London, March 29: Archaeologists have unearthed small Stone Age weapons in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal, dating back to around 15,000-20,000 years, which suggests man's presence in the area much earlier than previously believed.
A report by BBC news stated that the artifacts were found during excavations in Murshidabad district, near Bangladesh. According to Dr Gautam Sengupta, director of the State Archaeology Department, the discovery was made by chance. "We were digging the site for some archaeological evidence of the Sultanate period. We were expecting some ancient artefacts related to Sultan Hussein Shah," he said - referring to a former ruler from the area. "We did find those, but our archaeologists kept on digging to unearth some more historical evidence of that period and now we have found these Stone Age weapons," he added.
The weapons - which include small axes - were discovered at Ekani-Chandpara village near Sagardighi, which is an ancient site. According to archaeologists, the weapons were found from a soil layer belonging to the mid-Pleistocene period - much below the Holocene layer where present human habitation takes place.
"We have not only discovered the weapons at this site, but raw materials and the scraps were also found," Dr Gautam Sengupta, director of the State Archaeology Department, told the BBC. "This proves that the weapons were made at this place itself," he added. Another reason why the find is so significant is because Stone Age weapons are not normally found at such an old soil layer in the Gangetic alluvial plains.
However, it is well known that raw materials for making weapons are easily found in the plateau region and most Stone Age discoveries are from this area. So far, no human fossils or remains other than some charcoal have been found at the site.
After winding up the excavation at Ekani Chandpara in a couple of weeks, archaeologists are planning to launch a search for ancient human habitation in a wider area.