Promising initial finds spurs more interest in the site north of Chennai  

Encouraged by the initial findings during trial trenches in the Fort area at Pulicat, north of the city, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has planned a detailed excavation in other parts of the mound, hoping to unravel the antiquarian origins of the site. 

The ASI has written to the Tamil Nadu government for acquiring 11 acres on lease as no archaeological excavation has so far been done in this area. “The aim is to study the cultural sequence of the site and identify the layout of Fort Geldira and its remains. We will team up with the Geological Department of Anna University for GPS mapping,” said G. Maheswari, Superintending Archeologist, ASI, Chennai Circle.

She said the cleaning of the mound started in February this year and  materials recovered from the Fort area, built by the Dutch in 1612, suggested that it had multi-cultural  artefacts datable between 11 CE to 18 CE. The antiques found during the excavation were quite varied and fairly representative of almost all conceivable materials of the day.

It included copper coins, the nob of a lid, bell, bronze coat button and chain, broken pieces of iron, terracotta figurine, spouts, hopscotch, smoking pipes and glass bangles, beads and copper beads. The embossed seal impression of foreign origin on the smoking pipes (china clay) indicates that they might have been imported. “But, it is yet to be ascertained,” Ms. Maheswari said.

The Fort is square with bastion at the corners, and its curtain walls are built of brick and laterite with lime mortar. The most impressive structure is the gate to the cemetery, now under the ASI’s control.

 A ‘ring well’ was exposed on the northern side of the moat. It has three courses of terracotta rings and a number of ‘ring well pieces.’ Further, two glass beads were collected near the well.  Ms. Maheswari said the pottery assemblage of the Fort could be classified into two categories. In the first category are red wares (associated with thin variety of celadon ware), which are chronologically earlier in date.  The second category comes from foreign wares (imported from China, Thai and Arab countries) like Zhangzhou (blue colour under glaze looks dark gray), Jindezhen (blue and white). Guangdong, Fugian ware and Islamic ware were found in the first four layers. Overall, it promises to be a very exciting prospect for the ASI. 

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