The latest findings by the state archaeology department had turned out to be a heritage bonanza for those who had been toiling in the excavation site, which had already proved that a pre-Sangam era existed in the state. “The recent results have not only been encouraging, but it is an eye opener changing the interpretation of civilisation. Sangam age considered to be the golden age is ancient by more than 300 years.
The usual Sangam age reference is by around 300 BC, but the Keeladi finding confirms the presence of civilisation in TN dating back to 580 BC along the river banks of Vaigai in Sivaganga district,” revealed B Chandramohan, secretary, Tourism, culture and religious endowments. On the northern side of this cultural mound runs the river Vaigai at a distance of 2 km and the seventh phase of Keeladi excavation started on February 13, 2021. The recent findings include playthings such as dice, gamesman and hop-scotches, weaver’s tool such as spindle whorl, simple ornamentations namely terracotta beads, ear ornament, bangles made of shell and glasses and micro glass beads and lavish ornamentations like semi-precious stone beads and a golden wire, the top official said.
The archaeological collections from Keeladi are growing and a unique specimen of weighing stone made of beryl, hemispherical in shape with a flat base observed to weigh lesser than 1gram was acquired. Chandramohan said adding that the Tourism department will also explore the tourism potential of the historical site.
According to the Archaeology Department sources terracotta seals, iron bill-hook, iron nails, small copper ring, stone axe, bone points and miniature terracotta objects were also unearthed. Likewise, potsherds with graffiti marks were also recovered. There were also figurines of women depicting their hairstyles and designer wear dresses.
Meanwhile, a government press release said that a double roped design terracotta ring was traced on July 5 in the fourth quadrant of the trench at a depth of 1.26 m revealed a terracotta ring of diameter 77 cm with a height of 44 cm and thickness of 3 cm containing with two embossed rope decorations on the exterior as a decorative feature. In due course of excavation, two more terracotta rings were exposed. The latest findings and their documentations were discussed during the review inspection of Minister for Industries and Tamil language and culture, Thangam Thennarasu on Thursday, the release said.
Sites in TN now under excavation At present, seven systematic archaeological excavations are being conducted by the Tamil Nadu State Department of Archaeology in the sites including Keeladi and its clusters of Sivaganga District, Adichanallur, Sivagalai and Korkai of Thoothukudi district, Kodumanal of Erode district, Gangaikondacholapuram of Ariyalur district and Mylamdumparai of Krishnagiri district. Speciality of Keeladi Keeladi - an urban settlement of Sangam age on the banks of river Vaigai is located southeast of historical Madurai city. The site Keeladi with the cultural deposit extending over a vast area of more than 110 acres is the only site with more historical significance excavated by a state archaeological department. Most of the ancient sites in India are excavated by the Archaeological Survey of India.