With the excavation work in Keezhadi near Madurai in Tamil Nadu coming to a halt, many questions are being raised about the motive of the project and why it was halted. The Archaeological Survey of India had found 5,600 artefacts from 102 trenches on this site after two seasons of excavation.
In September, a case was filed before the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court asking the ASI to stop ferrying the findings to Bengaluru for examination. First, the court had asked the ASI not to transfer it from the site, but later agreed to transport them to Dehradun.
Several political parties in the state have asked that a site museum be set up, reported The New Indian Express.
However, the union Minister for culture, in his response to a letter written by DMK working president MK Stalin, stated that the excavation was halted as a report from the authorities concerned was awaited, reported TNIE.
An archaeologist told TNIE that a final report is only required when the third season of excavation is completed. He said that when ASI is involved in the project, it should not be stopped, even temporarily.
Another archaeologist, R Nagaswamy, said that there is nothing wrong in halting the project temporarily. He added that many factors need to be taken into consideration, like the site belonging to private parties. He also said that closing the trenches will not affect the excavation and it can be kept protected with the use of tarpaulin.
The treasure trove includes semi-precious stones such as chalcedony, agate, milky quartz, crystal ear lobe and pearl beads and antiquities like iron implements, ivory dice, signets and pottery.
ASI director general told TNIE that the excavations have been paused and not stopped. Moreover, he said that excavators are supposed to submit a brief report every year on the outcome of the excavation and an annual report. A brief report has already been filed but an interim annual report is awaited.