State Minister for School Education, Sports and Youth Welfare, K. Pandiarajan, on Monday promised all possible help from the State government for the continuation of the excavation being carried out by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) at Keezhadi in Sivaganga district.
Mr. Pandiarajan, along with Minister for Khadi and Village Industries Board, G. Baskaran, inspected the site on Monday.
Their visit comes close on the heels of a public interest litigation petition filed in the Madras High Court against moving the artefacts discovered at the 3rd century BC urban settlement to the ASI office in Bengaluru.
The State government has also evinced interest in setting up a site museum at Keezhadi to display the 5,300 antiquities that have been unearthed so far and has even offered to allot 72 cents of land for the same.
However, K. Amarnath Ramakrishnan, Superintending Archaeologist, ASI, said that the excavation was at a very early stage and there was a long way to go before the site museum could be set up. “Keezhadi is a discovery to prove wrong all claims that Tamil Nadu did not have any urban settlement during the Sangam period. The brick structure with proper drainage system per se is a new revelation. Nowhere in Tamil Nadu have so many antiquities been discovered,” he said.
Excavation on 110 acres
The ASI has proposed to conduct excavation on 110 acres of private land close to the Vaigai river. “In the last two years, we have completed less than two per cent of the total excavation. We have to do it for at least 10 years,” he said, expressing confidence that many more significant discoveries would be made.
“All the antiquities need to be stored only in the ASI office in Bengaluru for further processing like carbon dating and preparing the reports before the actual process for setting up a museum could be taken up,” he said. Stating that he was custodian of all the artefacts, Mr. Ramakrishna said that he could hand them over to the State government after going through all the required procedures.