Deccan Chronicle

Keeladi was amazingly urban with open water channel, strainer

Deccan Chronicle | DC Correspondent

Published on: October 23, 2019 | Updated on: October 23, 2019

The rich find indirectly indicate the existence of well-developed and structured society.

Women workers at Keeladi excavation site on the banks of Vaigai river in Sivagangai district.  (DC)

Women workers at Keeladi excavation site on the banks of Vaigai river in Sivagangai district. (DC)

CHENNAI: The exposure of the open water channel, strainer/filter attached to terracotta pipes and spiral shaped terracotta pipes at the Keeladi excavation site on the banks of Vaigai River in Sivaganga district in the State, suggest that the Sangam Age people had the critical knowledge and technology of the water management system. The people of those times are far more urban and tech driven than thought of.

The rich find indirectly indicate the existence of well-developed and structured society. "The available evidences indicate the existence of urbanisation at Keeladi. The size of the settlement, internal and external trade contacts, advanced technology, industries, the existence of multi ethnic social groups, usage of multiple languages and scripts, level of literacy, art, usage of elite or luxury objects, brick structures and other cultural items are considered as characteristic features of urbanisation. Most of these characteristic features are exposed at Keeladi," says Commissioner of Archaeology T. Udayachandran.

The findings during the fifth phase of excavation at Keeladi, that was wrapped up on Oct. 13 after four months of intense digging, indicate the presence of advanced town planning and infrastructure including water management practices. According to the Department of Archaeology, Tamil Nadu, which is carrying out the excavation at Keeladi located near Madurai. Over 900 artefacts were unearthed during the this phase from about 51 pits that were dug up.

Pots of different sizes, ceramic shells with inscriptions and semi-precious, engraved stone were among the artefacts unearthed during the fifth phase of excavation.

During the excavation, an object having a rim-like portion of a pot was found at a depth of 47 cm in a trench. The rim portion is of red slipped ware and beautifully finished. It is found to be a beautifully made two terracotta pipes well-fitted with each other and the pipes measure 60 cm in length and 20 cm in diameter at the mouth.

"Each terracotta pipe had a five spiral-like projections at regular interval on its outer surface and looks like spiral-shaped terracotta pipes. The pipes fixed perfectly mouth to mouth suggest that they might have used to carry or drain water or any other liquid item," says TN Archaeology Department Deputy Director R. Sivanandam.

The mouth of the pipe had three holes, probably, to tie some objects at the mouth. The excavation extended horizontally close to the terracotta pipes. A few roof tiles vertically piled-up were also exposed at the depth of 52 cm. Besides, a brick structure also found close to the above said objects. Digging deeper, the archaeologists found that the terracotta pipes met with three more barrel-shaped terracotta pipes placed below the said pipes, which vary in shape and size, suggesting that they were used for different purposes.

A terracotta strainer (looks like perforated dish / bowl) was found at the mouth portion of the barrel-shaped terracotta pipes. Only three-fourth of the strainer was recovered. The placement of the strainer at the mouth of pipe clearly suggests that it might have been used to filter the unwanted material of the liquid that flew through these pipes.

Interestingly, another end of the pipe met at the mouth portion of two pots kept one above the other. The arrangement of the pipe, strainer/filter and two pots clearly indicates that some kind of liquid item or water would have passed though these pipes and collected in the pot.

Further, an open water channel made of brick was unearthed at the same site, at a depth of 50 cm. This brick structure measuring 5.80 m in length and 1.60 m in breadth that has been dexterously dug out, has eleven courses.

The floor of the water channel is paved with roof-tiles which felicitate the flow of the water. The significance of these structures is that the water channel and the brick structure were exposed to the south of the brick tank and water channel unearthed in the second seasons of the excavation carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India.

It suggests that the water channel is extending further south and its final position would be known in the future excavations.

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