INDIA.Thar Desert, Rajasthan: An international team of researchers has unearthed a ‘lost” river that once flowed through the central Thar Desert near Bikaner, Rajasthan.
It is believed that the river flowed through the desert 172 thousand years ago near present-day Bikaner. Researchers have concluded that this river may have been a life-line to the early human settlements in the region. These findings have been published in the journal ‘Quaternary Science Reviews’.
Research and analysis of the river
Several researchers from different institutes were a part of the project. From India, Anna University (Chennai) and the Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research(IISER) Kolkata were involved in the project. Researchers from Germany’s Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History(MPI-SSH) were also a part of the project. In 2014 and 2019, they studied the deposits of river sands and gravels exposed by the quarrying activities by the people near Nal village, near Bikaner. They used luminescence dating as the principal method of research.
Using this method, researchers have calculated the age at which the grains of quartz in river sands were last exposed to light. Their calculations push back the previous evidence of the flowing of the river in Thar by 80 thousand years.
Link with the Saraswati river
Researchers also predate the dried-up course of the Ghaggar-Hakra River. This river system was one of the tributaries to the ancient Saraswati River. Interestingly, the Saraswati river was once thought to be a mythical river. Modern satellite images and many geological pieces of evidence have found the track of this river.
Saraswati river is mentioned many times in ancient Sanatan Dharm scriptures like Vedas, Ramayan and Mahabharata. More researches are needed before concluding that if this river was once tributary to Saraswati river.
The newly found river would have been a life-line to Paleolithic populations. The time-frame over which this river
was active also overlaps with the migration of Homo-sapiens (modern humans) out of Africa.
In a statement, a researcher from MPI-SSH Jimbob Blinkhorn said, “The Thar Desert has a rich prehistory, and we’ve been uncovering a wide range of evidence showing how Stone Age populations not only survived but 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,” Blinkhorn said.