Tamil Nadu: Karai megalithic site in neglect, take up excavation, demand residents, history enthusaists

There have been demands for government intervention to undertake excavations and carbon dating to trace the period of ancient civilisation that existed here and collect scientific evidence.
The megalithic site in Karai village, Perambalu
The megalithic site in Karai village, Perambalu(Photo | Express)

PERAMBALUR: Another International Day for Monuments and Sites was observed on April 18 but residents of Karai and history enthusiasts lament the state of neglect the megalithic site in Karai of the district and the artefacts recovered from the spot are in. The village holds a wealth of archaeological wonders dating back to the Megalithic period. Discovered 78 years ago by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the site boasts of funeral artefacts, including burial urns, dolmens, cists, menhirs, offering a glimpse into ancient human civilisation. It was on June 26, 1946, the ASI discovered the 25-acre megalithic site in the village.

An iron fence was erected after the site was declared a protected monument. Despite a part of cairn and cist discovered on the surface itself, no excavations have been carried out at the archaeological site, say locals. Other artefacts, including burial urns, are lying in neglect for decades. Encroachments have further threatened the integrity of the historical site, with half of the land parcel falling victim to encroachments, they added. There have been demands for government intervention to undertake excavations and carbon dating to trace the period of ancient civilisation that existed here and collect scientific evidence. Yet, despite petitions and appeals to the district administration and ASI, no action has been taken, claim history enthusiasts and locals alike.

Jayapal Rathinam, a historian, said, "The megalithic site is one among the archaeological sites identified by ASI in Tamil Nadu. There are more than 100 burial urns, dolmen slabs and other artefacts, dating to different periods. If these remains are subjected to carbon dating, data can be obtained on the archaeological features of the site. But no excavations have happened so far."

"If the burial ground area alone is 26 acres, human habitation must have occupied a larger expanse. Due to lack of maintenance and adequate protection, the archaeological remains are slowly getting destroyed. Half of the 25 acres has already been encroached upon. Hence, the site needs to be excavated and a museum should be built to preserve the findings," he added.

Besides, burial urns scattered across villages such as Nochiyam, Pudunaduvalur, Renganathapuram, T Kalathur, Thenur, Kannapadi, Kunnam and Elambalur remain undocumented and vulnerable to destruction, underscoring the need for comprehensive preservation efforts, he stated. "Like Keeladi and Adichanallur, excavations should be undertaken in the area and protected. The government should raise awareness and after excavation, features of the site should be included in the district website and school textbooks," said V Raja, a resident.

When contacted, M Kalimuthu, Superintending Archeologist, ASI (Chennai Circle) told TNIE, "There are many places to excavate here. But we are short of manpower and time. Recently we sent a proposal to excavate in Amur village in Chengalpattu district. After this, we will turn our attention to Karai."

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