Tamil Nadu

New finds link Azhagankulam site to Sangam era

Excavation work by the Department of Archaeology at Azhagankulam near Ramanathapuram on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: L. Balachandar

The State archaeology department, in renewed excavation at Azhagankulam in the Vaigai river valley near here, has collected more than 12,000 artefacts and found archaeological evidence to show that the site could date back to the Sangam age, quite like the archaeological site at Keezhadi in Sivaganga district.

The department, which had made 24 excavations in the village, spread out over seven seasons since 1984, embarked on a comprehensive excavation in the eighth season on May 9, including the Azhagankulam Government Higher Secondary School premises. A 5 ft tall brick chamber was unearthed, besides a variety of artefacts after digging 52 trenches.

Some of the antiquities and vestiges retrieved from the site such as ivory objects, semi-precious stone beads, copper coins, silver punch-marked coins, carnelian, quartz, crystals, amethyst, arretine wares, amphorae, furnace and iron smelters threw light on the lifestyle and socio-cultural activities of ancient Tamils, said J. Baskar, project director.

The State archaeology department already has enough evidence to show that the coastal village had functioned as an important trading post between the Sangam Pandyas and the Romans, he told The Hindu.

Sawed conches

“Nakkeerar, the medieval Tamil poet from Madurai, had mentioned about the profession of conch sawing in Sangam literature and we have retrieved hundreds of sawed conches and furnace from the site, which could link the site to the Sangam age,” he says.

The department had unearthed the evidence after digging trenches in less than one acre of the more than 200 acre site and a comprehensive excavation could throw up more surprises, he said.

The unearthing of the brick chamber at the school premises was a significant finding, he added. The 1.25 metre square and 5 feet tall chamber was used by ancient Tamils to store seeds and 150 gm of seeds of an unknown crop had been retrieved, he said. The chamber had been removed brick by brick after numbering them so that it could be reconstructed, he added.

All the artefacts retrieved from the site – the broken Roman amphora jars, Mediterranean pottery, embossed Roman potsherds, copper coins, Chinese celadon ware, rouletted ware, black, red and grey potsherds, roofing tiles and terracotta plates – were being numbered and photographed for documentation, K. Sakthivel, Excavator, said.

A team of research scholars supervised the excavation and the department would end the eighth season of excavation by the end of this month. The excavation was taken up at a total outlay of ₹55 lakh and the department had dug 52 trenches – 16 inside the school premises and 36 at Kottaimedu (mound) area – he added.

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Printable version | Sep 16, 2021 5:52:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/new-finds-link-azhagankulam-site-to-sangam-era/article19459679.ece

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