History is truly fascinating. Every nook and corner in the world has its own stories to tell to every generation. On these lines researchers have recently found evidence of a lost river that flowed in the central Thar desert 1,72,000 years ago near Bikaner in Rajasthan. The research has been published in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews. It indicates the oldest and directly dated phase of river activity at Nar Quarry in the Thar desert. The findings revealed that it used to be the lifeline of people from the Stone Age era.
Researchers from Tamil Nadu’s Anna University have also revealed that Stone Age population lived in a different manner in the Thar Desert. According to the evidence this river lost 1,72,000 years ago and had human activities near it. It lies near Bikaner which is over 200km away from the closest modern river.
Researchers have thrown light on Paleolithic populations that would have used this river as an important corridor for migrations. It could have been their life-line. Jimbob Blinkhorn from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History said that the Thar desert has rich prehistory. We have been uncovering a wide range of evidence showing how Stone Age populations not only survived but also thrived in these semi-arid landscapes. We know how important rivers can be to living in this region but we have little detail on what river systems were like during key periods of prehistory.
Lost river speculations
The satellite images have shown a dense network of river channels crossing the Thar Desert. Studies indicate that rivers and streams flowed here in the past. The research team analysed deposits of river sands and gravels. Evidence indicates that the strongest river activity at Nal took place around 1,40,000 and 1,72,000 years ago. Also the river was flowing at its strongest during a phase of weak monsoonal activity in the region.
Locals speculate that this could be the mythical Saraswati river that scientists have been on the lookout for many years. Several states claim they found records for the tracks of Saraswati river. Till now no one could prove that these are the remains of the river that was lost over 4,000 years ago. Well, now there is a possibility that researchers could find this missing river near Bikaner in the Thar Desert.
This discovery has now brought the researchers to their next step which is to find out from where did the river flow and how old are river channels. To know how old such channels are we need to find evidence on the ground for river activity in the middle of the desert. But the Indira Gandhi Canal sourced from the Sutlej River gives us some insight into what happens when a river flows through the centre of the Thar Desert - plants and wildlife flourish providing ideal conditions for early human populations. Who knows maybe we’re one step closer to tracking the Saraswati river.
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