Archaeologists' attempts to learn more and more about our civilisation and past habitats and customs of the people always bore fruits. Rare findings from various places showed our glorious past ancient civilisation. Recently, scientists from IIT-Kharagpur and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) have uncovered evidence that the Indus-SaraswatiValley Civilisation is older than we thought.
In Tamil Nadu, another excavation brings to focus the ancient Tamil way of life. From a non-descript village, Keezhadi, in SivagangaDistrict has gained an indispensible place in the history map of Bharat. This is the place where an important part of Tamil history is being unearthed by the ASI. A set of four dozen square trenches have been dug out, to reveal what archaeologists call as one of the biggest human habitations of Sangam Age known so far.Following the exploration works on the Vaigai River bed in 2013-14, the ASI identified Keeladi village for excavation. The first phase of the study done in 2015 unearthed various antiquities, iron implements and earthenware, both foreign and locally made. The broken pottery parts are dating back to 3rd century BC proves foreign trade existed in the region during the period.
The Phase- I study found that this was an ancient urban habitation site. ASI went for the next phase of excavation at Keeladi. The present excavation field, a mound specified as PallichandaiThidal with a perimeter of 3.5 km and ranges 80 acres in a coconut grove. The mound at PallichandaiThidal at Keezhadi could be the significant trading township on the trade route linking Madurai to the port of Alagankulam. The trove of Pandya-era artifact unearthed from the 32 quadrants dug up so far, include glass, pearl, terracotta beads and figurines, grooved roof tiles, legged quern and early historic pottery like rouletted etc. The artifact “may provide crucial evidence to understand the missing links of Iron Age to early historic period and subsequent cultural developments,”said K Amarnath Ramakrishna, superintending archaeologist, excavation branch VI of ASI, Bengaluru.
During the massive second phase of work, with structure after structure surfacing from under the soil, the massive scale of an ancient urban centre that lies buried at PallisanthaiThidal is emerging. Itsuggests that the settlement at Keeladi village could be as large as the ones in Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro.The excavations show a well-built urban centre with many amenities and could possibly furnish physical evidence of life described in Sangam literature era. The excavation is lending much credence to the narrative in Sangam literature that throws light on the ancient Tamil way of life. The literature speaks volumes about the public and personal lives of rulers and the people of Tamil Nadu some 2,000 or more years ago. However, there had been no tangible proof in archeology to support the Sangam way of life.
Keeladi is coming into prominence as it is a habitation site. Archeologists said that the bricks unearthed are of various sizes 36 X 22 X 5 cm, 38 X 22 X 6 cm and 34 X 21 X 5 cm, typical of the Sangam era. “Through comparative dating, we place this site to be belonging to the 3rd Century BC, which is over 2,500 years ago. However, the exact age can be arrived at only after carbon dating,” says Amarnath, who has worked on excavations in research of Indus Valley Civilisation in parts of Gujarat.
Archaeological excavations were carried out in Tamil Nadu earlier in places like Kaveripoompattinam in Nagapattinam District, Uraiyur in Trichy District, Adichanallur in Tiruneveli District and Arikkamedu in Puducherry.While Kaveripoompattinam was famous mercantile seaport during Chola era that did roaring business,at Adichanallur, rudimentary Tamil-Brahmi script was unearthed. Interestingly, most of these were burial sites.