The Path to Keezhadi - An Archeological Marvel
Significance of Keezhadi
While all other sites excavated in TamilNadu are primarily burial sites (Adhichanallur, Korkai, Alagankulam etc.,) , Keezhadi is the first site where various evidences of urban civilization have been found. This discovery challenges the history of India, where it's being believed that the Indian civilization originated and evolved along the Indo-Gangetic valley.
There are numerous reference to urban civilization in the Sangam literature. But until Keezhadi was discovered, there was no archaeological evidence to corroborate the claims in the Sangam literature.
The Tamil civilization in those ages were believed to be of a proto-civilization.
The discovery have produced indisputable evidences on urbanized civilization with brick walled constructions extending upto 500 metres with well evolved drainage systems.
The most significant part of the discovery is that of the Thamizhi/Tamil Brahmi (தமிழி) scriptures found on earthen wares and other artifacts dating back to 580 BCE proven by radio carbon dating.
06 - 03 BCE Sangam Era literature, like Pattinappaalai (பட்டினப்பாலை) and Madurai Kaanchi (மதுரைக்காஞ்சி), refers to urbanized habitats. The evidences at Keezhadi are proof to urbanization referred to in the sangam literature
1890- Manonmaniam Sundaranar, based on the research he did on the tamil literature, claimed that Indian history should be re written based on the civilization on Cauvery, Krishna and Vaigai belts (Keezhadi now has the scientific evidence for his claim)
1973- Balasubramanian, a History teacher at a school in Keezhadi, discovers artifacts made of earthen pots and kept writing to ASI for study. His struggle continued for almost 4 decades through numerous letters and RTI petitions
In June 2009, at Thenur, a village on the banks of Vaigai, a small pot was discovered underneath an uprooted tree. The pot had gold artifacts weighing 755.35 gms, and consisted of 7 finger sized bars weighing 661.20 gms. The purity has been ascertained to be of 24 carats.
The bars had inscriptions in Thamizhi/Tamilzh Brahmi (தமிழி) scripts. All the seven bars have the same 3 words of ten letters on it reading 'Pogul Kundra Kothai' ('போக்குல் குன்றக் கோதை') which could be the name of the owner.
Based on the inscriptions found on the artifacts they have been dated back to 300 BCE
The significance of this find is that it has been claimed that no ancient (2300 yrs old) artifact made of gold with inscriptions on it was ever found, anywhere in India. It indicates that the community had the capability to make pure gold bars, inscribe and store them for future use.
2013- Amarnath Ramakrishnan from ASI with a small team starts field survey. They start at the origin of the Vaigai river (Moola Vaigai) which has a small tribal settlement. An aged person handed over to them an artifact unearthed during construction. It was a black and red earthen ware. Instantly, Amarnath knew that it should be atleast 2500 yrs old.
(Black and Red Ware culture belong to the late bronze age and early iron age which dates back to 1300 BCE )
How and why Keezhadi was chosen?
The ASI team, led by Amarnath, surveyed the entire Vaigai belt stretching across 250 kms.
Villages within the radius of 8 kms from the river were visited seeking evidence.
Between Moola Vaigai, the origin, to Alagankulam, the estuary, 293 archeological sites were found. 100 out of the 293 are sites, which have evidence of human habitat.
Keezhadi is the largest area, among the other sites identified, with evidences of urbanization spread across 110 acres. Around 5 acres, constituting of 250 trenches, have been excavated so far in the 5 phases.
(More to come)