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- 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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
By NewsGram Staff Writer
A veteran science historian has recently claimed that according to the artifacts discovered during the research of the Indus Valley Civilization, it was discovered that the Indus script is not a language but a numerical representation.
B.V. Subbaraayappa, a 90-year-old historian and a former president of the International Union of History & Philosophy of Science, said, “Attempts to decipher the Indus script were based on the assumption that a script should connote linguistic writing. There are many languages the world over without a script even today.”
The Indus Valley Civilisation was discovered by the Archeological Survey of India’s (ASI) director general John Marshall who later wrote about this discovery in “The Illustrated London News” in 1924.
Since then there are a number of mysteries associated with the civilization and one of them is language. The script became contentious due to different interpretations by linguists, historians and archaeologists the world over.
Subbarayappa stated that, “Over 4,000 seals and other inscribed artifacts were unearthed in the Indus Valley sites or the Harappa culture as archaeologists call it, and located in India and (now) Pakistan. They were used to meet the accounting needs of farm production and management.”
The script that was found had a unique and distinct characteristic features. The Indus Valley people had used the mathematical symbols like decimal, additive, multiplicative numerical system in their day-to-day occupations, which were primarily agriculture and animal husbandry.
Subbarayappa added, “The symbolic representation of six, four and two-rowed varieties of barley, wheat and cotton were depicted in the form of a composite animal – unicorn, a motif in about 1,100 seals, which were intended to be records of food grains (wheat & barley) and commodities (cotton).”
Buffalos, humped bulls and rhinos were also used for counting and making records associated with agriculture activity or production.
Subbarayappa recalled that, “The premise of the numerical hypothesis is that a language can be in vogue in the form of oral tradition long before it was scripted. For instance, the Vedic language did not have a script for over 1,000 years.”
Subbarayappa reiterated his argument by saying that, “Repetition of symbols twice, thrice and four times alongside on an Indus seal makes sense only in numeration and not in a language. Their presentation in a line mostly and occasionally in two or three lines on seals indicates numerical value than linguistic expression.”
As there is no outcome on the linguistic assumptions of Indus scripts and it is still in a blind alley, the science historian wants national institutions like the ASI, the Indian Council of Historical Research and the Indian National Science Academy to assess its numerical hypothesis in a scientific way.
Explaining the use of numerical in Indus culture, Subbarayappa concluded, “The large granaries at Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, 18 de-husking platforms, geometrically shaped streets and lanes, standard storage jars, bricks in 1:2:4 ratio and seals clearly indicate the role of numerals and their utilization by the Indus Valley people for over a long time.”