The Tamil Nadu Department of Archaeology has declared five ‘menhir’ (single stone) and megalithic burial sites at Kodumanal in Erode district as protected monuments.
It has recently placed two noticeboards at the sites, announcing a ban on mining and construction in a 200-metre radius.
Kodumanal, located on the northern banks of the Noyyal and about 42 km from Erode, made it to the archaeology map in 1961 when the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) started the first dig after noticing antique materials scattered across the barren land of the village.
Since 1985, 10 seasons of excavations have been carried out on nearly 25 acres of private and poramboke land. Semi-precious stone beads, bangles, copper, silver, iron, and terracotta are among the items unearthed during the excavations conducted by the ASI as well as the State Department of Archaeology.
Potsherds containing names inscribed in Tamil-Brahmi script were found in a large number, apart from Roman silver coins, precious stones and quartz. These findings showed that an industrial and trade centre had existed here about 2,300 years ago. The last excavation, led by J. Ranjith, Archaeology Officer and Project Director for the excavation during which a structure similar to a stepwell was unearthed, concluded on September 30, 2021.
In the 2021 Budget, the State government announced that Kodumanal would be declared a protected archaeological site. A preliminary notification was issued then. On November 30, 2022, the government notified five sites — menhir (standing stone) on government poramboke ‘vandi pathai’ (a cart track) to the extent of 0.20 hectare to 0.34 hectare; a habitation site on 2.4 hectares of PWD land; two megalithic burial sites on 2.5 hectares and 2.68 hectares of PWD land respectively; and a megalithic burial site on 2.3 hectares of government land (‘natham’).
A recent government order declared the sites protected monuments. A team from the Archaeology Department visited the village and installed two noticeboards: one near the menhir and the other outside a burial site on the PWD land. Three more noticeboards will be placed soon, sources said.
The announcement on the boards says these are the monuments of historical importance under Tamil Nadu Act 25, of 1966, and warns people against destroying, removing or misusing them, and against mining or construction in the areas marked out.