CHENNAI: Fossils play a vital role in learning pre-historic archaeology, palaeontology and evolution. With its rich depository of fossils, Ariyalur in Tamil Nadu is a treasure trove and hunting ground for researchers, archaeologists and geologists, besides attracting nature buffs. The backward district is going to be a hub for nature buffs soon with the fossil museum, a project by the Department of Museum, nearing completion.
Implemented at a cost of ` 2 crore, the fossil museum is located at Keelapazhur village off the Thanjavur-Manamadurai highway. It is being constructed at a sprawling area of 54 acres and will have display galleries featuring fossils, minerals, rocks, general geology, river geo-morphology and the solar system.
“The project of constructing the on-site fossil museum has almost been completed. We are waiting for an appointment from the Chief Minister to open the museum,” Minister for Tamil Official Language and Tamil Culture K Pandiarajan told Express.
The richness of Ariyalur’s antiquity could be known from the fact that 65-year-old fossilised dinosaur eggs were found on the Cauvery river-bed in Ariyalur years ago. According to Kavitha Ramu, Director of Museums, “In view of the large depository of fossils found in Ariyalur, the government decided to set up the on-site museum at Keelapazhur to preserve and conserve fossils.”
Not only will the fossil museum help preserve fossils, it will also help in teaching the younger generations the pre-historic archaeology and evolution.
Several fossils were stumbled upon at many places in Ariyalur during mining works carried out by the cement factories, in large numbers, operating in the district. Ammonites were found widely in Ariyalur district.
The Department of Museums has written to various government departments, agencies and private entities for donating fossils so that the treasures can be displayed at the museum.
A local man known as ‘Fossil’ Subramanian, who had died, had collected a large number of fossils and handed them over to a college in Tiruchi. The Department of Museums has approached the college to provide the fossils to it, another official said. Moreover, the Geological Survey of India (GSI), Tamil Nadu Minerals Limited and Tamil Nadu Department of Geology and Mines were also requested to share fossils in their possession in order to display them at the upcoming museum, he added.
Pandiarajan informed that steps were being taken to set up site museums at four other archaeological sites — Adichanallur, Korkai, Alagankulam and Keezhadi in Tamil Nadu — as well. The State government has approached the Centre for funds to construct museums at these places.
“We have already submitted a memorandum seeking Central funds for these projects. We hope we will be provided financial assistance from the funds allocated for the Ministry of Culture in the Budget.”
In Keezhadi, the Tamil Nadu Department of Archaeology is going to conduct excavations to dig deep further to find out more evidence to undoubtedly prove the existence of an urban culture in the ancient Tamil Nadu, he said.