Phase 5 of the archaeological excavation at Keezhadi by the Tamil Nadu Archeological Department in Sivagangai district commenced on Thursday with Minister for Tamil Official Language, Tamil Culture and Archaeology Mafoi K Pandiarajan inaugurating it. The delay in excavations had been the subject of controversy with allegations that there was an attempt to cover up the discovery of a possible Tamil civilization.
According to one report in the Times of India, a total of 13,638 artefacts had been unearthed during the first four phases between 2014 and 2017. The first three phases had found 7,818 articles used by the people of the ancient era, while the fourth phase between 2017 and 2018 had unearthed 5,820 items. Speaking to reports at the site, Minister Pandiarajan reportedly said that site museums were to be established in Keezhadi, Korkai, Alagankulam and Athichanallur. The retrieved artefacts would be sent to the United States for carbon dating.
According to one report in The Hindu, the excavation team will be looking for structures beneath the surface. The team would reportedly be getting a 3D view of what lies beneath. Minister Pandiarajan is quoted by the newspaper as saying that the excavation would be undertaken for a period of one year at a cost of Rs 55 lakh.
According to one report in the Deccan Chronicle, a government press release also noted that between April and September 2018 six gold antiquities and skulls with names â€˜Kuveeran Aadhan and Ghodheerayanâ€™, etched in Tamil-Brahmi script, were found. Pots with designs of fishes, crocks of various sizes, conches, animal and human shapes made of clay and piece of ivory were also unearthed.
The excavation, by the Vaigai river, has been mired in controversy since 2016 when the central government reportedly delayed fund allocation for the continuation of the excavation. It has been alleged that since the discoveries in Keezhadi showed signs of a secular culture, there were delays in fund allocation and other obstacles in the project continuing.