Unearthing several artefacts over the last few years has prompted the State Archaeological Department to send a proposal to the government recommending a large-scale excavation at the ground adjacent to the Bell Tower of the Thanjavur Palace complex.
Following this, the field-level officials have sent a recommendation to the Commissioner of Archaeology, proposing large-scale excavation. In the letter of recommendation that was sent to the department recently, the officials pointed out that similar artefacts were found earlier as well – on August 17 and also while digging the same ground to prepare it for a book exhibition a few years ago.
Recalling another instance, the officials added that during the renovation of the Palace complex in 1995 by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) ahead of the Eighth World Tamil Conference held in Thanjavur, a small ditch in front of the Bell Tower was scientifically cleaned by the ASI. The team stumbled upon a large number of artefacts buried in the ground.
“There were around 150 artefacts, including porcelain figurines of a camel, fowl and ‘Yazhi’, a mythical creature, pieces of porcelain ware, iron nails, triangular bricks and an iron lock. These are now showcased in the excavation museum in the Sharja Maadi of the palace complex,” an official said.
Official sources said the buildings now found in the palace complex date back to the Thanjavur Nayak (1532-1673 CE) and Maratha (1674 -1799 CE) eras. If the ground near the bell tower is excavated, the extension of the present buildings constructed by the rulers of these two kingdoms and their relationship could be established, they added.
“The ground close to the Bell Tower is 3.5 metres high. If deeper excavation is undertaken, there are chances of finding buildings from the Chola period,” said Archaeological department officials.
Pointing out that there have been speculations about the exact location of the palace of the imperial Cholas, the archaeologists said the excavation at the palace grounds could shed more light on it.
They added that there would be chances of finding of Sangam and pre-Sangam era history, and urged the government to take up the recommendations of the State Archaeological department so that a more comprehensive history of Thanjavur could be brought out.