First mnemonic device and calendar of man

First calendar was made when man couldn’t count beyond three. More than a hundred thousand years ago a stone tool fixed the date of summer solstice and logged three seasons: Rainy, winter and summer. Man could even divide a fortnight in 2 by the tool.


An ‘irregular stone pestle1 educated me: I was unable to grasp its value and importance for stone-age man for fifteen years while cracking walnuts with it. The Stone Age implement, picked up in 1994 from a ravine near Jamghat (23° 40’N: 79° 55”E), is usually dated as a million years old; but, in India it could be as young as 100,000 years old as well2.  The surface of the sandstone artefact is covered with a red oxidized layer excepting a small area where its sculptor has scraped the rock to shape humanoid head, neck and body in his tool. It struck me only during 2009 that the ancient man did not waste his skill, labour and times to carve a humanoid statue just for cracking nuts, as I was doing. Soon the artefact was cleaned well and mounted in upright pose of a man on July 19, 2009 for study (Figures 1, 2).

Nothing spectacular was seen in the mounted statue except the quantum of labour done by the artist. The head was carved with much effort down to the deep indentation of neck below the face. Subsequently, the scraping was reduced gradually on the body and terminated against a red oxidized surface just four centimetres below the furrow of neck. The face too has hardly any feature except a small groove to the right two centimetres above the neck, and another similar one to the left a centimetre above the first.

“What was the use of such a tool?” kept bothering me for long. Most relevant, in this context, was the mental status of the artist who crafted the tool before a hundred thousand years.  Men could speak, talk and exchange information those days but lacked counting potential. Aborigine  Andamanese3, migrating to Andaman Islands 55000 years ago, have no numbers beyond three; and, the sculptor of the humanoid figure couldn’t be better either  –  understanding at best half, one two and three. Utility of the implement was apparent, however, largely on account of Mundari tradition and language. Munda and Santhal tribes, now restricted in distribution,  have lived in the tropical belt from Indus to Ganges deltas since ages; and,Munda vocabulary  preserves words for deciphering the purpose and   use of my ‘irregular stone pestle’ collected from their past heartland. 

I observed that the lower end of scraping or the junction between scraped and old oxidized surface was vertically below the frontal profile of face; and, the midday shadow of thehead   would be on this line for five days on the summer solstice at the latitude of Jamghat. The humanoid from Jamghat indicates Sirma4 or the sun-on-head event, it was evident. Sirma marks the ‘new year’ for Munda people with commencement of Jargi-da5 or rainy season. The periodpreceding the Sirma is Jeth, which means the same, literally. Grooves on the face, it was also obvious, relate to sun; and, it really proved so after the measurements. The lower and upper groves represent dates of solar declensions 37 and 45degrees6 at Jamghat. Both the marks were equally relevant in past. The lower one marked the setting of cold due to dwindled-sun or Rab-bana (Raban)7. The midday sun travelled fast towards south after 37 degree declension   and   its shadow on the head of the humanoid moved upwards crossing just the upper groove; and, then, it returned to the lower groove again to mark the end ofRaban or cold times. Thus, winter had a period of 110 days when naked people of Jamghat kept mostly shivering (between October 28 and February 15). The preceding 140 days (between June 20 and October 29) made their best times – ameliorating atmosphere and plenty of food; and, the succeeding 95 days of Jeth season (between February 14 and June 21) meant scarcity of water and dwindling edibles during the summer.

The first scientist-artist on the earth made our first calendar-tool to decipher the highest sun on the summer solstice and onset of rainy season, winter and summer without counting beyond three. Cycles of moon – from new moon to new moon – helped him to log the duration of the seasons or Chandu (lunar-sky)8. In every season, commencing with rainy, there were more than three new moons counted by the three facets of Sky-sun indicator tool or Tiva-ling9; and, people had just to count one or two additional new moons before the solar events like Sirma or Rabanoccurred. Humanoid head, and 3 sides and 3 angles of body, making 7, divide a fortnight in 2 halves. Later, ‘wise’ tool Tiva-ling became God Siva

Man created the first calendar for his use somewhere between 1 and 0.1 million years ago and called it Siva-ling. I did justice to the tool in my possession by identifying it as ancient-most mnemonic device. It is not the only Siva idol of far past, however. Many such implements are lying here and there to on the Earth. You may be the one hitting other Siva-lings, if you search. Rush up! Such rare art-works of Stone Age could be very remunerative.

                    With Best wishes and luck for success in your search of Stone Age Siva-lings!


December 1, 2010                                                                                                                       J., Attadhisthanam


[1: Science of Consciousness, p. 41, fig. 14c.  2: Idem, p. 42, fig. 3.15.  3: Idem, Chapter-4.  4: Sirma (Mundari) – sky, heaven, year; Likely syllables Siram: Head +A: Sun indicate sun on head in sky during summer solstice in context with year.  5: Jarg i – Rain & Jargi-da Rainy-season (Mundari) suggest a transformation of Jalaji: watery (Sanskrit) into Jargi (J-g & r-l transformations) joined by da for water in Mundari.  6:  The grooves on the ‘face’ relate to the ratio of height of the humanoid tool and its shadow. On the 37-degree and 45-degree marks the midday shadows are three-fourths and equal to the height of humanoid idol. 7: Raban (Santhali & Mundari) has two syllables Rab (sun) + Banna (is as non-existent) compressed together.  8: Chandu (Mundari) – moon, month – used in context of seasons like JargiChandu is a contracted form of Chand: moon + Dyau: sky (Sanskrit). It denotes a period defined by the multiples of moon traversing the sky between two new moons (29.5 days). 9: In Tiva-ling, Tiva is made of Tiv (=Div of Sanskr.): sky +A: sun denoting Sky-Sunday or summer solstice. Ling means day (Mundari) as also indicator (Sanskrit). Sirma was, thus, a heavenly Sunday when sun did not move for five days from the Sirma mark on the Siva-ling]