The Tamil Nadu Archeology Department (TNAD) has stated that the ‘cultural deposits’ unearthed at the Keeladi excavation site at the banks of Vaigai in the Sivaganga district can be dated back to 6th century BCE, at least 3 century earlier than previously thought.
As per reports, this is the first time the TNAD has officially announced the date. K Pandiarajan, the minister for Tamil culture and archaeology released an official report on Thursday which stated that the Keeladi Vaigai artefacts can be dated to as far back as 6th century BCE.
Commissioner of Archaeology T. Udayachandran stated that one of the 6 samples collected at the depth of 353 cm which was sent to the US at the Beta Analytic Lab, Miami, Florida for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry dating, has been dated at 580 BC. The report was titled, ‘Keeladi-An Urban Settlement of Sangam Age on the Banks of River Vaigai’. It has been published by the TNAD.
The six samples are dated between 6th century BCE and 1st century BCE. The 61-page report also claimed that the Tamil-Brahmi script is considerably older and the findings at the Keeladi site prove that the second urbanisation of the Vaigai plains happened around the 6th century BCE. The report also states that the people inhabiting these sites had attained literacy and had started writing at around the 6th century BCE.
The skeletal fragments collected at the site were sent to Pune’s Deccan College Post Graduate Research Institute and they have been found to belong to domestic animals like cow, buffalo, sheep, goat etc. Some fragments of Neelgai, wild boar and peacock have also been found.
Sharp bone tools, pottery, terracotta vessels, hanging stones for yarn, copper needles and other tools found also suggest the society used to spin threads and weave clothes. Cooking vessels and water containers were made out of locally available raw material, said the report.
The graffiti symbols found at the site reportedly bear similarity to the symbols from Indus Valley civilisation. As many as 1000 graffiti marks were reportedly found.
The excavation site is located at around 12 km from Madurai, in the banks of the Vaigai river. While the first three phases of excavation were carried out under the Archeological Survey of India, the fourth phase was done under TNAD. The current report is based on the fourth phase excavation that was done from 2017 to 2018 and had brought out 5820 artefacts. The TNAD is currently carrying out the 5th phase of excavation that had started from June 2019.