Researchers have found the evidence of a “lost” river that ran through the central Thar Desert, near Bikaner, as early as 172 thousand years ago, and may have been a life-line to human populations enabling them to inhabit the region. Also Read - Coronavirus Lockdown: Schools in These States Won’t Open Till Year-end | Complete List Here

The findings, published in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews, represent the oldest directly dated phase of river activity at Nal Quarry in the central Thar Desert. Also Read - Lockdown Extended Till December 31: This State Imposes Total Shutdown in COVID Hotspots, Clamps Night Curfew in 12 Districts | Read Details

The study by researchers from The Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany, Anna University in Tamil Nadu, and IISER Kolkata indicates that Stone Age populations lived in a distinctly different Thar Desert landscape than we encounter today. Also Read - Three Dead, Six Injured as Bus Catches Fire After Touching High-tension Wire in Jaipur

This evidence indicates a river flowed with phases of activity dating to approximately up to 172 thousand years ago, nearby to Bikaner, Rajasthan, which is over 200 kilometres away from the nearest modern river.

These findings predate evidence for activity in modern river courses across the Thar Desert as well as dried up course of the Ghaggar-Hakra River, the researchers said. The presence of a river running through the central Thar Desert would have offered a life-line to Paleolithic populations, and potentially an important corridor for migrations, they said.

Studies of satellite imagery have shown a dense network of river channels crossing the Thar Desert, according to the researchers.

“These studies can indicate where rivers and streams have flowed in the past, but they can’t tell us when,” explained Professor Hema Achyuthan of Anna University.

“To demonstrate how old such channels are, we had to find evidence on the ground for river activity in the middle of the desert,” Achyuthan said.

The team studied a deep deposit of river sands and gravels, which had been exposed by quarrying activity near the village of Nal. The researchers were able to document different phases of river activity by studying the different deposits.