The Keezhadi site had thrown up many surprises in the first three phases of excavation and so far more than 8,000 artefacts have been unearthed from the site.
After the second phase of excavation, various Tamil organisations and outfits had demanded that the state Archaeology Department undertake excavation at Keezhadi alleging that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is biased and won’t reveal the true history of ancient Tamil Nadu.
Following several demands and protests, the Archaeology Department joined hands with the ASI during the fourth phase of excavation after Rs 55 lakh was allotted by the state government to fund the excavation.
After the release of funds, excavation commenced in Keezhadi on April 18 and in the past two months around 3,000 artefacts, including gold, have been unearthed.
An official attached to the state Archaeology Department said that similar to previous years, the excavation commenced on 1.5 acres and 16 trenches were dug to unearth the artefacts at the land of a person called Chandran in Keezhadi.
To the surprise of the officials, a large quantity of artefacts were unearthed and so the department decided to obtain another 1.5 acres of land. A further 1.5 acres of land was obtained from a person called Karthick, near the present site, and the excavation commenced at the new site.
At present, excavation is under way at a rapid pace in both sites and in the first two months, about 3,000 artefacts have been unearthed.
Unlike the first three phases, where a large number of ring wells were found in the site, in the fourth phase, only one such well has been found.
However, structures like brick stoves apart from the usual pottery and beads were also found.
But for the first time, gold ornaments in large quantities were unearthed from two trenches in the first site on Friday. The gold has been shifted out of the village for examination, said the official.
The official expressed confidence that if the excavation continues until September, more than 8,000 artefacts could be unearthed from both sites. Artefacts unearthed in the fourth phase would number the highest when all the three phases are combined.
Though the excavation has been going on at a rapid pace, the recent spell of heavy rain in Madurai hampered the process and the trenches were covered with plastic sheets. Because of the covers, tourists and students were disappointed as they could not have a clear view of the excavation process at Keezhadi.