Hitherto undiscovered remnants from the historic port town of Alamparai are now in public view.
The unearthed artefacts are on display at the Tamil Nadu Department of Archaeology.
R. Vasanthi, commissioner in-charge, state department of archaeology, said though it was a limited excavation, the focus was on confirming the existence of a mint which, in early literature, was referred to as ‘akkasalai’ or a state mint.
“We also wanted to trace the trade relations and socio-economic scenario of the period. The most crucial findings were the coin moulds and crucibles dated between 17 C.E. and 18 C.E., though we were not able to find any coins itself,” she said, adding that porcelain, canon balls, necked bottles of the British period, smoking pipes and amulets, all belonging to the 17 C.E. and 18 C.E. were found
S. Gurumurthy, retired professor, ancient history and archaeology, Madras University, who was present at the exhibition, said the excavations establish the town’s position as both a port and a fort town.
“The porcelain items which have been found came from outside the country, and establish its position as a trading town. The dailies of the 17 C.E. and 18 C.E. make several mentions of political contact between the rulers of Alamparai and Pondicherry and it is also reffered to as ‘Alampuravi’ in archival records,” he said, adding that the iron nails and pieces reflect their knowledge of metallurgy.
J, Ranjith, archaeologist, who was part of the team said that they also got lead bullet shards and ammunition. Alamparai, 106 kilometres from Chennai, has seen Mughal, French and British presence.
While the excavation was carried out within the premises of the fort, starting January, areas such as Alamparai Village, Vembanur, Idaikkalinadu and Nallur were surveyed in December.
“The presence of crucibles, coin moulds and slags, are indicative of the activity of coin-making and the smelting of metals and glass for manufacturing of utensils,” said Ms. Vasanthi.
The excavation was carried out by a team of 15 experts and was lead by V. Ramamurthy, excavation archaeologist. Over 200 antiquities were excavated, she said, adding that the documentation process was underway. “The report would be completed within two months,” she said. The exhibition is open till September 28 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.