Kerala

Prehistoric relics point to riverine settlement at Attappady 

Researcher A.D. Manikandan examining an inscription at Ezhuthupara, Attappady.

Researcher A.D. Manikandan examining an inscription at Ezhuthupara, Attappady.

The discovery of several prehistoric artefacts and archaeological remains along the banks of three rivers flowing through the Attappady hills straddling Kerala and Tamil Nadu, indicating the presence of a mature settlement, has surprised researchers and local people alike.

The discovery of several stone tools, inhabited caves, menhirs, cists or burial chambers, stone circles, burial urns, black and red ware pottery, terracotta images, stone carvings, and granite inscriptions points to prehistoric human settlements in the predominantly tribal area of Attappady.

The archaeological discoveries were made from different places along the banks of the rivers Bhavani, Siruvani, and Kodumkara Pallam or Anakkatti recently. The remains came to light during an extensive post-doctoral study undertaken by economist A.D. Manikandan among the tribal communities of Attappady.

However, over the years, many of the prehistoric artefacts have been destroyed and damaged by the local people, unaware of the region’s ancient past. Although there were dozens of granite menhirs, some up to 20 feet tall, only a few remain intact. Tellingly, one of the tribal settlements at Kottathara is called Nattakkallu Ooru (meaning a hamlet of menhirs), where all but one 11-ft menhir have been destroyed.

“No one bothered to go back into the history of Attappady. What amazes me is that this tribal land known only for its penury, sufferings, exploitation and land-grabbing has had a marvelous civilization to boast of. Interestingly, innumerable relics were found from both sides of the rivers flowing through Attappady,” said Dr. Manikandan, whose two-volume book on the pre-historic life and culture of Attappady is set to be published shortly.

This reporter found cist burial sites and shards of black and red pottery widely scattered on both sides of Kodumkara Pallam. The river marks the border between Kerala and Tamil Nadu with Attappady on the western bank.

Black and red polished earthen ware with different patterns were also discovered in recent weeks from a private land at Anakkatti in Sholayur grama panchayat. “We were surprised by the findings. We want the Archaeology department to study it,” Sholayur panchayat president P. Ramamoorthy told The Hindu.

Researcher A.D. Manikandan examining one of the last remaining menhirs at Nattakkallu Ooru at Attappady.

Researcher A.D. Manikandan examining one of the last remaining menhirs at Nattakkallu Ooru at Attappady. | Photo Credit: LATHEEF NAHA

A team of researchers led by P.V. Mohammed Kutty has approached the Indian Institute of Geomagnetism, Mumbai, and the Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences, Lucknow, for radiocarbon dating of the relics. “We can’t just blindly reach an assumption without scientific studies. We can only say for sure now is that Attappady is a treasure trove of culture and civilization,” said Dr. Mohammed Kutty.


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Printable version | Sep 5, 2022 9:38:14 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/prehistoric-relics-reveal-attappadys-ancient-past/article65282602.ece