Tamil Nadu

Excavations reveal existence of thriving port town in Sangam era

An ox head figurine found during the excavation.— Photo: R.M. Rajarathinam.  

Based on the findings unearthed during an archaeological excavation at Mandripattinam fishing hamlet in Thanjavur district, experts from the Department of Maritime History and Marine Archaeology of the Tamil University here posit the existence of a flourishing port town there during the Sangam era (Third Century Before Common Era to Third Century Common Era) and the Middle Chola period (850 to 1,250 Common Era).

Sharing the information gleaned at the excavation expedition centred around Mandripattinam with The Hindu , director of excavation S. Rajavelu said that three shallow trenches with depth ranging from 50 to 100 cm were dug at specific spots in Mandripattinam , that has just about 100 families, with expert assistance from the Department of Earth Sciences, Bharathidasan University.

Further, four trenches were dug at Sendhalaipattinam, one km north of Mandripattinam, and one in Subbamma Chatram on the outskirts of Mandripattinam in July and August. All the areas are close to Adirampattinam in Thanjavur district.

One of the trenches at Sendhalaipattinam yielded eight Ceylon Man type copper coins of the Middle Chola vintage. A silver Pana coin belonging to the Vijayanagar Empire was also found in a trench there, according to Mr. Rajavelu.

The excavators were pleasantly surprised to stumble on a square lead coin having punch marks of an elephant on the obverse and a bow on the reverse side. Experts opine that these finding indicate the existence of a thriving port town during the beginning of the Common Era. The trenches in all the spots also yielded more than 600 tiny semi precious stones of various types and hues. Stunningly, several of the mustard-sized stones had still smaller hole in them to allow thread to form a necklace. A piece of a pretty thin metal string was also recovered nearby revealing the astute and intricate hand craft ability of the artisans of the yonder age.

There was also a terracotta figurine of an ox head and a snake hood dating back to the medieval period among the recoveries at the trenches. At Sendhalaipattinam, the excavators also found the remnants of a mud wall at the floor level, a huge water pot and an indigenous water purifying system using a series of pipes for at least 10 feet. A piece of core gold and a broke part of gold jewellery were part of the artefacts recovered from that hamlet, Mr. Rajavelu said.

The team recalled the guidance and assistance extended by the Archaeological Society of India and Tamil University Vice-Chancellor G. Bhaskaran in conducting the excavations. Apart from the Tamil University, the team had students of History from AVVM Sri Pushpam College, Poondi, HH The Rajah’s College, Pudukkottai, AVC College, Mannampandal, and Arignar Anna Government Arts College, Musiri.

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Printable version | Nov 30, 2021 1:34:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/excavations-reveal-existence-of-thriving-port-town-in-sangam-era/article7639595.ece

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