Nod for further excavation at Keezhadi

₹50 lakh allocation sought for current year to continue work at the historical site

Published - February 21, 2017 12:40 am IST - CHENNAI

After a delay of six months, the Central government has granted permission to continue the excavation in Keezhadi, where archaeologists have unearthed the biggest habitation of Sangam era, dated between 300 BC and 1000 AD.

“We received the permission on Monday from the Director General of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the fund is yet to be allocated. We have sought for ₹50 lakh for the current year,” said K. Amarnath Ramakrishna, Superintending Archaeologist (Excavation Branch), Bengaluru, who is heading the project in Keezhadi, close to Madurai city, but in Sivaganga district of Tamil Nadu.

The letter from the ASI headquarters on Monday said the annual interim report of the work done comprising relevant section drawings, stratigraphy and important findings with illustrations should be submitted immediately after the completion of the work.

“All antiquities unearthed during the excavation will be documented at the site in National Mission on Monuments and Antiquities (NMMA) 3D format, available at the website of NMMA,” the letter said.

Funds for excavation are normally allotted in October of every year. But in the case of Keezhadi, the government did not grant permission last year; but continuous efforts by political leaders and writers resulted in the Centre giving its nod. The issue was raised in Parliament by CPI(M) MP T.K.Rangarajan and DMK MPs Tiruchi N. Siva and Kanimozhi.

“It is a matter of great joy. The credit should go to all political leaders and writers who put pressure on the government,” said writer Su. Venkatesan, who spearheaded the campaign for continuous excavation.

Mr. Ramakrishnan said his team had submitted an interim report of the excavation. “We have unearthed 5,800 artefacts from what is considered to be a city from the Sangam Age. But we need to continue the work at least for the next 10 years to know about a civilisation that had existed for many centuries,” he said. ASI’s excavation has covered only an acre of about 110 acre private land and there is a need to study more areas. “We have not even covered one per cent of the total land. It is a private land but the owners have not raised any objection so far. We are doing our work without affecting the coconut trees,” said Mr. Ramakrishnan.

CPI(M) State secretary G. Ramakrishnan also welcomed the permission for excavation and urged the government to create an exhibition of artefacts unearthed from the site. “The excavation should be allowed to continue till the ASI gets a clear idea about the civilisation by the side of Vaigai river near Madurai,” he said.

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