Tamil Nadu

Adichanallur site gets its due, finally

Locals welcome move to set up onsite museum

The Finance Minister’s announcement that an onsite museum at Adichanallur to highlight the archaeological findings belonging to a civilised society that lived close to the Tamirabarani waterway between 905 BCE and 696 BCE has triggered euphoria here. People interested in resurrecting the facts about the civilisation feel that the Centre has finally understood the importance of the excavations.

Although excavations began at this site during colonial rule — between 1902 and 1903 — not much was done subsequently to tell the world about the Adichanallur civilisation. Even though burial urns with Tamil Brahmi script, coins, stone weapons, terracotta products, bangles and other utensils used by this ancient civilisation that lived in properly-formed streets were found accidentally at this site, excavation was not taken up by government agencies.

Report under wraps

After repeated appeals, an excavation was done in 2004 and 169 clay burial urns with skeletons were recovered in 2005, but the report was not made public for reasons best known to the Archaeological Survey of India. The artefacts collected from the spot were not sent for carbon data analysis and came in for sharp criticism by the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court later.

When the Centre’s eerie silence continued, writer Muthaalankurichi Kamarasu filed a case seeking direction to the Centre for tabling the report besides resuming excavation at the site. Moreover, the burial urns retrieved from Puliyankulam area should be showcased properly by setting up a museum, he had pleaded.

Mr. Kamarasu had prayed that proper survey and excavation should be done at nearby Sivakalai and in 37 places along the Tamirabarani watercourse.

On its part, the Manonmaniam Sundaranar University (MSU) had planned to play an active role in the archaeological exploration to be carried out at Aadhichanallur, Sivakalai and Authoor. The university, by using non-invasive strategies like deploying drones and geotechnology gadgets along with its faculty members from geotechnology, biotechnology, Tamil and history departments in these places for the exploration activities to unearth the ancient history and culture buried under.

“Since we are sitting pretty close to these archaeological hotspots, we are planning to start postgraduate and research programmes in archaeology besides creating a ‘Heritage Centre and Museum’ on the main campus at Abhishekapatti to showcase our 3,000-year-old history and culture to the younger generation,” says K. Pitchumani, Vice-Chancellor, MSU.

S. Sudhakar of the department of biotechnology at MSU, who makes frequent visits to the archaeological sites of Adichanallur, Sivakalai and Korkai, said it was a great moment. “The Centre’s decision to establish the museum at Adichanallur will go a long way in proceeding with the excavation at this ancient civilisation site,” he said.

Meanwhile, the State government, after getting the Union government’s nod, had commenced survey on 114 acres at Adichanallur by a 10-member team from Friday (January 31) onwards. To begin with, the team had chosen an area measuring about 500 metres into 500 metres where the excavation was likely to be done. With the help of a radar mounted on a drone, the team, after clearing the thorny bushes on this site, surveyed the area for possible metals lying under the surface. Similar survey was being done at Sivakalai.

“Even as the survey had begun for excavation, the Centre has decided to set up a museum at Adichanallur at least now, which would tell the world about the ancientness of Tamils and their civilisation. The carbon dating conducted on the products recovered from this site in Florida labs had proved that it was at least 2,900-year-old civilization. If the excavations are done properly, the world will be surprised to see how advanced ancient Tamils’ life was,” says Mr. Kamarasu.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2020 9:08:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/adichanallur-site-gets-its-due-finally/article30716873.ece

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