Tamil Nadu

Iron Age in T.N. began 4,200 years ago, says Chief Minister

Chief Minister M.K. Stalin addressing the Assembly on Monday.

Chief Minister M.K. Stalin addressing the Assembly on Monday.

Excavations carried out by the Tamil Nadu Department of Archaeology at Mayiladumparai in Krishnagiri district have placed the beginning of the Iron Age in Tamil Nadu 4,200 years Before Present (BP) or 2200 BCE (Before Common Era), Chief Minister M.K. Stalin said in a suo motu statement in the Assembly on Monday.

Separately, the Department released a report, ‘Mayiladumparai - Beginning of Agrarian Society; 4,200-year-old Iron Age Culture in Tamil Nadu’, detailing the findings.

In his foreword to the report, the Chief Minister said the time of the introduction of iron technology in Tamil Nadu had been eluding archaeologists and scientists. “Now, the answer is achieved in concrete terms with the evidence found at Mayiladumparai. The amalgamation of evidence unearthed at Mangadu and Thelungaur in the Mettur taluk of Salem district and today’s scientific date obtained for the samples at Mayiladumparai clearly placed the introduction of iron in Tamil Nadu 4,200 years ago,” he said.

The cultural items unearthed during the excavations revealed that the site had survived since the Neolithic period till the historical period. Microlithic, Neolithic, Iron Age, Early Historic and Historic are the five cultural sequences identified based on ceramics, iron objects, rock art, memorial stones and inscriptions, the report said.

Three rock shelters with rock paintings were also found. The paintings were done invariably with white and red pigments. “The red pigment is superimposed with white pigment, indicating an earlier date to the red pigment. The non-occurrence of any habitation material in the rock shelter suggests that these are executed on some special occasions,” the report said.

The findings at the site were sent to Beta Analytic, a radiocarbon dating lab in Florida, for analysis. The findings yielded two important Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) dates that provided a clue to understanding the introduction of iron and the transformation of the late Neolithic phase to the early Iron Age. The two dates yielded the mid-range calibrated dates of 1615 BCE and 2172 BCE. Based on these, it was assessed that iron first appeared in Tamil Nadu as early as in 2200 BCE.

“The late Neolithic phase was identified before 2200 BCE as there is a cultural deposit of 25 cm below the dated level. The black-red-red ware was introduced in the late Neolithic phase itself, in contrast to the wider belief that the black-and-red ware was introduced in the Iron Age,” the report said.

The Chief Minister also announced that the Department of Archaeology would undertake excavations at Pattanam in Kerala, Thalakkadu in Karnataka, Vengi in Andhra Pradesh and Palur in Odisha. Excavations will begin at Korkai this month.

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Printable version | Jun 16, 2022 11:37:52 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/iron-age-in-tn-began-4200-years-ago-says-chief-minister/article65398242.ece