Excavation planned in Kaprikkad

Tools recovered from the Kaprikkad forest area recently.-PHOTO: BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Tools recovered from the Kaprikkad forest area recently.-PHOTO: BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT  

The State Department of Archaeology has decided to excavate certain parts of the 200-acre Kaprikkad forests, close to the popular tourist haunt Kodanad, after preliminary explorations in the area revealed the presence of tools that could date back to the Neolithic period or up to 4,000 BC.

“We are applying for excavation licence from the Archaeological Survey of India in August”, said an official of the Department of Archaeology, which will also seek clearance from the Forests and Wildlife Department for the proposed excavation works.

The official said around a hundred stone tools, including knives and points, internationally recognisable, were discovered in the area marked out for excavation and located close to the southern bank of the Periyar.

The tools, identified as being made of dyke dolerite, had heavy flake scars and were coated with layers of mud. Only on scrapping off of the mud did the shape of the tools emerge, said the official. These tools will be examined by experts on Neolithic stone tools for final confirmation.

“This is the first time that we have come across stone tools of such vintage in the primary context,” said the official, who pointed out that the area marked out for excavation might have been a habitation 4,000 to 5,000 years ago.

The stone tools were found on a mount within the Kaprikkad forests. The elevated area of the discovery is a stone formation, which by a geologist’s assessment, is the result of tectonic activities spread between 65 and 650 million years.

The Archaeology Department official said that discoveries from the excavation site could throw light on the transition of the area from the Neolithic to the Megalithic periods. His hunch is based on the earlier discovery of chamber burial sites at Puliyanippara, close to the area marked out for excavation.

Though there were hundreds of the burial chambers or dolmen in the area, most were taken apart by people in the locality. Stones from the burial site were broken down to build compound walls or other structures, said P. Prakash, president of Periyar, an NGO which had worked on local history and planned to set up a village museum at Aalattuchira.

The Archaeology Department official said that microliths made of quartz were recovered from some of the dolmen which were intact. Microliths of quartz from the area had been confirmed as such by archaeologists, the official added.

He said that preliminary exploration of the Periyar basin since 2007 had yielded stone tools. Together with these discoveries, the presence of what are believed to be early Medieval temple remains in the neighbouring Mulamkuzhi, Kottappara and riverine island Vembooram within the Thundam Forest Range has created a lot of enthusiasm among local history buffs.

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