Keezhadi excavation: MKU, Harvard University to collaborate in DNA study

Bones excavated from Keeladi, Konthagai and Adichanallur excavation sites to be studied

Updated - September 26, 2019 10:30 am IST

Published - September 26, 2019 12:09 am IST - MADURAI

Carbon dating of artefacts collected at Keeladi has revealed that urbanisation of Vaigai plains had happened in Tamil Nadu around the 6th century BCE.

Carbon dating of artefacts collected at Keeladi has revealed that urbanisation of Vaigai plains had happened in Tamil Nadu around the 6th century BCE.

State Department of Archaeology will enter into a tripartite memorandum of understanding with Madurai Kamaraj University and Harvard Medical School to take up ancient DNA study of human bones excavated or to be excavated from Keeladi, Konthagai and Adichanallur sites in Tamil Nadu.

Principal Secretary/Commissioner of Department of Archaeology T. Udhyachandran said that a tripartite MoU would be signed among the Department of Archaeology, MKU and David Reich Laboratory of Harvard Medial School to carry out the study.

Carbon dating of artefacts collected during the fourth season of excavation at Keeladi done at Beta Analytic Lab, Miami, USA, has revealed that urbanisation of Vaigai plains had happened in Tamil Nadu around the 6th century BCE as happened in Gangetic plains.

The State Department of Archaeology has already collected skeletal fragments from Keeladi and Adichanallur.

“We are hopeful of finding more human bones in our future excavations at Konthagai, Keeladi and Adichanallur. These samples will be sent for ancient DNA study. It will predominantly reveal what kind of gene was in the human bones excavated/ to be excavated in Tamil Nadu,” he said.

The School of Biological Sciences at the MKU will be the collaborator for the Department of Archaeology on taking up the ancient DNA study, remote sensing of the sites and study of data. “We are collaborating with the best institutions in the world,” he added.

David Reich was involved in the study of ancient DNA from the samples from Rakhigarhi site of Harappan civilisation, the report of which was published recently. Retired Professor of School of Biological Sciences RM. Pitchappan, who has been roped in to coordinate in ancient DNA study, said that archaeologists, linguistics, anthropologists and experts in ancient DNH would come together to carry out this study.

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