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27th June 2007, 12:42 PM
All informations are by the Archealogists, researchers,and from news that i have collected and i will give the source as much as possible. I am not responsible for any contradiction in any way and i expect a healthy discussion on one of the greatest civilization of the world "THE TAMIL CIVILISATION". We should restrict the debate of this topic with the others (everybody knows), please cooperate and expecting more response from the true hubbers

Thank You

Tamil is one of the oldest and continuously spoken classical language in the world. The history of Tamil civilisation is recorded in Tamil and other Dravidian literatures, Sanskrit and other North Indian literatures and World literatures such as greek, sumerian,East asian countries etc.More knowledge about this great civilisation is brought out with Archeological excavations in recent times.

Archaeobotany of Early Historic sites in Southern Tamil Nadu

This research was collaboration was initiated in September 2002, in collaboration with Dr. K Rajan, Department of Ancient History and Archaeology, Tamil University, Thanjuvar, who had been a Charles Wallace Trust visiting fellow at the Institute of Archaeology January-March 2002.

The first systematic archaeobotanical samples recovered from three sites in the state of Tamil Nadu (see below).

All three sites are primarily early Historic in date (300BC-200 AD), and one site shows continuous occupation to the 8th century.

Mangudi , located Southwest of the village of the same name, Southwest of the town of Rajapalayam in Madurai district, on the banks of a seasonal watercourse called locally Deviaru, just east of the Varushanad Hills..... It is not yet clear whether this represents much earlier mesolithic/ ‘microlithic’ occupation of a site that was reoccupied, or whether aceramic (hunter-gatherer?) societies persisted in this region up to ca. 3oo BC. Discussions with the archaeologists indicate that other sites in the region indicate a similar pattern. The lack of well-documented Neolithic, or indeed Iron Age, occupation sites in this region could indicate that sedentary agricultural occupations were introduced only in the late 1st millennium BC during the same period as early inscriptional evidence, although further archaeological exploration, excavation and dating is needed to confirm.


Kodumanal, located on the north bank of the Noyil river between Coimbatore and Erode is a substantial occupation site which has yielded evidence of quartz bead production and cotton textile production in previous excavations by Dr. Rajan, in addition to 150+ megalithic burials in surrounding cemeteries. The importance of this site in long distance exchange networks is indicated by find of long distance imports in excavated graves, including many etched carnelian beads (closest sources in Maharashtra) and some lapis lazuli (closest sources in Afghanistan). The agricultural base of this settlement has not been systematically investigated previously although earlier excavations did yield some chance funds of charred seeds, including nonce cache of charred cotton seeds.


Perur, located northeast of the city of Coimbatore is the site of a historical 8/9th c. temple as well as an ancient settlement. Two settlement mounds are located on the south bank of the Noyil river. Threnches were excavated in both mounds by the Coimbatore office of the State archaeology department (Dr. R. Poongundam and his colleagues, as well as T. Subramanian from the Thanjuvar office). The western mound, with deposits from the 7th to 8th century AD, had ca. 2 meters in 3 layers. 6 Samples were floated from here.

Thanks : http://www.ucl.ac.uk/archaeology/staff/profiles/fuller/tamil.htm

27th June 2007, 12:47 PM
Skeletons, script found at ancient burial site in Tamil Nadu

An urn containing a human skull and bones unearthed by the Archaeological Survey of India at Adhichanallur, near Tirunelveli town in Tamil Nadu. Twelve of these urns (below) contain human skeletons. Three of them, which may be 2,800 years old, bear inscriptions that resemble the early Tamil Brahmi script. -- Photos: A. Shaikmohideen


In spectacular finds, the Archaeological Survey of India, Chennai Circle, has unearthed a dozen 2,800-year-old human skeletons intact in urns at Adichanallur, 24 km from Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu. Three of these urns contain writing resembling the early Tamil Brahmi script. The dozen urns containing the skeletons form a part of about 100 fully intact urns unearthed in various trenches at the site, where excavation is under way. The urns were found at a depth of two to three metres. The finds may revolutionise theories about the origin of ancient culture in Tamil Nadu and the origin of writing in South Asia.
T. Satyamurthy, Superintending Archaeologist, ASI, Chennai Circle, the director of excavation at Adichanallur, said: "People generally think that megalithic culture is the earliest culture in South India, especially in Tamil Nadu. In our excavation [at Adichanallur], we have come across a culture earlier than the megalithic period." The megalithic period in South India ranges from 3rd century B.C. to 3rd century A.D.
Dr. Satyamurthy called Adichanallur "the earliest historical site in Tamil Nadu." The ASI would conduct "a thorough exploration of the area" to find out whether there had been any habitation nearby. If such a site was found, it would be the first discovery of its kind in Tamil Nadu. So far, no habitation belonging to this period had been found in the State. He described the discovery of writing resembling the early Tamil Brahmi script on the urns as "very important." Samples of the skeletons have been sent to the National Geophysical Research Institute, Hyderabad, for carbon-14 dating. Along with the skeletons, husks, grains of rice, charred rice and neolithic celts (axe-like instruments used in agricultural operations) have been found.
The skeletons found in two or three urns show that prior to the megalithic period, these people used to inter the dead in urns along with the items they had used. Early Tamil Sangam works contained elaborate descriptions of the urn-burial custom. At Adichanallur, pottery belonging to the early historic period, which stretches from 3rd century B.C. to 3rd century A.D., was found on the upper layers of the trenches and the urns were found below. So the discoveries at Adichanallur may go back to 7th or 8th century B.C., probably earlier than the Sangam period, Dr. Satyamurthy said.
He said that since the Brahmi script was found together with the skeletons, the date of the script could be determined if they could fix the date of the skeletons. "So far, we have been doing it on palaeographic grounds. Now, we will get a scientific date." He said that the script might refer to names.


Dr. Sathyamurthy said that the Brahmi script of around 500 B.C. had been found in Sri Lanka. Dr. S.U. Deraniyagala, former Director-General and now Consultant to the Archaeological Survey Department, Sri Lanka, called the discovery of the writing on the urns at Adichanallur "fantastic" and "very, very important." The evidence of writing on more than 75 pieces of pottery had been found in Sri Lanka and radio-carbon dating had established that they belonged to the period between 600 B.C. and 500 B.C. This discovery "sheds a completely new light on the origin of writing in South Asia," said Dr. Deraniyagala. Interestingly, there has been no evidence of habitation close to the cemeteries (burial sites) discovered there. According to G. Thirumoorthy, Assistant Archaeologist, ASI, Chennai Circle, many artefacts had been found along with the skeletons at Adichanallur. They included miniature bowls made of clay that were used in rituals, black and red wares of megalithic period ranging from the 7th century B.C. to 2nd century A.D., potsherds with graffiti marks, iron spearheads, knife-blades and hopscotches of various shapes including those in perfect circles. These hopscotches were used as weights, he said.

Thanks: http://www.hinduonnet.com/2004/05/26...2602871200.htm

27th June 2007, 12:51 PM
Rare artefacts found

Plaque belonging to 2nd century A.D. depicts `kuravai koothu'


NEW DISCOVERIES: The terracota plaque with five dancers, and a figurine of Ganesha. (Below) A `vel' found in front of the sanctum sanctorum of the Muruga temple near the Tiger Cave near Mamallapuram. — Photo: S. Thanthoni

CHENNAI: Several artefacts have been unearthed from the ruins of a Muruga temple that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has been excavating since July 2005 on the beach at Salavankuppam close to the Tiger Cave, near Mamallapuram.
The ASI's discoveries this year include a terracotta plaque that depicts five women performing `kuravai koothu,' a folk dance; a six-foot `vel' (spear held by Lord Muruga) hewn out of granite; three inscriptions in Tamil of the Pallava, Rashtrakuta and Chola kings; a tiny, beautiful terracota Ganesha; and the remnants of a furnace and crucibles for melting and moulding metals. The ASI has exposed the outer and inner `prakara' walls with standing pillars on all four sides of the temple. ASI officials called it "the earliest structural temple discovered in Tamil Nadu." The big bricks of the sanctum sanctorum of the Muruga temple showed that it dated back to the late Sangam age or the pre-Pallava period of circa second century A.D, they said.
Fabulous collection
T. Satyamurthy, Superintending Archaeologist, ASI, Chennai Circle, said the terracotta plaque depicting the dancers "is one of the fabulous collections that will enrich the archaeological wealth of the State." It is a 13 cm by 12 cm bas-relief panel that shows the women with headgear and prominent eyes. Their mouths are open as if they are singing. The plaque belongs to circa second or third century A.D., he said.
"It is an important find because it is difficult to find terracotta figurines of the pre-Pallava period," said P. Shanmugam, Director, Institute of Traditional Cultures of South and South-East Asia, University of Madras. "This is the first time in Tamil Nadu that such a group dance plaque has been found," he said. `Kuravai koothu' performed in Muruga temples find mention in the Tamil epic Silapadhikaram. The tall granite `vel' was found in standing position several feet in front of the garbha griha (sanctum sanctorum). The top portion of the `vel' is on a `padma' pedestal that has two rows of chiselled lotuses. Near the `vel' are two fallen pillars.
A sub-shrine or `vel kottam' with the `vel' in the middle and pillars supporting the roof must have existed there, said G. Thirumoorthy, Assistant Archaeologist, ASI. The `kuravai koothu' plaque and the `vel' established that it was a Muruga temple, added Mr. Thirumoorthy. It appeared that the sub-shrine and the main temple had collapsed twice because of tidal action or tsunami, he said.
All the three Tamil inscriptions discovered now mention the Subrahmanya temple at Thiruvizhchil, which is the present-day Salavankuppam. All spoke of the gift of gold for burning a perpetual lamp at the temple. One inscription on a pillar belongs to the Pallava king, Kambavarman (of 9th century A.D). Another was issued by the Rashtrakuta king, Krishna III, in his 21st regnal year of 971 A.D. The third belonged to the Chola king, Rajendra III, of 13th century A.D.

Earlier finds

During the earlier excavation from July to September 2005, the ASI had discovered the sanctum sanctorum built of bricks of the Muruga temple of the late Sangam age or the pre-Pallava period. According to archaeologists, a tsunami or tidal action damaged it. The Pallava kings subsequently converted into a granite temple in the 8th or 9th century A.D. It too collapsed because of a storm surge or a tsunami. The temple had a third phase of re-construction under the Cholas.

During the excavation last year, the ASI had unearthed two pillars with Tamil inscriptions of two Pallava kings, Nandivarman II of late 8th century A.D. and Dantivarman of early 9th century A.D. They also spoke of donations to the Muruga temple at Thiruvizhchil ( The Hindu , July 12 and September 21, 2005).

"We have thus evidence of the temple construction activity from the pre-Pallava period of roughly second century A.D. to the Chola period of the 12th century A.D.," said K.K. Ramamurthy, Superintending Archaeologist, ASI, Thrissur Circle.
According to Dr. Satyamurthy, two aspects of the excavation stand out. First, it is the earliest structural temple discovered in Tamil Nadu dedicated to Muruga and it was an important pilgrim centre in the Thondaimandalam belt for about 1,000 years. Secondly, the excavation brings to light stratified tsunami deposits.

Thanks: http://www.archaeologynews.org/link....efacts%20found

27th June 2007, 12:56 PM
[tscii:66ec1bcde8]UNEARTHING THE PAST

The centrepiece of the discoveries is this potsherd with the motifs of a woman, a stalk of paddy, a crane, a deer and a crocodile.


THE Iron-Age urn-burial site at Adichanallur, about 24 km from Tirunelveli town in southern Tamil Nadu, has attracted nationwide attention for three important findings: an inscription in a rudimentary Tamil-Brahmi script on the inside of an urn containing a full human skeleton; a potsherd (fragment of broken earthenware) with stunningly beautiful motifs; and the remains of living quarters (rampart wall, potters' kilns, a smith's shop and so on) close to the site.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) started digging the site in February 2004, about 100 years ( :roll: :?: )after the last excavation activity there. It is an extraordinarily large urn-burial site spread over 114 acres (45.6 hectares) on a low, rocky hillock on the right bank of the Tamiraparani river, close to a lake and surrounded by paddy fields and banana plantations. The first phase of excavation in 2004, stretched between February 4 and July 5. In the six trenches that were dug then, the ASI ran into a range of spectacular finds. Each trench was a square, 10 metres by 10 metres. T. Satyamurthy, Superintending Archaeologist of the ASI, Chennai Circle, is the overrall director of the excavation.

The urn in the foreground, found at Adichanallur, resembles burial urns found at Malwa in Madhya Pradesh, suggesting trade contacts between the two regions. A total of 157 burial urns were found, 57 of them intact and 15 with complete human skeletons inside. Many of the urns, especially those that contained human skeletons, were covered with another urn, in what is called a "twin-pot" system. They had been buried after cutting the rock in circular pits, into which the urns were lowered in a three-tier formation. The earliest burials formed the lowermost tier, which left enough space above to accommodate future burials.

Iron knives were among the artefacts unearthed.

Among the artefacts discovered at the burial site were a profusion of red ware, black ware, black-and-red ware, copper bangles, copper ear-rings, iron spear-heads, terracotta lids with tiered knobs, terracotta vessels that could be used both as lids and as bowls, globular vessels and long-necked utensils. There were vases, pots with exquisite decorations, broken daggers and swords made of iron. There were also Neolithic celts, iron implements, urns with clan marks and urns with hooks inside.
A range of red ware, black ware, and black-and-red ware excavated and now on display at the ASI office in Chennai.


The urns with skeletons had inside them empty miniature vessels, rice, paddy and husk. The miniature vessels were of three types: bowls, small vases and pots. Made of polished blackware, they are thought to have had religious significance. These small vessels invariably had their lids on. The lids were decorated with dotted, floral or geometrical designs and were painted. Some lids had tiered knobs that looked like chess pieces.


An urn containing skeletons, covered with another urn in what is called a twin-pot system. Archaeologists point to the care with which the dead were buried.


One urn had the skeletons of a mother and a child. Some skulls had disintegrated, the bones had become fragile. Some urns were broken, and were filled with earth, obviously the handiwork of treasure-hunters. Three copper bangles and some copper chisels were also found at the site.


Vessels and pots found at the site. An earthen pot and its lid.
Outside, around the urns, were bigger pots, which were red ware. Iron implements, knives, daggers, spearheads and Neolithic celts used in farming were found around the urns. Some pots rested on ring stands of different shapes. The lids came in different shapes - conical, globular, and so on. More than a thousand pot-vessels were unearthed intact. Lots of terracotta beads in conical shape and hop-scotches were found.

What is fascinating is the discovery of urns with clan/tribe marks. Some urns had ornamentation such as thumb-nail impressions running all round the neck. The clan marks included three lines separating out from the top, with knobs, and garland-like designs.
Satyamurthy called the Adichanallur burial site "the earliest site in Tamil Nadu" and was sure that its history would go back to 1,000 B.C. "In our excavation, we have come across a culture earlier to the megalithic period. It is a well-stratified culture. The pottery is typologically different from that of megalithic pottery," he said. (According to archaeologists, the Iron Age in South India stretched between 1,000 B.C. and 300 B.C. The Iron Age and the megalithic age were contemporaneous in South India. The Iron Age signifies the beginning of civilisation).

The centrepiece of these discoveries is the potsherd with motifs in appliqué designs. It was found inside an urn which had a human skeleton. At the centre of the motifs is a tall, slender woman with prominent breasts and wearing a knee-length dress. Her hands are clinging to her sides and the palms seem to be spread out. Next to her is a sheaf of standing paddy and a crane is seated on the paddy stalk. There is a beautiful, young deer with straight horns and upturned tail. There is also a crocodile, and a knob mark. The appliqué designs were made using clay. A small thin rope was used to bring about the serrated effect in each motif.


Archaeologists say marks such as these found on pots dug up at the site are clan marks. Satyamurthy called the potsherd "a unique find because no such motifs have been found so far in burial sites in Tamil Nadu. These motifs resemble pre-historic cave paintings found in central Tamil Nadu, including Erode and Dharmapuri districts." Archaeologists are agreed that the depiction of the woman signifies the mother-goddess/fertility cult.

G. Thirumoorthy, Assistant Archaeologist, ASI, Chennai Circle, who led a young team during the first phase of the excavation (other members were M. Nambirajan and P. Aravazhi), also said that the potsherd was "a unique find in the excavation of the Iron Age period, especially in South India." In other urn-burial sites in India, potsherds with such appliqué motifs have not been found so far. One expert, who found them "amazing" and "fantastic", said these motifs could be as old as 700 B.C. Arun Malik, Assistant Archaeologist with ASI, said: "Normally, such motifs are not found on pottery as they are generally seen only in pre-historic cave paintings."

Thirumoorthy said: "Adichanallur shows the importance given to the dead in Tamil society. The excavation reveals the mode of burial practice, the disposal of the dead, the religious beliefs prevalent then, and the socio-economic conditions of the people who lived here at that time."

Source: The Megalithic Culture in South India by B.K. Gururaja Rao.
Adichanallur and other megalithic sites in India.

The inhabitants of Adichanallur used an ingenious method to bury their dead. Thirumoorthy pointed out that these megalithic people were intelligent and had foresight because they used barren and not agricultural land to bury their dead. Besides, the urns were buried on a hillock, where they could not be flooded by the nearby river or the lake. "This is actually, a rocky hilly area. The urns were inserted after cutting the rocks in pit forms. It is not like digging the earth or sand. This is laborious work. Their intention was to accommodate the burials that would come later. That is why they went as deep as possible," he said. They obviously used iron crowbars to cut the rocks. The crowmarks on the sides of the pits could still be seen.

When the ASI started its digging at Adichanallur, it had two aims. First, to establish the date of the site and second, to locate the place where the people who used the burial site lived. Satyamurthy said: "Our main aim is to study the site, excavate it thoroughly and give a scientific date to it, using the carbon-14 dating method. We want to know the chronology or the sequence of the site and find out the nature of the culture that existed then. Another aim is to find out whether there was a habitational site nearby."


The remains of living quarters found close to the burial site in the second phase of the excavation include the ruins of a rampart. The question that haunts the archaeologists who have excavated the cairn (stone)-burial sites or urn-burial sites of the megalithic period in the South is: Where were the living quarters of the people who were buried at Amirthamangalam near Ponneri, or Perumbair near Chengalpattu?

The second phase of excavation, which began in February 2005, is currently under way on the north and northwestern slopes of the urn-burial site. If the aim of this excavation was to locate the habitational site of the people whose bodies were buried a few hundred metres away, it has succeeded in that objective. Among those taking part in this excavation are Nambi Rajan, Aravazhi, Arun Malik, A. Anil Kumar and C.R. Gayathri, all ASI archaeologists. Six trenches have been dug so far.


Potsherds found in the ruins of the habitation

The excavation has brought to light the town's fortification/rampart wall, which was made of mud with stone veneering in parts. Three potters' kilns with ash, charcoal and broken pots were found, confirming, according to Satyamurthy, that this was a habitational site. "It looks like a crowded town which was busy. On the one side is the burial site. Within 500 metres you have the kilns, which means life was active. It may have been an urban centre," he said.
Nambi Rajan said the trenches revealed a man-made floor paved with lime plaster. There were holes on the floor to hold posts. . A few individual letters in Tamil-Brahmi script have been found on potsherds. Plenty of potsherds with graffiti, especially the ladder symbol, have been unearthed. Artefacts unearthed include carnelian beads, terracotta beads and so on.

Some specialists are of the opinion that Adichanallur must have been a busy mining and industrial centre. The making of bronze figurines, iron implements such as swords, daggers and arrow-heads and big urns showed that it was a busy industrial township, they say.

M.D. Sampath, retired Director, Epigraphy, ASI, Mysore, said: " The excavated objects at Adichanallur are valuable in the sense that a study of the finds will reveal a new vista to know the growth and culture of Tamil society, and how this society achieved literacy."

Source : http://www.hinduonnet.com/fline/fl2213/stories/20050701000106500.htm

27th June 2007, 01:09 PM


A piece of writing has been discovered inside an urn at the Iron Age burial site at Adichanallur, 24 km from Tirunelveli town in Tamil Nadu. The script has six letters. The urn has a human skeleton in it along with miniature pots. What is unusual is that the script was inscribed inside the urn after it was baked. Normally, scripts are inscribed on the outer surface of urns.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Chennai Circle, made this discovery when it resumed its excavation at Adichanallur after about 100 years. Dr. T. Satyamurthy, Superintending Archaeologist and Director of the excavation, first noticed the script. He has proposed that the piece of writing is in very rudimentary Tamil-Brahmi. M.D. Sampath, retired Director, Epigraphy, ASI, Mysore, also "suggested that the writing is in Tamil-Brahmi in a rudimentary form." Dr. Sampath says he has "tentatively read" the script as "Ka ri a ra va [na] ta." He says the script has seven letters.

"Might date back to 500 B.C."

Dr. Satyamurthy has proposed, on the basis of "preliminary thermo-luminescence dating," that the pottery found at the site, including the pots found in the urn along with the script, might date back to circa 500 B.C. This date is, however, subject to confirmation by carbon-14 dating, which is the more reliable method.
The claim on the date of the script and the assertion that it is in Tamil-Brahmi will be subjected to the scrutiny of scholars in the field.

The term `Tamil-Brahmi' is used when the script is in Brahmi but the language is Tamil. The Brahmi script was predominantly used for Prakrit from the Mauryan (Asokan) period. The Brahmi script was brought to the Tamil country in the third century B.C. by the Jain and Buddhist monks during the post-Asokan period.
According to Iravatham Mahadevan, one of the foremost authorities on the Tamil-Brahmi script: "The Brahmi script reached Upper South India (Andhra-Karnataka regions) and the Tamil country at about the same time during the 3rd century B.C. in the wake of southern spread of Jainism and Buddhism."

In his magnum opus, Early Tamil epigraphy, From the Earliest Times to the Sixth Century A.D., Mr. Mahadevan says that "the earliest Tamil inscriptions in the Tamil-Brahmi script may be dated from about the end of 3rd century or early 2nd century B.C. on palaeographic grounds and stratigraphic evidence of inscribed pottery. The earliest inscriptions in the Tamil country written in the Tamil-Brahmi script are almost exclusively in the Tamil language."
While Upper South India was under the sway of the Nanda-Maurya domain, the Tamil country was politically independent.

As a result of political independence, Tamil was the language of administration in the Tamil country. "When writing became known to the Tamils, the Brahmi script was adapted to suit the Tamil phonetic system. That is, while the Brahmi script was borrowed, the Prakrit language was not allowed to be imposed along with it from outside," says Mr. Mahadevan.

Dr. Satyamurthy, however, proposes that the script found inside the urn may belong to circa 5th century B.C. According to him, this was based on "preliminary thermo-luminescence dating," which "takes the site to the period from 1500 B.C. to 500 B.C. So the script is also likely to be dated to 5th century B.C. even if we take the latest date into consideration."
Name of hero?

He pointed out that the Tamil-Brahmi script had been found in Sri Lanka too. The script found at Adichanallur could be the name of the hero whose skeleton is in the urn. "The associated pottery including the thin black and red ware [found in the urn] indicate the importance given to the dead person," he said. The denture has been sent to the Anthropological Survey of India for examination.

Delivering the T. Balakrishna Nair Memorial Lecture on "The geneses and features of Brahmi scripts," organised on January 12 by the Department of Ancient History and Archaeology, Madras University, Dr. Sampath said: "It may be suggested that the writing is in Tamil-Brahmi script in a rudimentary form. Attempts were made to blow up the writing so as to decipher it. It may be tentatively read as, `Ka ri a ra va [na] ta'. The reading is subject to improvement."
"A rare occurrence"

Estampages of the script could not be taken because it was inside the urn. So eye-copies were taken. Although the exact meaning of the script was not clear, it was quite likely to be the name of the engraver or the maker of the urn or the person whose skeletal remains were interred inside, he said. He described the script found inside the urn as "a rare occurrence."

Six trenches dug by the ASI, Chennai Circle, at the Iron Age urn burial site Adichanallur in 2004 yielded a cornucopia: 157 burial urns, 50 of them intact and 15 with human skeletons. The urns with skeletons had exquisite miniature pots inside along with paddy and husk. Around the urns were ritual pots and iron implements, including daggers, broken swords, a spearhead, celts and so on. One of the urns had the script inside it and this urn had a big lid too. It is called "twin pot."

27th June 2007, 01:12 PM


In an important discovery, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Chennai Circle, has located the habitational site of the Iron Age people who were buried in big urns at Adichanallur, 24 km from Tirunelveli town in Tamil Nadu. Although several urn burial sites such as at Amirthamangalam and Perumbair, both near Chengalpattu, have been discovered in the State, this is the first time the place where these people lived has been found.
The site discovered now is on the north and north-western slopes of the urn-burial mound at Adichanallur. It is a few hundred metres away from the burial fields.

T. Satyamurthy, Superintending Archaeologist, ASI, Chennai Circle, said, "We have succeeded in locating the habitational site at Adichanallur. We are excavating in a place where we are getting the materials of a town where people actually lived."

Two things are confirmed, he said. First, the settlement was inside a fortified town. "The fortification wall has been traced. There is a regular alignment wall." Second, the potters' quarters have been found inside the fortification wall. Discovery of three potter's kilns with ash, charcoal and broken pots showed wet pots/urns were baked with fire. Artefacts, including an iron knife, carnelian beads, terracotta beads, couex beads, bone implements and potsherds with graffiti have also come to light.
According to Mr. Satyamurthy, the urn-burial site could be dated "to about 1,000 B.C," that is 3,000 years ago. "Contemporary to that, we have got the habitational site."

The ASI, Chennai Circle, re-excavated the Iron Age burial site at Adichanallur in 2004 after a gap of about 100 years. Six trenches yielded 157 burial urns. Fifty were intact and 15 had human skeletons. The urns containing the skeletons had exquisite miniature pots along with paddy and husk. Around the urns were bigger, ritual pots and iron implements such as daggers, broken swords, an exquisite spearhead and celts. Three copper bangles were found.

A broken piece of burial urn had a series of stunning motifs of a tall woman, a sheaf of standing paddy, a crane sitting on the paddy stalk, a deer with straight horns and so on. The centrepiece contained Tamil writing in very rudimentary Tamil Brahmi, engraved inside an urn. Epigraphists have tentatively read the writing as "ka ri a ra va [na] ta." An aim of the excavation in 2004 was to locate the habitational site, and co-relate what was found in the burial site with the place where people lived. So the ASI resumed the excavation at Adichanallur on February 7, 2005.

Those who took part in it included M. Nambi Rajan, Arun Malik, P. Aravaazhi, A. Anil Kumar and C.R. Gayathri, all ASI archaeologists.
Four trenches, each by 10 metres by 10 metres, were dug. Mr. Nambi Rajan said that in the beginning, they found a lot of potsherds of red ware, black and red ware, red slipped ware etc. Potsherds with graffiti and unidentified terracotta objects were found.

"Incipient, sharp bone tools were also found," he said. The trenches revealed a man-made floor mixed with lime plaster, holes on the ground to hold posts, burnt patches, parts of a burnt fowl, all of which indicated that the place was inhabited.

Busy town
The discovery of a fortification wall, that is a rampart, and three potter's kilns confirmed that it was a habitational site. The fortification wall is packed inside with mud. On the outside, it is packed with stones in an irregular manner. The kilns have revealed holes to hold posts, thick coating of ash from burnt timber, "a lot of charcoal" and broken pots.

A smith's shop was located in another trench and there were touchstones to make beads. In one place, about 100 beads made of couex (an organic material) were discovered for the first time. The floors found in trenches were made of hard reddish clay and coated with cow dung. Ms. Gayathri said the fortification wall separated the industrial area from the habitational site. Mr. Satyamurthy said: "It looks like a crowded town, which was busy. On the one side is the burial site. Within 500 metres, you have the kilns, which means life was active. It might have been an urban centre."

27th June 2007, 01:15 PM


Pottery inscription in Tamil-Brahmi found in Thailand by a Thai-French team of archaeologists.

A unique Tamil-Brahmi Inscription on pottery of the second century AD has recently been excavated in Thailand. A Thai-French team of archaeologists, led by Dr. Bérénice Bellina of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France, and Praon Silpanth, Lecturer, Silpakorn University, Thailand, has discovered a sherd of inscribed pottery during their current excavations at Phu Khao Thong in Thailand.

At the request of the archaeologists, Iravatham Mahadevan, an expert in Tamil Epigraphy, has examined the inscription. He has confirmed that the pottery inscription is in Tamil and written in Tamil-Brahmi characters of about the second century AD. Only three letters have survived on the pottery fragment. They read tu Ra o... , possibly part of the Tamil word turavon meaning `monk.'
The presence of the characteristic letter Ra confirms that the language is Tamil and the script is Tamil-Brahmi. It is possible that the inscription recorded the name of a Buddhist monk who travelled to Thailand from Tamil Nadu. This is the earliest Tamil inscription found so far in South East Asia and attests to the maritime contacts of the Tamils with the Far East even in the early centuries AD.

Prof. Richard Salomon of the University of Washington, U.S., an expert in Indian Epigraphy, has made the following comment on the inscription: "I am happy to hear that the inscription in question is in fact Tamil-Brahmi, as I had suspected. This is important, among other reasons, because it presents a parallel with the situation with Indian inscriptions in Egypt and the Red Sea area. There we find both Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions and standard-Brahmi insciptions; and we now see the same in Vietnam and South-East Asia. This indicates that the overseas trade between India to both the West and the East involved people from the Tamil country and also other regions."

Iravatham Mahadevan adds: "Already we know of the existence of a touchstone engraved in Tamil in the Tamil-Brahmi script of about the third or fourth century AD found in Thailand and presently kept in a museum in the ancient port city of Khuan Luk Pat in Southern Thailand. There is every hope that the ongoing excavations of the Thai-French team will bring up more evidence of ancient contacts between India and Thailand."[/tscii:9c51c547c4]

27th June 2007, 01:19 PM

The discovery of a late Tamil Sangam age temple 50 km from Chennai strengthens the view that a string of Seven Pagodas existed along the Mamallapuram coast.

THE remains of an ancient brick temple, possibly 2,000 years old, have been discovered on the beach near Tiger Cave in Mamallapuram, 50 km from Chennai. According to archaeologists involved in the excavation, the temple; dedicated to Muruga, also known as Karthikeya, may date back to the late Tamil Sangam age, between 1st century B.C. and 2nd century A.D. An inscription in Tamil on a rock near the excavated site led to the discovery of the temple. The rock, lodged in sand, was exposed fully by the tsunami that struck Mammalapuram on December 26, 2004.

The original temple was damaged severely by what archaeologists think was a tsunami or a massive tidal wave action. Subsequently, the Pallava kings converted it into a granite temple in the 8th and 9th century A.D., which too fell to tidal waves or a tsunami.


The credit for discovering this temple complex goes to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Chennai Circle. Its Superintending Archaeologist, T. Satyamurthy, who is the director of the excavation at the site, said the brick temple "definitely belongs to the late Tamil Sangam age. There is no doubt that it is 2,000 years old. It is the most ancient temple discovered so far in Tamil Nadu. I can say that with authority."

According to G. Thirumoorthy, Assistant Archaeologist, ASI, the Pallava rulers filled the sanctum sanctorum of the brick temple with sand, placed granite slabs over it and used it as a foundation to build a new temple. This temple had a vimana (tower) made of granite blocks with carvings. So the temple had two distinct phases: the late Sangam age and the Pallava period.


The temple could have had a third phase of construction, according to Satyamurthy. The ardha mantapa and the mukha (entrance porch) of the temple complex, which have been unearthed, could have been built by the Cholas, he said.

The late Sangam age artefacts that were excavated include broken stucco figurines, which were perhaps under worship in the brick temple; a painted hand portion with a bangle of a stucco figurine; terracotta lamps; beads; roofing tiles made of terracotta; spinning whorls; a broken terracotta animal figurine; and hopscotch. The ASI has also brought to light the prakara (compound wall) of the brick temple.


An important discovery was that of two carved, granite pillars of the Pallava period. Both the pillars have inscriptions in Tamil. While one pillar mentions the seventh regnal year (813 A.D.) of the Pallava king Dantivarman, the other has an inscription belonging to the 12th regnal year (858 A.D.) of another Pallava king, Nandivarman III. The inscriptions on the pillars speak about donations made to a Subrahmanya temple at a place called Thiruvizhchil, which is the present-day Salavankuppam, where the Tiger Cave monuments are located.

Other Pallava age artefacts unearthed include carved granite blocks from the collapsed temple vimana, a bronze lamp with a carving of a cock (the vehicle of Muruga or Subrahmanya), and roofing tiles. The granite blocks have carvings of Ganesa, elephants, mythical animals and floral motifs. A copper coin belonging to the Chola period was found on the surface of the site.

THE discovery of the temple complex has strengthened the arguments of those who believe that a string of Seven Pagodas (temples with vimanas) existed on the Mamallapuram coast. Although many dismiss it as a fanciful imagination, the discovery in February 2005 of the remains of a massive temple, dedicated to Siva, close to the Shore Temple at Mamallapuram, revived the debate about whether the Seven Pagodas did exist after all. After last year's tsunami washed away the beach sand and revealed dressed rock in a square area close to the Shore Temple, the ASI excavated the spot and ran into the remains of a temple, which would have rivalled the Shore Temple in size and grandeur (Frontline, May 7, 2005). The Shore Temple, which is on the fringes of the sea, is said to be one of the Seven Pagodas and it is the only one that exists.

The monuments at Mamallapuram were built by the Pallava kings, whose reign began in the 4th century A.D. Kancheepuram, situated about 55 km away, was their capital, and Mamallapuram, their port. Mahendravarman I, who ruled between A.D. 580 and A.D. 630, was a builder of repute and a poet, playwright and musician. Under his son, Narasimhavarman I (A.D. 630-668), the Pallava rule is believed to have reached the heights of glory. The Pallava reign came to an end when the Cholas overran them in the 9th century A.D.


The Atiranachandesvara Cave Temple, popularly known as the Tiger Cave and which is located 2 km ahead of the Shore Temple, has two temples: the one on the southern side resembles a tiger's head and has bas relief of elephants, and the one on the northern side has a Sivalingam.

The tiger-headed temple is actually a porch or a mantapa, from where the king perhaps gave audience. The one with the lingam has Somaskanda panels on the rear and sidewalls and a panel of Mahishasamardini. Although some scholars believe the cave temple was built by Mahendravarman (A.D 582-610), it was actually built by his son Narasimhavarman I (A.D. 630-668). There are bilingual inscriptions in Pallava-Grantha and Nagari scripts in Sanskrit language on the walls of this temple. On the floor are found inscriptions in Tamil belonging to Raja Raja Chola, who built the Brihadeeswara temple in Thanjavur around 1,000 A.D.

Scholars differ on whether the cave temples were built by Paramesvaravarman, who is also known as Narasimhavarman II and Rajasimha. The Shore Temple and the Kailasanatha temple at Kancheepuram are the creations of Rajasimha (A.D. 690-728).

ON the beach, about 300 metres to the north of the cave temple is a rock with three inscriptions on its sides. The inscriptions in Tamil on the western and southern sides belong to Parantaka Chola and Kulotunga Chola. The inscription on the eastern side was revealed after the tsunami washed away the sand around it.

S. Rajavelu, Epigraphist, ASI, found that the inscription in Tamil belonging to Rashtrakuta king Krishna III who ruled the area in 9th century A.D. praised him as the "conqueror of Kachi and Thanjai", that is Kancheepuram and Thanjavur, and spoke about the existence of a Subrahmanya temple at Thiruvizhchil in "Aroor kottam (division)".

This inscription raised the curiosity of the ASI archaeologists. "So when we excavated [the mound nearby], we got a good result," said Satyamurthy. Thirumoorthy said: "We first found an outer wall which gave us hope. Then we found the plinth of the temple. It was square in plan. It had an inner core, built of both brick and granite."


The finding of the inscriptions in Tamil on the two carved granite pillars thrilled them the most. The inscription on one pillar speaks about a Brahmin woman called Vasanthanaar, wife of Sri Kambattar of Sandilya Gothram, hailing from Maniyir, presently Manaiyur, near Trivellore. She donated 16 kazhanchu (small balls of gold) to the Subrahmanya temple. The sabaiyar (the village assembly) of Thiruvizhchil was to use the interest accrued from the gold to keep the lamp of the temple lit perpetually.

The inscription on the second pillar, belonging to the reign of Nandivarman III, spoke about a Kirarpiriyan of Mamallapuram, who donated 10 kazhanchu of gold to that temple. The interest that accrued from the gifted gold was to be used by the ooraar (residents of the village) and sabaiyar to celebrate a festival during the Tamil month of Kaarthigai. This pillar has a carving of a trishul (trident) on one side.

The inscriptions confirmed that the ASI had excavated a Subrahmanya temple. This motivated the team to dig further.

The sanctum sanctorum of the temple, built entirely of bricks, is almost square in size, measuring 2 m by 2.2 m. It has 27 courses of bricks. The bricks were laid over a foundation made of three courses of laterite. There are other brick structures as well.

The outer surface of these structures has a thick coat of lime plaster to prevent water from seeping through. The bricks measure 40 cm x 20 cm x 7 cm. Some bricks are smaller in size. The bricks have been sent to the University of Manipur for optically stimulated luminescent dating.


The bricks are similar to those that had been found earlier at Kaveripoompattinam near Thanjavur, Orayur in Tiruchirapalli district, which was the capital of the Cholas of the Sangam age, Mangudi near Tirunelveli, and Arikkamedu near Pondicherry.

"We have got the full layout of the temple," said Thirumoorthy. Although similar structures (which could date back to 2,000 years) have been found at Kaveripoompattinam, it cannot be definitely said that they were (Hindu) temples. They could be Buddhist structures. "However, for the first time, we have discovered a brick temple in Tamil Nadu, dating back to the Sangam period," he added. A painted, stucco figurine of Muruga must have been in the sanctum. Since the sanctum is small, no rituals would have been conducted within, he said.

Satyamurthy was sure the brick temple belonged to the pre-canonical period, that is, before Agama texts and shilpa sastras came into existence in the 6th or 7th century A.D. For these texts entail that temples should face east or west, whereas the excavated temple faces north.


According to P. Aravazhi, research scholar, ASI, three working levels were exposed just outside of the temple, which indicated that the temple must have been built in three phases.

On its eastern side are deposits of shells in various layers of the earth. Satyamurthy said: "What is interesting is not the discovery of the brick temple but that we can record stratigraphically the remains of the paleo-tsunami deposits.... If not tsunami, a tidal wave had pulled down the temple on the eastern side. We are finding more debris on the eastern side and less on the western side."

Geophysicists from the Centre for Earth Science Studies, Thiruvananthapuram, have taken up the study of the deposits to date them.

Dr. Terry Machado, scientist of the Centre for Earth Science Studies, was, however, circumspect. He said if it was tsunami, there should be continuity of deposit all along the coast. "We are looking for similar deposits in other excavated sites such as Kaveripoompattinam, Arikkamedu and Korkai... Whether the temple was destroyed by a tsunami or a storm surge, we cannot say. If it was a storm surge, it would have been localised around the Mamallapuram coast."

27th June 2007, 09:05 PM
Nice thread smss_engineer. Keep up the good work