Artefacts in TN's Perumbalai excavation site reveal an Iron Age story

The terracotta figurines belonging to the lowermost depths of stratum 2 (i.e, Early Medieval Period) not only exhibit their artistic excellence but also show maturity in their art.
From the shapes and size of the pottery, it belongs to the Iron Age
From the shapes and size of the pottery, it belongs to the Iron Age

CHENNAI: Archaeologists who studied the excavations undertaken at Perumbalai in Dharmapuri district have concluded that the shapes and size of pottery unearthed at the site undoubtedly belongs to the Iron Age. According to the accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) dates, the lowermost level of the site is dated back to the sixth century BCE.

This has been pointed out in the report - Excavations at Perumbalai 2022 - by S Paranthaman and R Venkata Guru Prasanna, published by the Tamil Nadu archaeology department. Chief Minister MK Stalin had released this report recently.

Perumablai is a small village situated on the banks of Nagavathi (ancient Palar) river. The report says the remains of pottery and other artefacts found at the ancient village shed light on the social, cultural, artistic, economic, and educational routines of the people.

“The potteries unearthed from the site at various stratum demonstrate the proper chronological sequences of pottery assemblage. The pottery occurring from the lowermost level is very thin and the fine BRW and black ware are more dominating types. The clay used for making the potteries was fine and well-levigated clay. Undoubtedly, from the shapes and size of the pottery, it belongs to the Iron Age,” the report states.

It further explains that the exposure of the habitation mound containing cultural deposit records a continuous settlement covering a period from the sixth century BCE to the 13th century CE as per the AMS dates and epigraphical evidence. “The evidence of the earliest human occupation goes back to the terminal phase of the Iron Age.

The ceramics, terracotta figurines, graffiti-bearing shards and other materials unearthed at the site indicate that the cultural deposit is divided into three cultural periods - the Iron age, Early Historic Period and Early Medieval Period from bottom to top,” the report adds.

The terracotta figurines belonging to the lowermost depths of stratum 2 (i.e, Early Medieval Period) not only exhibit their artistic excellence but also show maturity in their art. These figurines are well comparable with the terracotta figurines found at other sites in Tamil Nadu such as Arikamedu, Modur and Kaveripattinam.

In the concluding remarks, archaeologists S Paranthaman and R Venkata Guru Prasanna say, “The possibilities of occurrences of Tamili (Tamil Brahmi) shards in any of the future excavations at this site will help understand the transformation from graffiti to Tamili. The significance of the graffiti marks could be understood in a larger context if we pooled all the graffiti encountered in the early historic sites of TN.”

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