Skeletal remains of another child were excavated at Konthagai as part of the sixth phase of ongoing excavations in the ancient site of Keeladi. The child’s skeleton was located only around 0.5 metres from the remains of the first child which were found on June 19.
Deputy Director of Archaeology and in-charge of the excavations R. Sivanandam said it was found around two weeks ago because of its proximity to the skeleton of the first child. It was 95 cm in height and located about one metre below ground. This too, like in the case of the first child they found, was a surface burial, he said.
It took the team around 10 days to expose the remains carefully. “Skeletons can be cleaned only if there is no direct exposure to sunlight. Otherwise, it may affect the DNA samples. We have been utilising our time between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m., and 5.30 p.m. and 7 p.m. and covering the area above with a black tarp to ensure that the DNA of the skeletal remains can be collected properly and sent to Madurai Kamaraj University for analysis,” he said. It would be premature to speak about the sex of the two children, he added.
Unlike the skeletal remains of the first child whose skull was crushed, the second child’s skull, teeth and face were all intact, said a source involved in the excavation.
Konthagai village, which is part of the sixth phase of excavations at Keeladi, is said to be a burial site. A source from the Archaeology Department said they had found two urns with remains near the skeletons apart from the remains of animals and adults in the area.
“This proves that different types of burials had taken place in Keeladi. There was an institutional lifestyle and a specific place for the dead to be buried. Some were buried in urns, others just under the surface,” the source said.
Recently four weighing stones of varying sizes made out of basalt were found at Keeladi as part of the excavation.