A special lecture on ‘Recent Trends in South Indian Epigraphy and Archaeology’ organised by the CP Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation was held in the city on Saturday.
Dr S Rajavelu, Head, Department of Underwater Archaeology, Tamil University, Thanjavur, was the guest speaker on the occasion.
In his address, Dr S Rajavelu said, “In Tamil Nadu, there are around 150 sites that were excavated from last century till date. Even today, many more such sites are being excavated. With this, the ‘megalithic’ age is turning into ‘ironage’. Nearly 95 sites date back to the Sangam age. In 1904, Alexander Rea first excavated Adichanallur. The site dates back to 1700 BC, when the Harappan civilisation came to an end and the Adichanallur civilisation started. Some years ago, we even excavated pre-iron age sites at Thandikudi in Kodaikanal hills. Whereas, till now it is believed that Paleolithic sites were found only in Thondai Mandalam, but those sites are now found commonly throughout the State.”
He stated that the urns those days were used only by the people of the coastal region, while people of hilly regions used dolmens made of stone.
Also, when Alexander Rea excavated Adichanallur, he discovered around 6,000 articles there. The site is situated near Tirunelveli district. The people of that age utilised more gold and copper urns. Hence, even the river Thamirabarani, would have got the name from Thamiram, the Tamil word for copper.
Rajavelu said, “The articles discovered show that the site was a commercial centre, but we still do concentrate on habitat sites.”
He added, “Surprisingly, we cannot find black and red ware urns in any of the excavated sites except Adichanallur.”
“The Brahmi scripts appeared on the pottery of some of the excavated sites. In Kodumanal alone, around 350 pottery pieces with Brahmi scripts were found. More than 25 sites in Tamil Nadu have such pottery. It shows that people in Tamil Nadu were well-versed in the art of writing when compared to people in North India. So far, we found around 100 Tamil Brahmi inscriptions,” said Rajavelu.
Rajavelu noted that in ‘hero stones’ (memorial stones erected for war heroes), there are some inscriptions. “Presently, there are five hero stones with Tamil Brahmi inscriptions. The fifth one was found in Porpanakkottai some weeks back.”
Rajavelu added, ‘’In one of these stones, there is a word ‘paazhi’ which literally means a memorial stone. But some of the archaeologists argue that this meant ‘Jaina’ bed. This is wrong because Jainism came into being in Tamil Nadu many years after these inscriptions were made. With these inscriptions we can even trace the history for literature like Tholkappiam. “Likewise, people of that period who lived in local regions, added the suffix ‘ru’ along with the King’s name. For example, Narasimma Pallavaru. Keeping this in view, some of the archaeologists wrongly conclude that Kannada and Telugu people lived in these areas,” Rajavelu stated.