Tamil Nadu State Department of Archaeology on Monday released a status report of all the ongoing archaeological excavations in the state. This includes the excavations at Keezhadi cluster (Keezhadi, Manalur, Agaram, Kondhagai) in Sivaganga district, Adichanallur and Sivagalai in Thoothukudi district, and Kodumanal in Erode district, in addition to the explorations at Vellore, Krishnagiri, Tiruvannamalai, Dharmapuri, Salem, Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi districts.
On Monday, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami released the status report. K Pandiarajan, Minister for Tamil Official Language and Culture, said 3,959 artefacts were unearthed from the excavation sites in Keezhadi cluster and Erode till July 2020.
Notably, this year, Rs 31.93 crore fund was allocated by the state government for various schemes that the Archaeology Department will undertake. This is over two-thirds of the allocation set aside in the last 10 years.
Here is what the evacuation teams have unearthed from these sites so far.
From the Keezhadi cluster, 128 carbon samples (to determine the age of the object) have been collected so far. Of this 75.8% is directly from Keezhadi itself.
Some of the findings from Keezhadi this year include major structural activities, globular pot, furnace, cattle bones, numerous iron objects, copper objects, beads made of semi precious-stones like carnelian, agate and amethyst, glass, shell and weighing units, seal, Tamil-Brahmi inscribed potsherds and graffiti marks. These findings will reinforce the existing knowledge that the site was an industrial site and that people of the Sangam Age civilisation may have had strong trading activities.
From Kondagai, a burial site, 40 urn burials, one pit burial and 16 surface burials have been identified. Seventeen human skeletons and two animal skeletons have been unearthed. Some of the interesting details shared on these burials are that one urn had a human skeleton in a sitting position, with the skull facing north. In one primary burial, the childâ€™s body was laid north-south with head on the north, facing west while in another the childâ€™s body was laid northeast-southwest with the head in the north.
The backbone of an animal belonging to the bovine species
This year was Agaramâ€™s first season of exploration. The presence of microlithic tools, carbonised paddy, polished stone axe, ceramics, beads, terracotta figurines and decorated shell objects are among other artefacts found at the site. A gold coin weighing 300 mg, the rim of a pale green celadon Chinese ware, smoking pipes were also found here. Artefacts unearthed at Manalur, where trenches were laid in May this year, indicate furnace activity.
Adichanallur and Sivagalai excavations
This urn burial site was first discovered by Dr Jagor or Beril Museum in 1876. During the 1903 excavation, Alexander Rae found a good number of urns, gold diadems like that of Mycenae (Greek civilisation), bronze objects with exquisite finials, iron objects, and potsherds. Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) resumed excavations in 2003 and are currently in progress. So far, over 160 urns within 600 square metres have been unearthed.
Urn found at Kondagai
From Sivagalai â€” a habitation and burial site that lies 14 kilometres east of Adichanallur â€” excavations were carried out at Parumbu and Valappan Pillaithiradu mounds. In 11 trenches, 26 quadrants have been opened and 31 urn burials have been found here, in addition to 61 antiquities that include coins, stone ball and bowls.
Located on the northern bank of Noyyal River, the site lies 40 kms south-west of Erode. In Sangam literately works such as Padirruppattu, this village is referred to as Kodumanam, a trade and industrial site. According to archaeologists, this site lies on an ancient trade route that connects Karur (ancient Chera kingdom capital) to the ancient sea-port of Muziris in Kerala.
A total of 127 artefacts were unearthed in Kodumanal site so far. The large number of furnace materials found at this site indicate high-level industrial activities. Floor levels of houses, Tamil-Brahmi inscribed potsherds, terracotta objects, gold ornaments, punch-marked coins, iron arrowheads, iron sword, beads and animal bones have been collected from this site.
Burial urn found at Sivagalai
Tamil Nadu State Archaeology department has been collaborating with several reputed institutes such as Madurai Kamaraj University, National Institute of Advanced Studies (Bengaluru), Sharma Centre for Heritage Education (Chennai), Institute of Remote Sensing (Anna University), Vellore Institute of Technology, Deccan College Pune, French Institute Pondicherry, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (Hyderabad), Central University Tiruvarur and Indian Institute of Geomagnetism (Navi Mumbai).