Unravelling the Pulicat puzzle - The New Indian Express

Unravelling the Pulicat puzzle

Published: 02nd August 2014 07:32 AM

Last Updated: 02nd August 2014 07:32 AM

CHENNAI: Hoping to unearth archaeological evidence from several hundred years in the past, the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) is awaiting a reply from the State Government to acquire a 11-acre site in Pulicat for a detailed excavation.

The Dutch had built Fort Geldria in the 17th century, but archaeologists here believe that a detailed investigation may reveal more about earlier centuries.

The trail trenches made earlier this year at the mound not only exposed the outer wall of the Fort, but also led to the recovery of a number of ceramics and antiquities, which suggest that it had a multi-cultural deposit dateable between the 11th and 18th centuries. No archeological excavation has been done in this area so far.

“We have been waiting for their reply since February and our Director General has also written to the government. The process is underway and we hope to get the clearance soon,” said G Maheswari, Superintending Archeologist, ASI, Chennai Circle.

The excavation is planned to identify the layout of Fort Geldria and its remains, and also study the cultural sequences of the site.

In February, a 10-member team made six trenches that revealed the wall of the Fort built in 1612, made out of three materials — foundation made of bricks and sand, middle part out of bricks and lime mortar, and top with 13 courses of laterite stone with lime mortar.

Further, a ring well with three courses of terracotta rings was found on the northern side of the moat. Two glass beads were collected near the ring well. “First the Portuguese landed in 1502, the Dutch in 1605 and later the British. Ring wells were a source of water in coastal areas during the Dutch period,” one of the team members said.

The antiques were fairly representative of almost all conceivable material of the day, including copper coins, ring, knob of the lid, bell, bronze coast button and chain, broken pieces of iron, nail, terracotta figurine, spouts, hopscotch, glass bangles, beads and copper beads.

The important discovery of the excavation, according to experts, is the imposed seal impression of foreign origin on the smoking pipes made of China clay, which are yet to be deciphered. “We have reached up to a level where we found evidence dating to the 13th century. Further excavation could reveal material prior to that,” the team member said.  

The pottery collection, ASI officials said, were distinguished into two categories: red wares associated with thin variety of celadon ware chronologically earlier in date, and two foreign wares imported from China, Thailand and Arab Countries like Zhangzhou (blue colour but looks dark grey under glaze), Jindezhen (Blue and White), Guangdong, Fujian ware and Islamic ware.

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