ASI’S KEELADI REPORT

  • Keeladi continues to redefine Tamil history. In the latest development, the Sangam age has been pushed to 800 BCE based on the archaeological findings from the first two phases of excavation carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in this sleepy hamlet along the Vaigai river, about 13 km from Madurai.
  • Amarnath Ramakrishna, who led the first two seasons of excavations between 2014 and 2016, submitted his 982-page report to ASI Director General V. Vidyavathi recently.
  • The report has 12 chapters explaining the historical background and objectives of the excavation.
  • Based on the stratigraphy of the cultural deposits found in the first two phases, the period of the Sangam era archaeological site has been placed between 8th century BCE to 3rd century CE.
  • Sangam age was believed to be between 300 BCE to 300 CE. The new report repositions the Sangam age between 800 BCE and 300 CE, sources said.
  • Even this period of history has been classified into three periods. The pre-early historic period between 800 BCE to 500 BCE, mature early history between 500 BCE to the end of 1st century BCE and post-early history from 1st century BCE to 300 CE, sources said.
  • According to the report, the fertile nature of the area and cattle rearing played a crucial role in its evolution, paving the way for excess production of rice and sea trading of the inhabitants.
  • There is a separate chapter on the 23 samples that underwent Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) dating at the Beta Analytical Lab in Florida, the U.S. It includes findings by other universities and studies of floral and faunal remains from the site to arrive at the period.
  • About 5,800 artefacts were unearthed at Keeladi during the first two phases of excavation. Then Mr. Ramakrishna was transferred and then the ASI stopped excavations at the site, stating that there were no significant findings in the third phase.
  • In 2017, the Tamil Nadu State Department of Archaeology took over the excavations and thousands of artefacts continue to be unearthed at the site confirming the rich urban life of the ancient Tamils.
  • In 2019, the TNSDA, in a report, said the cultural deposits unearthed during (fourth phase) excavations could be safely dated to a period between 6th century BCE and 1st century BCE. One of the six samples collected at a depth of 353 cm dated back to 580 BCE.
  • The findings in the TNSDA report placed Keeladi artefacts about 300 years earlier than previously believed – 3rd century BCE. Now, the ASI report, which studied only 2% of the site, has further pushed the Sangam age to 800 BCE.

SOURCE: THE HINDU, THE ECONOMIC TIMES, PIB

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