MKU to seek Harvard University's help for Keezhadi DNA research

Would make relating the DNA findings of the artefact and the ancient man with the literary tradition, sangam age, anthropology, history, oral tradition.

Published: 27th September 2019 05:20 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th September 2019 05:20 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

MADURAI: The Madurai Kamaraj University (MKU) is likely to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Harvard University for researching the DNA of artefact found at Keezhadi in January next year. Sources said that talks were almost in the final stage.

According to sources, MKU would do the preliminary analysis and final analysis of DNA while the critical analysis (next generation sequencing) would be done at the Harvard University.
Speaking to TNIE, Vice-Chancellor of MKU M Krishnan said after signing an MoU with the State Archaeology Department, the university would be inking the deal with the Harvard University’s David Reich Laboratory. “MKU will host an international seminar in January 2020 by inviting experts from various countries to discuss the research to be conducted at the excavation sites, including Keezhadi, Adhichanallur and Kodumanal, in the State.

R M Pitchappan, a professor renowned for his works in genomics and a key player in the research, was roped in for the project by Commissioner of Archaeology Udhayachandran during a conference held January last (2019) in Chennai, where experts from linguistics, literature and anthropology participated to discuss about the excavations in the State.

Speaking to TNIE, Pitchappan said that Harvard University was chosen as the results obtained by the David Reich Laboratory would be precise, which would be acknowledged and reviewed all over the world.
“Harvard University has already worked in India with the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, and the Deccan College Post Graduate and Research Institute at Pune. They were involved with the Rakigarhi excavation, whose DNA results they recently published. The idea is to simultaneously develop our capabilities (Madurai Kamaraj University) by requesting the Harvard for transfer of technology,” he added. “The overall idea is to trace the evolution of mankind in India, particularly in Tamil Nadu, and bring it as publications and scientific journals for the posterity,” he elaborated.

Key Persons
Pitchappan said that the objective was to involve various experts available within and outside India, including Thanjavur Tamil University’s Archaeology Department professors, a retired Archaeology professor from Kerala Cheriyan, Historian Selva Kumar, Archaeologist Rajan and various Tamil scholars.
Further, in Harvard University, David Reich and Vagheesh Narshimhan would work with the team and help them get funds from various agencies

DNA Test
Would make relating the DNA findings of the artefact and the ancient man with the literary tradition, sangam age, anthropology, history, oral tradition. “DNA does not lie unless there is an error in methodology,” said Pitchaiappan.


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