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`First-ever celt was found near Madikeri'

By Jeevan Chinnappa

MADIKERI, JAN. 9. The first-ever find of a celt (pre-historic chisel-edged stone tool) or a "stone hatchet," in Karnataka was made in 1868 at the crest of a hill six km north of Mercara (Madikeri) in Coorg (Kodagu), according to the Assistant Superintending Archaeologist, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), C.B. Patil.

The celt was found by H.A. Mangles in the Cauvery valley, where he found fragment of a stone hatchet.

He communicated this to the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta (Kolkata), and it was handed over the Indian Museum in Calcutta later, he said. Mr. Patil is here in connection with a programme to create awareness on conserving monuments, taken up by the ASI and the National Service Scheme (NSS).

J. Coggin Brown, who catalogued the pre-historic collection in the Indian Museum, documented this implement with accession number 994 as a "celt with upper part missing, having a sharp crescentic edge, fashioned on smoothed diorite."

Therefore, the theory that the first-ever Neolithic celt in the State was found in Ligsugur of Raichur district is not true, Mr. Patil said. The Neolithic age extended approximately between 2500 B.C. and 1000 B.C.

Neolithic site

According to the publications of M. Taylor, who undertook investigation of the Megaliths, it was evident that no Neolithic artefact or a site was discovered and reported in India till his publications of Megaliths appeared in 1851, 1852, and the one presented later to the Royal Irish Academy on May 12, 1862. The view of many scholars that the discovery of the first Neolith stone axe (celt) was made by Capt. Meadows Taylor at Lingsugur in Raichur in 1842 is not correct, says Mr. Patil.

The first-ever Neolithic habitation site or settlement was discovered in Bellary in Karnataka in 1872. It was William Fraser, a district engineer stationed at Bellary, who discovered the habitation in Bellary in the Tungabhadra valley. The finding was commended by Robert Bruce Foote, who is called as the "Father of Indian Pre-history."

Megalithic burials

Apart from the Neolithic artefacts, certain Megalithic structures were discovered in Kodagu in the closing parts of the 1860s. Capt. Robert A. Cole, who was the Superintendent of Coorg during 1869, investigated a number of Megalithic burial complexes covered on top with stone slabs in Veerarajenderpett (now Virajpet) in the district. They were earlier discovered by S.J.S. Mackenzie in and around Fraserpet (now Kushalnagar), Ramaswamy Kanive and Moorey Betta hills. Called as "cromlechs," according to him, they were traditionally associated with the Pandavas, the celestial heroes of the yore and the "Pundaras," a pigmy race, who were called in the Coorg dialect as "Pandu pare."

Capt. Cole undertook the typological analysis of these cromlechs by opening some of them. Antiques such as earthenware, pieces of bones, iron, bangles and charcoal were found inside the cromlechs, says Mr. Patil. A pot from a cromlech in Fraserpet had paddy husks while ragi was found in others.

A variety of miniature vessels identical to the larger ones noticed by Cole was discovered in Moorey Betta as well. Cole also investigated such cromlechs in the regions of Kolar some years later.

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