Over 10,500 years old camping site discovered in Ladakh

An ancient camping site dating back to 8500 BC has been discovered by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in Jammu and Kashmir's Ladakh region.

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The site was unearthed at 14,000 feet above sea level — on the way to Sasar La which leads to the Karakoram Pass. It suggests that humans camped in the area 10,500 years ago.

As investigations revealed repeated human activity at this camping site for about eight hundred years, archeological survey of india will be carrying out further investigations into the site.

Sources said that the research so far carried out has proved the antiquity and nature of human activities to an extent, but their camping patterns, extent of camping area, tools and other cultural aspects are yet to be traced.

Over 10,500 years old camping site discovered by ASI in Ladakh
An ASI team at the unearthed camping site on the Saser La-Ladakh route. -img Tweeted by @MIB_India

Interestingly, the site was also discovered by chance. Dr SB Ota, joint director deneral in ASI, who was travelling in Ladhak, last year, along the Saser stream. After covering a distance of about 22 km, he noticed a section, exposed due to road construction, showing successive layers comprising burning residue and immediately stopped to explore the area.

The area offered a perfect site for camping. It was a small flat area with snow-covered peaks on one extreme, dry barren land with loose rocks all around and gushing stream within the deep western gorges, an ideal place for camping in a picturesque setting.

A charcoal sample collected from the site, which was sent to Beta Lab, Florida for radiocarbon, dated it back to 8500 BC. Realising the significance of the evidence, a team of ASI officials were sent for further inspection.

“During this visit, more charcoal samples and associated bones were collected. Two of the charcoal samples from lower and upper deposits sent for dating have provided new radiocarbon dates of c. 8500 BC and c. 7300 BC (c. 10500 and 9300 years before present) respectively. These dates have indeed confirmed the earlier date,” the culture ministry official statement said.

Apart from that, new dates also indicate repeated human activity at this camping site for about eight hundred years. Preliminary studies of charred bones collected from here, carried out by Prof P.P. Joglekar of Deccan Collage, Pune, have shown the presence of Gorel and Yak.

ASI has planned to carry out proper archaeological excavations and explorations to address these issues. It added that it would be difficult to carry out the task in such a rugged terrain at an altitude of 14,000 feet, with low oxygen and habitation.

Source: Ministry of Information and Broadcasting

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