SIVAGANGA: The sixth phase of Keezhadi excavations began on Wednesday after it was inaugurated by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami through a video conference call from the Secretariat. Along with the excavation at Keezhadi, the State Department of Archaeology (SDA) would also be undertaking excavations at Manalur, Kondhagai, and Agaram, which are localities close to Keezhadi.
Subsequent to the inauguration function, attended by Sivaganga Collector J Jayakanthan and archaeological department officials, Deputy Director of SDA R Sivananthan said that an initial funding of `40 lakh had been allotted for the sixth season of excavations. If need arose for further funding, an additional `10 lakh could be granted, he added.
In the sixth phase, which would be carried out using the Digital Terrain Model, remains of the ancient brick industry found during the fifth phase would be further explored. "Owners of the excavation site have handed over nearly nine acres in the midst of the coconut grove for excavations, which will be carried out under the supervision of ten archaeologists from the department," he said. On the excavations at Manalur, Kondhagai and Agaram, he said that there was a high possibility of their finding artifacts relating to ancient industrial activity, and burial procedures.
During the inauguration ceremony at the Secretariat in Chennai, Principal Secretary and Commissioner of Archeology T Udhayachandran said that the department had collaborated with the Harvard University for research on artefacts, human DNA, and bones unearthed from the Keezhadi site. It was also suggested to chief minister that, in future, land near the site be acquired from farmers to establish a live museum. He added that the sixth phase would continue till September.
Fifth phase report soon
Speaking to TNIE, Deputy Director of SDA R Sivananthan said that the preliminary report of the fifth phase of excavations was nearing completion and that the department was awaiting the lab results of a few more artefacts.
Stating that the report would be released in two months, the deputy director hinted that "a lot of surprises await".
Excavations carried out Keezhadi so far
Five phases of excavations had been undertaken at Keezhadi and over 13,000 artefacts were unearthed. Artefacts found during the fourth phase had revealed that the Sangam Era was much older than previously thought, dating back to 6th century BC.