to understand that these sires lie on alluvial fans whose upper surfaces have been dated to 20ka and the next lower terraces are of younger age (Suresh et al, 2007). The Neolithic elements or Harappan ceramics were also noted by the earlier workers as lying on those surfaces (Mohapatra and Singh, 1979, Prufar, 1955), but were not believed to be contemporaneous to the Soanian tools found along with. Now, in light of the new findings from dated surfaces and the contemporaneous context of pebble-tools and ceramics (points1-3), we have to reconsider the whole scenario.
    5. Concluding remarks.
    Though the raw material of quartzite cobbles was available in the sub-Himalayas since around 400kaBP, and man present in this region could have been exploiting it since then; whether there was any ‘Early Soan’ stage in prehistory, we do not know with surety. Human population increased only during the Holocene and these were water borne quartzite cobbles that were accessible to man to make tools from early-Holocene to mid or late mid-Holocene times. The stone tools fabricated on quartzite increased as the time passed till the coming of metal age. It is because of that we find vast spreads of lithic tools in the sub-Himalayan region (Alchin & Alchin, 1998, p: 51). So most of the rich assemblage sites we usually encounter in the sub-Himalayas belong to the Holocene epoch, with ceramics appearing in middle to lade mid-Holocene times.
    A viewpoint: During the short span of Harappan period the communities living in remote places could not have easy assess to metal and the locally available stone could have been freely used for making tools. The extended periods of droughts at ca 5000-4000 cal yrs BP (see 1&2 above) might be wholly or partly responsible for general eastward and northeast ward migrations (especially to the places where water was still available and at nearly half a dozen places, we have also found the signs of ‘Palaeo-dams’ or ‘Palaeo-ponds’). The long distance trade diminished as there was all round decadence of the material culture. People lost assess to metal and the only alternative was stone for which solid evidence has come from Bara and Jandori-6 (see 1, 2& 3 above). In the absence of metal, they could also have laid their hands on some earlier used stone tools found on some places en-route. Not only Harappans but some other societal communities also seem to have converged to the sub-Himalayan water courses as is indicated by the presence of edge-ground elements, B&RW potsherds and pitted-cobbles etc (more details being communicated elsewhere).
    Agrawal, D. P. & S. Kusumgar. 1973. Tata Institute Radiocarbon Dates. Radiocarbon 15: 574-85.
    Agrawal, D. P. & S. Kusumgar. 1975. Radiocarbon dates of Neolithic-Chalcolithic samples. Current Science 44: 298-300.
    Allchin, B. & R. Allchin. 1988. The rise of civilization in India and Pakistan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    Anderson, D. D. 1990. Lang Rongian Rockshelter: A Pleistocene-Early Holocene Archaeological Site from Krabi, Southwestern Thailand. Pennsylvania: University Museum Monograph, University of Pennsylvania.
    Bellwood, P. 2007. Prehistory of Indo-Malaysian Archipelago. Canberra: The Australian University Press.
    De Terra, H. & Paterson, T. T. 1939. Studies on the Ice Age in India and Associated Human Cultures. Washington D C: Carnegie Institute Publication 493,
    Gaillard, C., M. Singh, A.D. Malassé. Late Pleistocene To Early Holocene Lithic Industries In The Southern
    Fringes Of The Himalaya, Quaternary International (2010), doi: 10.1016/j.quaint.2010.06.023
    Karir, B.S. 1985. Geomorphology and Stone Age Culture of Northwestern India. Delhi: Sundeep Prakashan.
    Gupta, A.K., D.M.Anderson, D. D. Pandey, A. K. Singhvi. 2006.Adaptation and human migration, and evidence of agriculture coincident with changes in the summer monsoon during the Holocene. Curr. Sc., 90,1082-1090.
    MacDonald, G.2009. Potential influence of the Indian summer monsoon and Harappan decline. Quaternary International,2009, doi:1016/j.quant.2009.11.012.
    Mohapatra, G. C., and M. Singh. 1979. Prehistoric Investigations in a Sub-Himalayan Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India. Current Anthropology 20:600-602.
    Mohapatra, G. C. 1974. Lithic Industries of Himachal Pradesh, in A. K. Ghosh (ed.) Perspectives in Palaeoanthropology: 199-212. Calcutta: K. L. Mukhopadhyay.
    Marwick, B. 2007. Approach to Flaked Stone Artefact Archaeology in Thailand: A Historical Review. Silpakorn University International Journal 7: 49-88.
    Possehl, G. L. 1997. The Transformation of the Indus civilization. Journal of World Prehistory 11, 425- 72.
    Prufer, Olaf. 1956. Prehistory of Sirsa valley, Punjab, India. Quartar, 7/8: 91-123.
    Reynolds, T. E. G. 1992. Excavations at Banyan Valley Cave, Northern Thailand: A Report on the 1972 Season. Asian Perspectives, 31(1), 76-97.
    Sankalia, H.D.1974. Prehistory and Protohistory of India & Pakistan. Pune: Deccan College.
    Sen, D. 1955. Nalagarh Palaeolithic culture. Man in India. 35 (3): 176-183.
    Sharma, Y.D. 1981. Cultural Contours of India, in V.S. Srivastva (ed.) Dr. Satya Prakash Felicitation Volume: 17-20. New Delhi: Abhinav Publications.
    Soni, A. S., V. S. Soni. 2005. Palaeolithic tools from the surface of optically stimulated luminescence dated alluvial fan deposits of Pinjaur Dun in NW sub-Himalayas. Curr. Sc., 88, 867-871.
    Soni, A. S., V. S. Soni & D.S. Dhillon. 2008. Large assemblages of flakes & cores found on dated young terraces of River Satluj and its tributaries. Current Science 94: 577- 80.
    Soni A. S. & V. S. Soni. 2009a. A flake-rich assemblage in buried state and in primary context in the NW sub-Himalayas. Current Science 96: 1130-33.
    Staubwasser, M. & H. Weiss. 2006. Holocene climate and cultural evolution in the late prehistoric-early historic West Asia. Quaternary Research 66: 372-87.
    Suresh, N., T. N. Bagati, V. C. Thakur, Rohtesh Kumar, S. J. Sangode, 2002, Curr. Sci., 82, 1267–1274
    Suresh, N., T. N. Bagati, V. C. Thakur, Rohtesh Kumar, V. C. Thakur. 2007. Evolution of Quarternary alluvial fans and terraces in the intramontane Pinjaur Dun, Sub-Himalaya, NW India: interaction between tectonics and climate change.2007. Sedimentology, 54, 808-833.

  7. Response to ‘Soanian NOT Early Palaeolithic’ Q-4. (I DON’T KNOW WHY INCOMPLETE RESPONSE GOES TO THE BLOG. SEE THIS)—-
    Early Soan has never been recognized as a discrete entity either typologically or chronologically, and the time span of the occurrence of the so called ‘late Soan’ is also yet unknown. Due to the constraint of raw material, the same tool-types appear to have continued in the sub-Himalayas till late mid-Holocene with the emergence of new tool types in the later stages. With reference to Suresh et al (2002); Gaillard et al (2010) write that late Soan is dated to between >57 ka and 20 ka in the Sirsa valley However, it is submitted that Suresh et al (2002) have dated only the uppermost surface of Luhund Khad fan to 20ka and the date 57ka is the date of a sample taken by them from the bottom of cliff of the same accumulated fan sediment. No tool-bearing dated surface between 57ka &20 ka BP has ever been reported. Rather, a lithic assemblage dated to 10cm (Soni & Soni, 2009 fig.2). Edge-ground flaked stone tools are known from the uppermost stage of the Hoabinhian up to mid-Holocene times from Southeast Asia (Anderson, 1990, Marwick, 2007, 2008; Reynolds, 1992) and Assam (Sankalia, 1974, pp: 285-297). Edge-ground flakes are known to exist even up to 1000BC or so in Southeast Asia (Bellwood, 2007; Marwick, 2007). EG lithic specimens and weathered wheel made potsherds were present throughout the depth of the trench, justifying a mono-cultural character to the assemblage. One ceramic piece resembling Harappan pottery was recovered from excavation and one was got OSL dated from WIHG Dehradun to around 4.7 ka BP (more results are awaited). We (as yet) assume that during the mid-Holocene aridity (Possehl 1997; Madella and Fuller 2006; Gupta et al, 2006; Staubwasser & Weiss 2006; MacDonald, 2009) this site was occupied and subsequently abandoned by the Hominines. It is observed that the lithic specimens and potsherds below ~20cm depth of the trench were heavily stained with CaCO3 deposit and in upper thin layer of the soil; they show no such salt deposit (therefore justifying their creep-deposit during an arid phase). There are thus three reasons due to which we assign a mid-Holocene time bracket to this assemblage; (1) The presence of a large number of edge-ground specimens known from the late phases of the Hoabinhian of S.E. Asia, (2) presence of at least 2 Harappan potsherds in the excavated material and the mid-Holocene date of one of the potsherds, (3) Signs of the mid-Holocene arid phase having affected the assemblage. There appears no justification for any argument that there could be a time difference of hundreds or a few thousand years between the lithic assemblage and coming of the pottery using hominines at this site. If lithic specimens resembling the so called Soanian can be found in the post-Urban site of Bara, the wheel-made/Harappan potsherds at Jandori-6 should be acceptable as contemporaneous to the lithic assemblage there at. The presence of such a large number of edge-ground flakes (and a few core tools) is of course intriguing and in my knowledge, nowhere such a large number of EG flakes have ever been found. It could be an intrusion of prehistoric Southeast Asian culture or a parallel development can not be said as yet. (More detailed work on this site being communicated elsewhere).
    3. Nangal-Barmala assemblage
    This site complex exists on a low lying terrace (left bank of Satluj near Nangal-Punjab) dated to 6.25kaBP (Soni et al, 2008) which have yielded large assemblage of flakes, flake-tools cobble-tools, cores and core fragments varying from small to very large sizes. Choppers (n=27) have size up to18cm and there are many large cortical flakes possessing long utilized cutting edges. These tools invariably have an unretouched distal cutting edge set transversely to its long axis. There are many flat faced rectangular cutting tools with transversal cutting edges and some having triangular to pentagonal shapes (like the ones known to have existed from late Pleistocene to Early Holocene reported by Gaillard et, al, 2010) also exist in this mid-Holocene site. Pitted cobbles (Soni et al, 2008 fig.2d) found on this terrace and many on the next higher terrace (having almost similar lithic assemblage along with some Neolithic elements) are a new find from this young terrace and have also been found from half a dozen other sites. Such pitted-cobbles are mostly known from early to mid-Holocene sites of California (True & Baumhoff, 1985; Richard & Terry, 1999). Apart from large cutting tools on flakes; utilized flakes, scrapers, borers, tanged flakes, backed knives and very few points and blades are also present there. Potsherds are seen where ever the concentration of lithic specimens is large and they are usually ill-burnt, and occasionally Black & Red Ware pieces are also found (details with new dates being communicated elsewhere).
    4. A note on dates of some earlier known ‘Late-Soan’ assemblages.
    ‘Late Soan’ stage was assigned to the assemblages from the sites in Sirsa valley or Pinjaur Dun by Mohapatra (1974), Karir (1985) and Sen (1955) and then Mohapatra & Singh (1979) considered lithic collections from Chikni (H.P.) sites also as ‘Late Soanian’ of third glacial or inter-glacial stages of de-Terra and Paterson (1939). Now when geomorphology and chronology of the Pinjaur Dun fans has been studied in detail by scientists of WIHG Dehradun (Suresh et, al., 2007), we come to understand that these sires lie on alluvial fans whose upper surfaces have been dated to 20ka and the next lower terraces are of younger age (Suresh et al, 2007). The Neolithic elements or Harappan ceramics were also noted by the earlier workers as lying on those surfaces (Mohapatra and Singh, 1979, Prufar, 1955), but were not believed to be contemporaneous to the Soanian tools found along with. Now, in light of the new findings from dated surfaces and the contemporaneous context of pebble-tools and ceramics (points1-3), we have to reconsider the whole scenario.
    5. Concluding remarks.
    Though the raw material of quartzite cobbles was available in the sub-Himalayas since around 400kaBP, and man present in this region could have been exploiting it since then; whether there was any ‘Early Soan’ stage in prehistory, we do not know with surety. Human population increased only during the Holocene and these were water borne quartzite cobbles that were accessible to man to make tools from early-Holocene to mid or late mid-Holocene times. The stone tools fabricated on quartzite increased as the time passed till the coming of metal age. It is because of that we find vast spreads of lithic tools in the sub-Himalayan region (Alchin & Alchin, 1998, p: 51). So most of the rich assemblage sites we usually encounter in the sub-Himalayas belong to the Holocene epoch, with ceramics appearing in middle to lade mid-Holocene times.
    A viewpoint: During the short span of Harappan period the communities living in remote places could not have easy assess to metal and the locally available stone could have been freely used for making tools. The extended periods of droughts at ca 5000-4000 cal yrs BP (see 1&2 above) might be wholly or partly responsible for general eastward and northeast ward migrations (especially to the places where water was still available and at nearly half a dozen places, we have also found the signs of ‘Palaeo-dams’ or ‘Palaeo-ponds’). The long distance trade diminished as there was all round decadence of the material culture. People lost assess to metal and the only alternative was stone for which solid evidence has come from Bara and Jandori-6 (see 1, 2& 3 above). In the absence of metal, they could also have laid their hands on some earlier used stone tools found on some places en-route. Not only Harappans but some other societal communities also seem to have converged to the sub-Himalayan water courses as is indicated by the presence of edge-ground elements, B&RW potsherds and pitted-cobbles etc (more details being communicated elsewhere).
    Agrawal, D. P. & S. Kusumgar. 1973. Tata Institute Radiocarbon Dates. Radiocarbon 15: 574-85.
    Agrawal, D. P. & S. Kusumgar. 1975. Radiocarbon dates of Neolithic-Chalcolithic samples. Current Science 44: 298-300.
    Allchin, B. & R. Allchin. 1988. The rise of civilization in India and Pakistan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    Anderson, D. D. 1990. Lang Rongian Rockshelter: A Pleistocene-Early Holocene Archaeological Site from Krabi, Southwestern Thailand. Pennsylvania: University Museum Monograph, University of Pennsylvania.
    Bellwood, P. 2007. Prehistory of Indo-Malaysian Archipelago. Canberra: The Australian University Press.
    De Terra, H. & Paterson, T. T. 1939. Studies on the Ice Age in India and Associated Human Cultures. Washington D C: Carnegie Institute Publication 493,
    Gaillard, C., M. Singh, A.D. Malassé. Late Pleistocene To Early Holocene Lithic Industries In The Southern
    Fringes Of The Himalaya, Quaternary International (2010), doi: 10.1016/j.quaint.2010.06.023
    Karir, B.S. 1985. Geomorphology and Stone Age Culture of Northwestern India. Delhi: Sundeep Prakashan.
    Gupta, A.K., D.M.Anderson, D. D. Pandey, A. K. Singhvi. 2006.Adaptation and human migration, and evidence of agriculture coincident with changes in the summer monsoon during the Holocene. Curr. Sc., 90,1082-1090.
    MacDonald, G.2009. Potential influence of the Indian summer monsoon and Harappan decline. Quaternary International,2009, doi:1016/j.quant.2009.11.012.
    Mohapatra, G. C., and M. Singh. 1979. Prehistoric Investigations in a Sub-Himalayan Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India. Current Anthropology 20:600-602.
    Mohapatra, G. C. 1974. Lithic Industries of Himachal Pradesh, in A. K. Ghosh (ed.) Perspectives in Palaeoanthropology: 199-212. Calcutta: K. L. Mukhopadhyay.
    Marwick, B. 2007. Approach to Flaked Stone Artefact Archaeology in Thailand: A Historical Review. Silpakorn University International Journal 7: 49-88.
    Possehl, G. L. 1997. The Transformation of the Indus civilization. Journal of World Prehistory 11, 425- 72.
    Prufer, Olaf. 1956. Prehistory of Sirsa valley, Punjab, India. Quartar, 7/8: 91-123.
    Reynolds, T. E. G. 1992. Excavations at Banyan Valley Cave, Northern Thailand: A Report on the 1972 Season. Asian Perspectives, 31(1), 76-97.
    Sankalia, H.D.1974. Prehistory and Protohistory of India & Pakistan. Pune: Deccan College.
    Sen, D. 1955. Nalagarh Palaeolithic culture. Man in India. 35 (3): 176-183.
    Sharma, Y.D. 1981. Cultural Contours of India, in V.S. Srivastva (ed.) Dr. Satya Prakash Felicitation Volume: 17-20. New Delhi: Abhinav Publications.
    Soni, A. S., V. S. Soni. 2005. Palaeolithic tools from the surface of optically stimulated luminescence dated alluvial fan deposits of Pinjaur Dun in NW sub-Himalayas. Curr. Sc., 88, 867-871.
    Soni, A. S., V. S. Soni & D.S. Dhillon. 2008. Large assemblages of flakes & cores found on dated young terraces of River Satluj and its tributaries. Current Science 94: 577- 80.
    Soni A. S. & V. S. Soni. 2009a. A flake-rich assemblage in buried state and in primary context in the NW sub-Himalayas. Current Science 96: 1130-33.
    Staubwasser, M. & H. Weiss. 2006. Holocene climate and cultural evolution in the late prehistoric-early historic West Asia. Quaternary Research 66: 372-87.
    Suresh, N., T. N. Bagati, V. C. Thakur, Rohtesh Kumar, S. J. Sangode, 2002, Curr. Sci., 82, 1267–1274
    Suresh, N., T. N. Bagati, V. C. Thakur, Rohtesh Kumar, V. C. Thakur. 2007. Evolution of Quarternary alluvial fans and terraces in the intramontane Pinjaur Dun, Sub-Himalaya, NW India: interaction between tectonics and climate change.2007. Sedimentology, 54, 808-833.

  8. THe last 2 responses in my name are incompletely put, how I dont know. Several lines in No.1 & 2 are wrongly spelt & rest are missing after” — Rather, a lithic assemblage dated to… next is wrong or missing. I have sent my complete & correct Response to indiastoneage2010@gmail.com. Please see that or the organizers put that one here & delete No.6&7 which have several line missing.
    V.S.Soni

  9. Response to ‘Soanian NOT Early Palaeolithic’ Q-4. (The above responses 7& 8 are taken wrongly by the blog-mixed up some points & changed, I don’t know why. I put it now in Georgia, see if it is posted faithfully)
    Early Soan has never been recognized as a discrete entity either typologically or chronologically, and the time span of the occurrence of the so called ‘late Soan’ is also yet unknown. Due to the constraint of raw material, the same tool-types appear to have continued in the sub-Himalayas till late mid-Holocene with the emergence of new tool types in the later stages. With reference to Suresh et al (2002); Gaillard et al (2010) write that late Soan is dated to between >57 ka and 20 ka in the Sirsa valley However, it is submitted that Suresh et al (2002) have dated only the uppermost surface of Luhund Khad fan to 20ka and the date 57ka is the date of a sample taken by them from the bottom of cliff of the same accumulated fan sediment. No tool-bearing dated surface between 57ka &20 ka BP has ever been reported. Rather, a lithic assemblage dated to 10cm (Soni & Soni, 2009 fig.2). Edge-ground flaked stone tools are known from the uppermost stage of the Hoabinhian up to mid-Holocene times from Southeast Asia (Anderson, 1990, Marwick, 2007, 2008; Reynolds, 1992) and Assam (Sankalia, 1974, pp: 285-297). Edge-ground flakes are known to exist even up to 1000BC or so in Southeast Asia (Bellwood, 2007; Marwick, 2007). EG lithic specimens and weathered wheel made potsherds were present throughout the depth of the trench, justifying a mono-cultural character to the assemblage. One ceramic piece resembling Harappan pottery was recovered from excavation and one was got OSL dated from WIHG Dehradun to around 4.7 ka BP (more results are awaited). We (as yet) assume that during the mid-Holocene aridity (Possehl 1997; Madella and Fuller 2006; Gupta et al, 2006; Staubwasser & Weiss 2006; MacDonald, 2009) this site was occupied and subsequently abandoned by the Hominines. It is observed that the lithic specimens and potsherds below ~20cm depth of the trench were heavily stained with CaCO3 deposit and in upper thin layer of the soil; they show no such salt deposit (therefore justifying their creep-deposit during an arid phase). There are thus three reasons due to which we assign a mid-Holocene time bracket to this assemblage; (1) The presence of a large number of edge-ground specimens known from the late phases of the Hoabinhian of S.E. Asia, (2) presence of at least 2 Harappan potsherds in the excavated material and the mid-Holocene date of one of the potsherds, (3) Signs of the mid-Holocene arid phase having affected the assemblage. There appears no justification for any argument that there could be a time difference of hundreds or a few thousand years between the lithic assemblage and coming of the pottery using hominines at this site. If lithic specimens resembling the so called Soanian can be found in the post-Urban site of Bara, the wheel-made/Harappan potsherds at Jandori-6 should be acceptable as contemporaneous to the lithic assemblage there at. The presence of such a large number of edge-ground flakes (and a few core tools) is of course intriguing and in my knowledge, nowhere such a large number of EG flakes have ever been found. It could be an intrusion of prehistoric Southeast Asian culture or a parallel development can not be said as yet. (More detailed work on this site being communicated elsewhere).
    3. Nangal-Barmala assemblage
    This site complex exists on a low lying terrace (left bank of Satluj near Nangal-Punjab) dated to 6.25kaBP (Soni et al, 2008) which have yielded large assemblage of flakes, flake-tools cobble-tools, cores and core fragments varying from small to very large sizes. Choppers (n=27) have size up to18cm and there are many large cortical flakes possessing long utilized cutting edges. These tools invariably have an unretouched distal cutting edge set transversely to its long axis. There are many flat faced rectangular cutting tools with transversal cutting edges and some having triangular to pentagonal shapes (like the ones known to have existed from late Pleistocene to Early Holocene reported by Gaillard et, al, 2010) also exist in this mid-Holocene site. Pitted cobbles (Soni et al, 2008 fig.2d) found on this terrace and many on the next higher terrace (having almost similar lithic assemblage along with some Neolithic elements) are a new find from this young terrace and have also been found from half a dozen other sites. Such pitted-cobbles are mostly known from early to mid-Holocene sites of California (True & Baumhoff, 1985; Richard & Terry, 1999). Apart from large cutting tools on flakes; utilized flakes, scrapers, borers, tanged flakes, backed knives and very few points and blades are also present there. Potsherds are seen where ever the concentration of lithic specimens is large and they are usually ill-burnt, and occasionally Black & Red Ware pieces are also found (details with new dates being communicated elsewhere).
    4. A note on dates of some earlier known ‘Late-Soan’ assemblages.
    ‘Late Soan’ stage was assigned to the assemblages from the sites in Sirsa valley or Pinjaur Dun by Mohapatra (1974), Karir (1985) and Sen (1955) and then Mohapatra & Singh (1979) considered lithic collections from Chikni (H.P.) sites also as ‘Late Soanian’ of third glacial or inter-glacial stages of de-Terra and Paterson (1939). Now when geomorphology and chronology of the Pinjaur Dun fans has been studied in detail by scientists of WIHG Dehradun (Suresh et, al., 2007), we come to understand that these sires lie on alluvial fans whose upper surfaces have been dated to 20ka and the next lower terraces are of younger age (Suresh et al, 2007). The Neolithic elements or Harappan ceramics were also noted by the earlier workers as lying on those surfaces (Mohapatra and Singh, 1979, Prufar, 1955), but were not believed to be contemporaneous to the Soanian tools found along with. Now, in light of the new findings from dated surfaces and the contemporaneous context of pebble-tools and ceramics (points1-3), we have to reconsider the whole scenario.
    5. Concluding remarks.
    Though the raw material of quartzite cobbles was available in the sub-Himalayas since around 400kaBP, and man present in this region could have been exploiting it since then; whether there was any ‘Early Soan’ stage in prehistory, we do not know with surety. Human population increased only during the Holocene and these were water borne quartzite cobbles that were accessible to man to make tools from early-Holocene to mid or late mid-Holocene times. The stone tools fabricated on quartzite increased as the time passed till the coming of metal age. It is because of that we find vast spreads of lithic tools in the sub-Himalayan region (Alchin & Alchin, 1998, p: 51). So most of the rich assemblage sites we usually encounter in the sub-Himalayas belong to the Holocene epoch, with ceramics appearing in middle to lade mid-Holocene times.
    A viewpoint: During the short span of Harappan period the communities living in remote places could not have easy assess to metal and the locally available stone could have been freely used for making tools. The extended periods of droughts at ca 5000-4000 cal yrs BP (see 1&2 above) might be wholly or partly responsible for general eastward and northeast ward migrations (especially to the places where water was still available and at nearly half a dozen places, we have also found the signs of ‘Palaeo-dams’ or ‘Palaeo-ponds’). The long distance trade diminished as there was all round decadence of the material culture. People lost assess to metal and the only alternative was stone for which solid evidence has come from Bara and Jandori-6 (see 1, 2& 3 above). In the absence of metal, they could also have laid their hands on some earlier used stone tools found on some places en-route. Not only Harappans but some other societal communities also seem to have converged to the sub-Himalayan water courses as is indicated by the presence of edge-ground elements, B&RW potsherds and pitted-cobbles etc (more details being communicated elsewhere).
    Agrawal, D. P. & S. Kusumgar. 1973. Tata Institute Radiocarbon Dates. Radiocarbon 15: 574-85.
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    Anderson, D. D. 1990. Lang Rongian Rockshelter: A Pleistocene-Early Holocene Archaeological Site from Krabi, Southwestern Thailand. Pennsylvania: University Museum Monograph, University of Pennsylvania.
    Bellwood, P. 2007. Prehistory of Indo-Malaysian Archipelago. Canberra: The Australian University Press.
    De Terra, H. & Paterson, T. T. 1939. Studies on the Ice Age in India and Associated Human Cultures. Washington D C: Carnegie Institute Publication 493,
    Gaillard, C., M. Singh, A.D. Malassé. Late Pleistocene To Early Holocene Lithic Industries In The Southern
    Fringes Of The Himalaya, Quaternary International (2010), doi: 10.1016/j.quaint.2010.06.023
    Karir, B.S. 1985. Geomorphology and Stone Age Culture of Northwestern India. Delhi: Sundeep Prakashan.
    Gupta, A.K., D.M.Anderson, D. D. Pandey, A. K. Singhvi. 2006.Adaptation and human migration, and evidence of agriculture coincident with changes in the summer monsoon during the Holocene. Curr. Sc., 90,1082-1090.
    MacDonald, G.2009. Potential influence of the Indian summer monsoon and Harappan decline. Quaternary International,2009, doi:1016/j.quant.2009.11.012.
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    Mohapatra, G. C. 1974. Lithic Industries of Himachal Pradesh, in A. K. Ghosh (ed.) Perspectives in Palaeoanthropology: 199-212. Calcutta: K. L. Mukhopadhyay.
    Marwick, B. 2007. Approach to Flaked Stone Artefact Archaeology in Thailand: A Historical Review. Silpakorn University International Journal 7: 49-88.
    Possehl, G. L. 1997. The Transformation of the Indus civilization. Journal of World Prehistory 11, 425- 72.
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    Sankalia, H.D.1974. Prehistory and Protohistory of India & Pakistan. Pune: Deccan College.
    Sen, D. 1955. Nalagarh Palaeolithic culture. Man in India. 35 (3): 176-183.
    Sharma, Y.D. 1981. Cultural Contours of India, in V.S. Srivastva (ed.) Dr. Satya Prakash Felicitation Volume: 17-20. New Delhi: Abhinav Publications.
    Soni, A. S., V. S. Soni. 2005. Palaeolithic tools from the surface of optically stimulated luminescence dated alluvial fan deposits of Pinjaur Dun in NW sub-Himalayas. Curr. Sc., 88, 867-871.
    Soni, A. S., V. S. Soni & D.S. Dhillon. 2008. Large assemblages of flakes & cores found on dated young terraces of River Satluj and its tributaries. Current Science 94: 577- 80.
    Soni A. S. & V. S. Soni. 2009a. A flake-rich assemblage in buried state and in primary context in the NW sub-Himalayas. Current Science 96: 1130-33.
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  10. (IN ALL THE ABOVE RESPONSES BY ME, THE BLOG HAS MISSED A LARGE PORTION, I DON’T KNOW WHY. AFTER THE WORDING ‘Rather, a lithic–IT HAS MISSED 46 LINES. SORRY FOR INCONVENIENCE CAUSED BY THE BLOG. NOW I PUT BELOW ALONG WITH THE MISSING PART, COMPLETE SECTIONS 1 & 2 ONLY WHICH WERE NOT PROPERLY PICKED UP BY THE BLOG).
    –Rather, a lithic assemblage dated to 10cm (Soni & Soni, 2009 fig.2). Edge-ground flaked stone tools are known from the uppermost stage of the Hoabinhian up to mid-Holocene times from Southeast Asia (Anderson, 1990, Marwick, 2007, 2008; Reynolds, 1992) and Assam (Sankalia, 1974, pp: 285-297). Edge-ground flakes are known to exist even up to 1000BC or so in Southeast Asia (Bellwood, 2007; Marwick, 2007). EG lithic specimens and weathered wheel made potsherds were present throughout the depth of the trench, justifying a mono-cultural character to the assemblage. One ceramic piece resembling Harappan pottery was recovered from excavation and one was got OSL dated from WIHG Dehradun to around 4.7 ka BP (more results are awaited). We (as yet) assume that during the mid-Holocene aridity (Possehl 1997; Madella and Fuller 2006; Gupta et al, 2006; Staubwasser & Weiss 2006; MacDonald, 2009) this site was occupied and subsequently abandoned by the Hominines. It is observed that the lithic specimens and potsherds below ~20cm depth of the trench were heavily stained with CaCO3 deposit and in upper thin layer of the soil; they show no such salt deposit (therefore justifying their creep-deposit during an arid phase). There are thus three reasons due to which we assign a mid-Holocene time bracket to this assemblage; (1) The presence of a large number of edge-ground specimens known from the late phases of the Hoabinhian of S.E. Asia, (2) presence of at least 2 Harappan potsherds in the excavated material and the mid-Holocene date of one of the potsherds, (3) Signs of the mid-Holocene arid phase having affected the assemblage. There appears no justification for any argument that there could be a time difference of hundreds or a few thousand years between the lithic assemblage and coming of the pottery using hominines at this site. If lithic specimens resembling the so called Soanian can be found in the post-Urban site of Bara, the wheel-made/Harappan potsherds at Jandori-6 should be acceptable as contemporaneous to the lithic assemblage there at. The presence of such a large number of edge-ground flakes (and a few core tools) is of course intriguing and in my knowledge, nowhere such a large number of EG flakes have ever been found. It could be an intrusion of prehistoric Southeast Asian culture or a parallel development can not be said as yet. (More detailed work on this site being communicated elsewhere).

  11. The Blog has again MISSED ALL THAT. I try again to write the missing part:
    –I refer to Sheila Mishra’s observation (para-5 of Question-4 in her blog), “Truly surface artefacts have to date to AFTER the surface came into being by erosion”. So when we find totally unrolled and fresh artefacts from the young terrace sites, they can not be older than the layer of soil within or on which they are found (specially, if none is found in the underlying old stratum). In support of this argument, I also quote from Alchin & Alchin (2003, p:25) written in a similar context, “The Upper Palaeolithic artefacts it contains are less heavily rolled,…and therefore probably NOT DERIVED FROM SITES UPSTREAM OR FROM SITES DISTANT FROM THE PRESENT RIVER COURSE, but more likely dropped near the river where perhaps they were also made”. This context is relevant to the views presented in the foregoing paragraph and also to MANY of our recently found assemblages
    In the back drop of whatever is known about the Siwalik Stone Age and its chronology, I give here a brief account of some of the MANY rich assemblage sites discovered by us from the northwestern Indian sub-Himalayas during this decade.
    1. Stone tools from Bara
    Bara (in Punjab plains near Ropar) is a well known late-Harappan site (Aggarwal and Kusumgar, 1973, 1975) which was excavated twice by Y. D. Sharma (1981). In the year 2007-08, an excavation was again started by Sh. K. C. Nauriyal, the then Superintending archaeologist of Simla. When he invited us to witness the excavation, we found many stone tools including choppers, a point, a backed knife and some utilized flakes from the surface of that mound and handed them over to the excavators. Though the excavation has yet been discontinued, the excavators informed us that they later recovered about 60 more stone artefacts from up to 1m depth which include some choppers, a discoid, an arrowhead and other artefacts fabricated on quartzite raw material (usually found in Late Soan sites). In the earlier excavations (Sharma 1981) the existence of the typical Bara Ware has been described and it is suggested that ‘copper was rare’ in the Bara assemblage, but the stone tools find no mention in that. Pebble-tools resembling the Soanian and seemingly contemporary to the Harappan archaeological material have never been known so far from any site, and this finding deems to tell a different story.
    2. Lithic assemblage of Jandori-6
    This is a site in which a trial trench and just 200m2 area around it have for the first time generated a huge (n=5606) flake-rich lithic assemblage (preliminary report in; Soni & Soni, 2009). This is tectonically disturbed soil fill surface on the left bank of a 5th grade tributary of River Satluj. Total 2102 lithic specimens were recovered from the surface and the rest 3502 came from a single trial trench of area 1.5m2 and 1.8m maximum depth. No lithic specimen was present in the immediately surrounding area of the site where to, the raw material was transported from elsewhere. The assemblage contained about 95% detached pieces which were mostly flakes and flake-tools while among the flaked pieces, there were only 26 choppers (Soni & Soni, 2009). Most peculiar thing was the presence of edge-ground specimens in the whole assemblage in which only 15 are flaked pieces and rest are flakes & flake-tools with 46 out of them having size >10cm (Soni & Soni, 2009 fig.2). —(REST IS CORRECT ON THE BLOG)

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