Amaranath Ramakrishnan, archaeologist of ASI lectured about the Keeladi excavation which he initiated and is supervising. These are my notes of his speech at Tamil Virtual Academy, Kotturpuram, Chennai.
Tamilnadu Archaeology overview
No serious systematic excavation along Vaigai or Tamilnadu since Alexander Rea in 1880. Occasional expeditions in Kallupatti, Mangulam. Only major ASI dig at Kaveripoompattinam. Alagankulam is the one rare site undertaken by TN state archaeology department.
170 habitation sites found by ASI Bangalore division in the last few years. Including Keeladi, Allinagaram, Enadi, Maranadu with Buddha sculpture (but called Muniyandi), Rajagambiram, Pandikanmay. Most sites are on the South Bank of Vaigai which is lower and hence, fertile.
Burial sites also found too besides habitation sites. Burial sites are never on fertile soil.
Several sites have been lost to real estate and other development.
Stone arrangements are North-south and East-west in Vembur. This is the first such site found in Tamilnadu. Such sites have been discovered in Andhra Karnataka earlier.
Gold bars with Tamil Brahmi (with name Kothai) were found. First gold bar discovered in Tamilnadu. Deposited with Collectorate.
More recent objects
Arabic sluice gate inscription of 17th century. Hero stones, with vattezhuthu, Pandyan era Durga, Jain and Buddhist statues at Arungulam and Kilparthibanur.
Of more recent vintage, (i.e. late Pandya) Karungalakkudi stone temple on the way from Madurai to Nedungulam with Sundara Pandya inscription! Kallikottai Siva temple also discovered!!
Keezhadi (or Keeladi) now in Siva Ganga district, called Kuntidevi chaturvedi mangalam, after a Pandya queen. Perhaps it is the Kondagai village nearby.
Puliyur Nambi of 13th century Tiruvilayadal Puranam says old Madurai was near Manalur, which is near Keeladi. It is 80 acres in area.
Bricks of three sizes found. Similar bricks found in Kanchi and Arikamedu. Handmade grooved tiles probably tiled roof, found. Ring well, pottery - for utensil not burial- found in brick dwellings stratigraphically.
Lots of antiquities - all finished goods - found; also coins figurines, glass and pearl beads, iron objects, bone point stylus actually horn, ivory dice, gamesmen, discs and terracotta wheels, Brahmi on pottery sherds with the words Thisan Uthiran Adhan Iyanan Surama. Graffiti pottery sherds also found.
Tamil history is stuck at 3rd century BC. Rajan's dating of Kodumanal as fifth century BC not accepted by anyone.
Nearly one lakh students visited. We allowed them and explained things to them.
Comments by Gopu
I can't find the video of this talk by a Google search. If some one provides a link, I will post the link here. I post this blog because newspaper reports seem more sensational than informative.
Mr Amarnath Ramakrishnan's passion and earnestness came through in the talk. If Keeladi is Sangam settlement like he claims, it is fascinating and important. It is remarkable that most of the sites found earlier were burial sites, not residential areas.
His comments on real estate development are valid. Once land is built up, archaeology is unlikely. I am surpised that there isnt a more active set of excavations around Gangaikonda Cholapuram.
I hope they commence a proper excavation at Gunduperumbedu also for the same reason. Prof Dayanandan of MCC, Tambaram expressed this opinion to me in a recent chat.
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