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Archaeologists unearth remains of ‘Sangam Age’ in a city near Madurai, Tamil Nadu

An eye-opening discovery by Archaeologists of a habitat, equal in size and importance to Mohenjo-daro.

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Excavation site. Image Source: www.frontline.in
  • A team of 10 archaeologists has been working in Keeladi since 2013 to unravel the remains of a habitation site
  • Keeladi,a small village with a population of around 5,000 people lies in the Sivaganga district of Tamil Nadu
  • Archaeologists have tentatively estimated that it dates back to 200 BCE, and believe it might be even older

“I could not believe my eyes when I saw all that came out of the ground. It has made Keeladi famous” exclaims Theiyvamma, a local women from Tamil Nadu. Archaeologists and researchers have unearthed the crumbling remains of a civilization, a civilization that stands parallel to Mohenjo-daro in size and importance.

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Keeladi,a small village with a population of around 5,000 people lies in the Sivaganga district of Tamil Nadu, 12 km from the city of Madurai. With the excavation of the site, which will eventually be referred to as the Vaigai River Valley Civilisation in the future, for the first time there are findings that will provide evidence that South India is a promising land for discovering ancient roots.

“It’s an eye-opening discovery, there’s no doubt that this was once a prosperous trade centre where elite people lived and worked,” said V Vedachalam, retired senior epigraphist of the Tamil Nadu Archaeological Department to Hindustan Times. Carbon dating is yet to be carried out in Keeladi but based on the script found in the areas, archaeologists have tentatively estimated that it dates back to 200 BCE, and believe it might be even older.

Madurai; Tamil Nadu; 16/06/2015. A well found at the ASI's excavation site at Keezhadi near Madurai on Tuesday. Photo; G. Moorthy
A well found at the ASI’s excavation site at Keezhadi near Madurai, Tamil Nadu on June 28. Image source: G. Moorthy

A team of 10 archaeologists has been working in Keeladi since 2013 to unravel the remains of a habitation site that provides evidence for the way of life described in ancient Sangam literature. There were a long list of challenges that the archaeologists had to face to reach the apex they stand at today such as securing permission to excavate parts of the zeroed in 8-10 potential sites for their excavation, lacking the resources to excavate indiscriminately and ameliorating the doubts of the landowners about property damage. By overcoming these and various other difficulties, the explored area today presents a rather startling sight to the first time visitor with 96 precisely cut square pits called quadrants, each 4 metres deep.

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Amongst the artifacts unearthed there are quaint chess pieces, a portion of an oven or a furnace, an enclosure which may have been used as a water tank, stone dice, quaint chess pieces, jagged chunks of semi-precious gems and some grooves in stone that appear to be an ancient drainage system. “One of the most remarkable discoveries that we’ve made are the remains of brick homes,” says Rajesh. “Being prohibitively expensive, bricks were not normally employed in civic structures in early history. They’re usually restricted to public spaces or houses of worship. This is a rare finding, especially significant when you consider how most other excavations in these parts have revealed only gravestones and cemeteries.”

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There have been many potshards that have been found on the site. Their inscription has been giving an insight to age-old history, there is one with an image of a fish inscribed, many of them have a design with ringed borders and then there are some with names. The fish has been predicted to depict the badge of a Pandya ruler whereas one of the names has been linked to trades with Sri Lanka. Similarly, the shards with ringed borders point towards trade with foreigners.

Discoveries of excavation. Image source: http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/beneath-the-city-archaeologists-discover-remains-of-sangam-age/story-20zsnWS1YR7KAdzewdgYRO.html
Discoveries of excavation. Image source: hindustantimes.com

Currently, such significant discoveries have been kept on display in a tent just by the corner of the site hence ASI has now applied for permission to establish a site museum. Two phases of excavation are almost completed with the 2nd phase ending in September. Looking at all the progress that unlocked century old history, the project might extend into a third phase. With astonishing new finds that deepens the understanding of our history, the Heritage and history of Keeladi, a tiny village is now under the spotlight.

-This article is compiled by a staff-writer at NewsGram.

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Archaeologists Excavate 800-year-old city wall in China

These were confirmed as dating to the period between 1127 and 1912 when the Southern Song Dynasty and later the Qing Dynasty was in power

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city wall
More than 300 relics and evidence that a complete defense system existed at the time have been unearthed in China (Representative image) Wikimedia

Beijing, October 15, 2017 : Archaeologists have excavated 800-year-old city walls and gates in China’s Chongqing. More than 300 relics and evidence that a complete defense system existed at the time have been unearthed.

A township in Fengjie county’s Baidi was once a very important military fortress. The archaeological dig launched at the site in February discovered the ruins, Xinhua news agency reported.

In the first six months, 20 sections of the city wall, gates, defence towers and armouries were found.

These were confirmed as dating to the period between 1127 and 1912 when the Southern Song Dynasty and later the Qing Dynasty was in power.

Over 300 relics, mainly iron weapons and some ceramic, copper and stone artifacts, have also been unearthed, Chongqing Cultural Heritage Research Institute said.

The project also identified the layout of Baidi. Other sites discovered outside the town have shown that a complete defence system existed at that time, archaeologists said.

The Cultural Heritage Research Institute of Chongqing and the Cultural Relic Management Office of Fengjie jointly conducted the excavations. (IANS)

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Humans reached Australia 65,000 Years Ago, About 15,000 Years Earlier than Previously Thought: Study

Researchers were also able to retrieve several tools in three different layers of sediment, including an ax, the oldest-known grindstone in Australia, and some early paints showing the oldest-known use of minerals

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Madjedbebe rockshelter
Madjedbebe rockshelter, Australia during the 2015 excavation. Wikimedia
  • The first settlers of Australia reached the continent 65,000 years ago, about 15,000 years earlier than experts previously thought
  • The archaeologists made the conclusion following an excavation at the Madjedbebe rock shelter near Kakadu National Park in northern Australia
  • The latest research included new techniques of analysis, like luminescence dating

Canberra, July 23, 2017: The first settlers of Australia reached the continent 65,000 years ago, about 15,000 years earlier than experts previously thought, a new archaeological study revealed on Thursday.

The archaeologists made the conclusion following an excavation at the Madjedbebe rock shelter near Kakadu National Park in northern Australia, one of the most important archaeological sites in the region known for its early rock paintings, reports Efe news.

The site was last excavated nearly 30 years ago by a group of archaeologists, who suggested that the site was between 50,000 and 60,000 years old, considered to be one of the first human settlements in Australia. Between 2012 and 2015, archaeologists returned to the site to conduct new excavations.

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The latest research included new techniques of analysis, like luminescence dating – which can determine when single grains of sand were last exposed to sunlight – allowing the research team to verify the age of the sediment surrounding the objects.

Researchers were also able to retrieve several tools in three different layers of sediment, including an ax, the oldest-known grindstone in Australia, and some early paints showing the oldest-known use of minerals.

“We found there was an incredible richness of evidence of wonderful human behaviour that we didn’t really have indications of from earlier excavations,” said Chris Clarkson, project leader from the University of Queensland.

Clarkson noted that the findings of his research, published on Thursday by the journal Nature, indicated a solid cultural continuity at the site across thousands of years. The archaeologist added that this discovery could also contribute to a better understanding of humans’ migration from Africa to Southeast Asia. (IANS)

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Ancient Chennakesava Temple Completes 900 Years

The ASI hasn't yet responded to the letter regarding the need to commemorate the 900th anniversary of the temple

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The Chennakesava temple turns 900 but no celebration takes place
Chennakesava temple turns 900 year old. Wikimedia
  • Chennakesava temple turns 900 years old this year
  • It was commissioned by the Hoysala king in 1117 CE
  • ASI hasn’t responded to the letter regarding the need to commemorate the 900th anniversary of the temple

New Delhi, July 15, 2017: Chennakesava temple, a real masterpiece and a fine example of Karnata-Dravida architecture, had its 900th anniversary this year. The temple completed 900 years of construction on March 10, However, the historic occasion was hardly marked by any celebration.

Vishnuvardhana, the Hoysala king commissioned the Chennakesava temple in 1117 CE. It has been established by the Researchers that the temple was built as a symbol of victory of King Vishnuvardhana. “Soon after winning a war in 1104, Vishnuvardhana took up the construction of the temple, and according to an inscription, the temple was ready by March 1117,” said Srivatsa Vati, a historian and an expert in Hoyasala architecture.

“It was Mr. Vati, who wrote to various departments, including the ASI, reminding them about the temple’s 900th anniversary and stressed the need to commemorate the occasion,” says The Hindu report.

Also read: 13 Beautiful Ancient Temples in India showcase Architectural Brilliance.

The Muzrai Department and Hassan district administration responded positively, however, no response has been received from the ASI yet. The temple management committee discussed a series of programs, in a meeting, in order to mark the 900th anniversary of the monument. Religious programs were held as per the suggestions, under the leadership of the priest of the temple. Seminars, a sculpture workshop, competitions for college students, and a State-level Bharatanatyam competition, as a part of a nine-day event, were also suggested by Mr. Vati.

Uma alias Muddamma, president of Belur Town Municipal Council, said that they are still in the process of figuring out what events could be conducted to celebrate the 900 years of Chennakeshwara temple. “On an average, more than 10,000 people visit the temple during weekends. We need funds to develop road infrastructure in the area in addition to improving amenities for visitors. We have submitted a memorandum to chief minister Siddaramaiah seeking funds for development of the town and are awaiting his reply,” He informed.

The Chennakeshava temple at Belur is a marvellous example of the Hoysala architecture and forms a crucial part of their legacy. It is indeed disappointing that the celebration of 900 years of the temple is not being given due importance.

The Chennakesava temple originally referred to as the Vijayanarayana temple is situated on the Yagachi River at Belur. It has also been proposed for the UNESCO World Heritage tag. The temple attracts a large number of tourists every year.

Prepared by Samiksha Goel of NewsGram. Twitter @goel_samiksha