History dug up at tail-end vaigai

Five-month long excavation at Alagankulam uncovers brick structure, shell bangle-making industry & roman coins

Published: 29th September 2017 03:02 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th September 2017 07:16 AM   |  A+A-

Artifacts uncovered at Alagankulam in Ramanathapuram district

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The excavations carried out at Alagankulam, a promising site located on the confluence point of the Vaigai river and the Bay of Bengal in Ramanathapuram district, have brought to light a huge volume of antiquities and structures that could go a long way in proving the existence of an urban civilisation, industries and trade connections to overseas countries.

The eighth season of excavations by the State department of Archaeology has lasted five months, having started in May. Significant among the findings are a brick structure and evidences of existence of a shell bangle-making industry, iron smelting workshop, terracotta ring well and Roman coins, potteries and a cross-inscribed seal.

The discovery of a structure made of burnt bricks proves that the people who lived on the site had used such bricks during the Sangam period in Tamil Nadu. Evidences of industrial activities found at the site include a furnace and workshop used for shell bangle making. Three terracotta rings, each measuring up to 1 meter in diameter, has been found in broken shape, establishing the existence of a ring well.

A cross symbol-inscribed seal has made the discoveries interesting as it is linked to the Roman empire. Five Roman coins have been dug out from the site where 50 trenches with 15-20 feet depth has been dug up for the expedition.

According to  excavation director J Baskar, “The cross symbol-inscribed seal is an important artefact found at the site. It must have been used by the Romans who had landed here for trade.”
Roman potteries, including roulette, arretine and pieces amphorae ware had also been collected from Alagankulam, which is considered to have served as a port town in the coast.

Silver punch-marked coins, ornaments made of terracotta, ivory, copper, gold and fish bone beads and semi-precious stone beads-carnelian, quartz, amethyst and soap stone are also part of a collection of 13,000 antiquities collected from the site, where the excavation was held in areas of 1300 sq metre. A seed storage structure seen on the site gives glimpses of how the people had gone about food grain manufacturing.

The excavation team had found five types of seeds stored on a terracotta dish safely kept on a brick structure. The expedition wound up on Thursday. Eight archaeologists and over a hundred labourers were part of the team. The samples will be sent for advanced tests in an overseas lab for carbon dating.

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