MADURAI: The Archeological Survey of India (ASI) has brought the curtains down on the first phase of the massive excavation of the Sangam Age habitation site it had unearthed at Keezhadi, a non-descript hamlet in Sivaganga district.
The 7-month toil of the ASI team under the leadership of Superintending Archeologist K Amarnath Ramakrishnan under the coconut groves of Keezhadi Pallichandai Thidal has thrown up a wealth of historical information dating back to the Sangam Age.
Dilapidated buildings, stone chambers, brick tanks, ring wells, drainage channels among others found under the 43 trenches dug as part of the excavation reveal that it had been a major habitation site in the past.
About two dozen Tamil Brahmi-inscribed pot shreds carrying names such as Aadhan, Uthiran, Iyanan and Saragu; 350 graffiti including fish (the symbol of Pandyas), swastika, boat, bow and arrow and ladder on black and red ware; 1200 antiquities of which 800 are glass beads and semi-precious gemstones such as chalcedony, agate, milky quartz, crystal ear lobe and pearl beads, iron implements like like spear, offence objects like plough, bone stylus, shell bangle, antimony rod, ivory dice, chess coins, clay hopscotch, Rouletted pottery et al that have been recovered from the site indicate that Keezhadi had throbbed with life some 2500 years ago.
“The recovery of treasure trove of artefacts from the site is a strong indicator that the present Keezhadi was a flourishing urban centre with trade links with Rome,” says Amarnath. According to him, this is the first time a major habitation site has been unearthed in Tamil Nadu after Arichamedu in 1947 and Cauvery Poompattinam in 1965.
The ASI zeroed in on Keezhadi after inspecting 400 villages along the banks of Vaigai from which it traced archeological evidence from 293 sites. Based on classification by means of mound in the valley and expanse, it chose the site.
“As the period of agreement with the land owners has come to an end, we have closed the site on Sunday,” says Amarnath hoping to start the second phase in January next with a plan to dig 50 more trenches.An onsite museum has been proposed. “We have requested 2 acres of land from the state for this,” he says. Dhan Foundation’s K.P.Bharathi says the Keezhadi and Kondhagai panchayats have agreed to earmark lands for the project.