The term “megalithic” generally brings to mind stone circles in the British Isles such as Stonehenge and Avebury, or giant tombs such as Wayland’s Smithy, yet prehistoric peoples in many parts of the world erected megalithic monuments.
India is rich in megalithic sites. In Cherrapunji, Meghalaya, India, are some imposing menhirs, or standing stones, shown in the Wikimedia Commons image above. In the Mahabubnagar district of Andhra Pradesh is a site with more than 80 menhirs, some 14 feet tall, plus numerous smaller stones. Some rows of stones are aligned to the rising and setting Sun on the summer and winter solstices and equinoxes. Also at the site is a map of the constellation Ursa Major (the Big Dipper, which points to the all-important North Star).
Now a new megalithic site has been discovered. Road construction in Chatra district, Jharkhand, has revealed numerous tall menhirs. Artifacts found at the site, such as a small copper ring and copper bell, date to the Chalcolithic (“Copper Age”) or 3300-1200 BC, although this has been disputed and officially the Archaeological Survey of India is dating the site to the 7th century AD.
Sadly the road work destroyed several stones, and others have been removed by local villagers. Now archaeologists are trying to educate the locals about the importance of such sites. The researchers are also hoping for an excavation license to figure out just how old the megaliths are.
For more on India’s ancient past, check out this extensive website on megalithic India.