Raider of the lost art -- newfound cave-drawings hold pouched secrets

The landscape was a geological crumb cake.  It was a tableland bristling with a garrison of boulders, rocks and pebbles. For archaeologist Jinu Koshy every step was an ankle twist, an accidental shuffle dance.


At some point in the trek, echoes of bleating goats boomeranged. Jinu had come closer to a ravine. He stood at the nibbled edge of this chasm, spying rock shelters.

Early last year, the 42-year-old archaeologist made his first trip to this desolate mesa. The upland was located in the south-Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

A bird’s eye view of an online map showed a rumpled terrain, very similar to a spot nearby that Jinu had helped excavate. That archaeological dig had happened more than a decade ago and had unwrapped some of south India’s oldest rock art on the walls of cave shelters — prime studio pads for prehistoric man. Since the landscapes bore close resemblances, Jinu was sure that this site too could have housed doodling hunter gatherers.

On his debut march across this tableland, Jinu climbed up and down ravines, combing craggy cave walls for ancient art but the Chennai-based archaeologist was left twiddling his thumbs.