Chennai: Pots of different sizes, ceramic shells with inscriptions and a semi-precious stone (carnelian) engraved in the shape of a pig and inscribed potsherds were among over 900 artefacts unearthed during the fifth phase excavation in Keeladi village in Sivagangai district. The fifth phase, lasting four months, was completed on Sunday.
A major finding was the continuation of brick structures. The TN archaeology department has sought permission from the Central Advisory Board of Archaeology (CABA) for the sixth phase excavation in cluster villages — Manalur, Konthagai and Agaram — of Keeladi. The civilisation that existed in Keeladi might have spread to Manalur and Agaram villages. An ancient burial site might also existed at Konthagai.
Archaeologists researching Keeladi excavations say the artefacts and graffiti symbols seem pretty similar to the signs seen in the Indus Civilisation excavations. They also say that the Tamils of the Sangam period were literate, as early as 6th century BCE.
Artefacts found at the site, about 12 km from Madurai, push back the date of Tamil-Brahmi another century i.e. 6th century BCE. These results clearly ascertained that they attained literacy or learned the art of writing as early as 6th century BCE.
The report released by the Tamil Nadu Archeological Department on Sept. 19, explained the significance of the finding and said the recovery of 1,001 graffiti sherds from Keeladi excavation recalled the preliminary writing expressions of the Iron Age people.
The script that survived between the disappearance of Indus script and the emergence of Brahmi script is called as graffiti marks by the scholars. These graffiti marks are the ones evolved or transformed from Indus script and served as a precursor for the emergence of the Brahmi script.
During the fifth phase which had commenced on June 13, archaeologists dug up 51 trenches in a shorter span of time compared to the activity in the fourth phase. Intermittent rain and thousands of visitors, who had flocked to the excavation site on the banks of Vaigai river, had interrupted the digging activity. The state archaeology department had sought and obtained an extension of 13 days for the fifth season.
Over 1.25 lakh people had visited the site and the number of daily visitors rose steeply after the state government released a detailed report on the fourth phase. Owing to unprecedented crowds, the archaeology department had to restrict visitors’ time....