Friday, June 3, 2016

Harappa-like structure found in Tamilnadu is not archaeological garbage.

Many readers might have read in the news papers about the excavation of a massive urban structure at Keezhadi (Keeladi) on the banks of River Vaigai  in Sivaganga district of Tamilnadu.

What provoked me to write this article under the above caption is that this discovery is being ridiculed by Western people who consider themselves as scholars in Indology with known AIT leanings.  

Under the caption Archaeological garbage being fed the Indian public, a report goes as follows:

Here are two more instances of the steady stream of politicized fake-archaeological garbage constantly being fed the Indian people through the popular press. 
These from the last few days:

1. Report on “Harappa-like” site supposedly found in Tamil Nadu, reported in the _Times of India_ two days ago: 

"Harappa-like site surfaces in Tamil Nadu”

The motivation? The old ridiculous political claims of links between Tamil culture (in the deep south east, starting in the 1st millennium BCE) with Indus culture (in the far north west, which disappeared long before, in the early second millennium BCE)

Dates of the “Harappa-like” site, which has yielded no artifacts (like seals) that look Harappan? Late first millennium BCE, when evidence of urbanization was widespread throughout India.
It is obvious that the writer of this piece, Mr Steve Farmer had not read the TOI report properly, for the report clearly quotes the words of the Superintending archaeologist Mr K. Amarnath Ramakrishna, that “It could be a huge urban settlement of independent civilisation on the banks of the Vaigai”

The report further goes on to say that the discovery lends credence to Sangam age poetic descriptions. Nowhere in the report is the discovery linked to the Indus civilisation or Harappa. Mr Farmer had perhaps read the title alone which says that it is Harappa-like and formed his own (as usual) biased notion about the ‘motivation’ of Indian archaeologists.

The Harappa-like in the title refers to the huge size and organised urban culture that is evidenced in the excavations. The finds are spread over a region of 80 acres and are as huge as the ones found in Harappa or Mohenjo-Daro.  

Another report of the same excavation (produced at the end of this article) quotes the archaeologists working on this site as saying that the drainage system found in Keezhadi excavations is similar to what was found in Harappan civilization site.

In this context readers must note that massive under water streets and enclosures were described in Silappadhikaram. They were built under the moat-water and were huge enough for elephants to move.

"இளை சூழ்மிளையொடு வளைவுடன் கிடந்த
இலங்கு நீர்ப் பரப்பின்  வலம்புணரகழியில்
பெருங்கை யானை இன நிரை பெயரும்
சுருங்கை வீதி…"
{Silappadhikaram chapter 14 – lines 62 to 65)

Meaning: Surrounded by security guards, the winding moat had underground (under water) streets that were huge enough for groups of elephants to cross over (to the city and / or outside).
This description resembles the corbelled drain system of the Great Bath of Mohenjo-Daro. Picture produced below.

The Silappadhikaram description of underwater streets must have been wider than this outlet found in Mohenjo-Daro. This goes to show that a far advanced masonry was present throughout India – with no division of North / Indus region or South / Tamil region. Signs of such masonry are also noticed in Keezhadi that are comparable with Indus findings. This makes them Harappa- like and not Harappan – something Mr Farmer is confused about.

However we must thank Mr Farmer for his observation that urbanisation was widespread throughout India in the late First Millennium BCE. The collapse of the Indus civilisation was not far behind that period as it has been widely accepted now that the civilisation, or rather the signs of occupation of the Indus sites of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro ended by 1500 BCE.

However a migration did happen from the Indus civilisation, but of a specific group of people from Dwaraka region of Gujarat to Tamil lands which covered parts of present day Karnataka and whole of Kerala. The Keezhadi region does not come under the segments that were occupied by those migrants, but there is a possibility of cowherd people (Yadavas / Aayars) settling down around Madurai and on the farther regions of the Pandyan Kingdom.

To the discomfort of Mr Farmer, let me also say that the first known migration took place 5000 years ago from Mathura region on the banks of river Yamuna, to Madurai of Pandyans. A group of 365 families from Mathura region were shifted to Madurai at the instance of Krishna, the king of Dwaraka who wanted these groups from his native place to serve his daughter born of “Nappinnai” originally known as “Upakesi”, a native of Tamil lands. The daughter of Krishna born of Nappinnai was called “Pandaiya”. (Read my article). She was settled down in Madurai which was then a temple town by name “Irunthaiyur”. (Read here).  The deity of this town is Koodalazhagar whose temple continues to be there in Madurai even today.

At that time, Madurai was not the Capital city of Pandyans. It was Kavaatam which is now submerged and which was located on the south side of Kollam (Kerala) in the Indian Ocean.  From Silappadhikaram we come to know that this group of 365 families of cowherds were supplying milk to the king’s family in turns throughout the year.

The Keezhadi discovery is currently dated at 3rd century BCE. That was the time of Pandyan Nedumchezhiyan of Madurai Kanchi fame. (Read here). His contemporary was “Aadu kotpattu cheraladhan in Chera lands.(Read here).   He only brought the Nilgiri Tahr – the Mesha goat from Vindhyas. (Read here). Today this species is extinct in Vindhyas but is preserved in Munnar in Kerala. The reason for giving all these details is to show that the civilisation was far advanced in Tamil speaking lands at the first millennium of the BCE. The Keezhadi culture is very apt to be the culture of the 3rd Sangam age which started in 1500 BCE and ended in the 1st century CE.

The findings at Keezhadi cannot be called as Archaeological garbage, as it was the result of a well planned survey of the Vaigai basin conducted in 2013. At that time, the State archaeology department identified as many as 293 Sangam age towns along the course of Vaigai river. To quote the archaeologist R. Vedachalam,

Our field of research included areas that fell within five kilometres from the river on both the banks, starting from the place of Vaigai’s origin in Theni district to the very end of the river in Ramanathapuram district.”

“The places were classified as granaries, trading points, ports, habitation sites and living or dilapidated temples. Excavations were carried out at Varushanad in Theni and Azhagankulam in Ramnad.

The excavation at Keezhadi has been carried out at two localities in the farm. “Both the places have yielded different items and we presume they represent a social hierarchy,” says Amarnath. The bigger of the two locations with more number of trenches is said to be a settlement of educated rich people, as many jewellery, fine game stones, semi-precious stones and a dozen Tamil Brahmi inscriptions have been found. “Even the brick structures appear more refined.” Beads of agate, Carnelian and quartz indicate that they had trade link with countries like Rome. The Tamil Brahmi letters found on pottery is all names of individuals such as, Thisan, Aadhan and Udhiran. “They are typical Sangam Age Tamil names,” says Amarnath.

The second locality has more of graffiti on pottery, bone tools and iron weapons. “We have got the fish symbol, both as an art and as a ‘sign representing a clan,” says Vadivel. Red-and-black pottery, groove tiles used for laying roofs and the typical flat brick measuring 38 centimetres are the other indications that the city unearthed belongs to the Sangam Age. “Keezhadi could as well be the ‘Peru Manalur’, the city of Sangam Pandiyas mentioned in literature,” suggests Amarnath.”

Is this “archaeological garbage”?

This ‘garbage’ came into light a year ago. What is revealed now is not the end of the story. More and more will be coming out as there are 250 + places on the course of Vaigai that are waiting to be excavated.

The river Vaigai was a life line of the Pandyan kingdom during 3rd Sangam Age. So far we have got 10 verses on River Vaigai compiled in the Sangam composition by name Paripadal all of which describe the life and culture of the people living on the banks of Vaigai. In fact the details on the famous Paavai Nonbu that I have earlier written in this blog were from one of the verses on Vaigai only. The current findings coming from the excavation in Keezhadi pertains to the region that was once populated by the people of Paripadal times.

It is foolish to attribute the findings to some ‘civilisation’ or Iron Age or some such classification of western origin. As far as Indian land is concerned, this classification is absurd as its history is very old, older than any currently known civilisations.

A parallel report on much older age of Indus civilisation appeared a few days ago which also added to the ire of Mr Farmer. But that is a fact which western Indologists would have to reconcile with some day. The Keezhadi findings is a gem of excavations as it proves that the literary inputs of our ancestors are never wrong, nor are they figments of imagination. This also holds good for the history that we learn from the works of Maharishis such as Valmiki and Veda Vyasa!



Harappa-Like Site Found In Tamil Nadu

A signet made of clay with ornamental design was among the about 3,000 ancient artefacts found at the Keezhadi Pallai Sandhaipudur village in this district during an excavation conducted by the team of experts from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

According to ASI officials, the ancient settlement at the village, which was on the highway travelled by traders all over the world once, had an underground drainage system which was on par with the Harappan system. The sewage drains had been laid with "baked clay pipe lines".

A team of ASI experts, including Superintendent K Amarnath Ramakrishna, Rajesh and Veeraraghavan were involved in the excavation work, which began on January 18 and is likely to continue till September this year.

"The drainage system is similar to what was found in Harappan civilisation site" they said. They claimed that the settlement was more than 2,500 years old, belonging to the ancient Pandiya era.

Apart from signets, arrows, iron and copper weapons, rare ornaments and scribbling nail, had been found, Amarnath Ramakrishna said. "It is very rare to find the constructions intact. The findings threw more light on the Sankakala Tamil civilisation", he said.

"The signs of urban civilisation were more in Keezhadi village. In fact it was much more than Kaveri Poompattinam," he said. The signets could have been used by the traders who sent their products with their seal, he said.

Source: PTI [May 30, 2016]



Harappa-like site surfaces in Tamil Nadu

Arockiaraj Johnbosco| TNN | May 29, 2016, 11.52 PM IST

The excavation trenches at Keeladi attracted many who wanted to have a glimpse of the ancient civilization

MADURAI: With structure after structure surfacing from under the soil, the massive scale of an ancient urban centre that lies buried at Pallisanthai Thidal in Sivaganga district of Tamil Nadu is emerging.

The second phase of the work undertaken by excavation branch VI, Bangalore, of the Archaeological Survey of India suggests that the settlement at Keeladi village could be as large as the ones in Harappa and Mohenjo Daro. The excavations reveal a well-built urban centre with many amenities.

After exploration works on the Vaigai riverbed in 2013-14, the office of the superintending archaeologist, excavation branch VI in Bangalore, shortlisted Keeladi village for excavation. The first phase of the study carried out in 2015 unearthed various antiquities, iron implements and earthenware, both foreign and locally made. The pot shreds of Arretine dating back to 3 BC proved foreign trade existed in the region during the period.

As t he phase I study concluded that this was an ancient urban habitation site, the ASI went for the next phase of excavation at Keeladi. According to archaeologists working at the site, the results of phase II in 53 excavation trenches are overwhelming. ", The mound where we are excavating is of 3.5 km circumference in 80 acres of private agricultural land. We are finding structure after structure of the habitation site, the first of its kind in Tamil Nadu. It could be a huge urban settlement of independent civilisation on the banks of the Vaigai," said K Amarnath Ramakrishna, superintending archaeologist.

The semi-precious stone antiquities found at the excavation site.

The current excavation works will go on till September this year. The excavation is lending much credence to the narrative in Sangam literature that throws light on the ancient Tamil way of life. The literature speaks volumes about the public and personal lives of rulers and the people of Tamil Nadu some 2000 or more years ago. However, there had been no solid evidence in archaeology to support the Sangam way of life.

Madurai Kanchi, Nedunalvadai and Paripadal in the literature speak about the Madurai and Pandya kingdoms in the region. "These books talk about the personal lives of kings and queens, their palaces and their way of life. But we could not know exactly where the city mentioned in these texts existed," says Vedachalam.


R.Ramanathan said...

Good article madam. Looks like Indian History should dance to Witzel and Farmer's tune. I do not know how such people occupy high academic positions in Universities like Harvard. What a shame instead of throwing them out like garbade our archaeological wonders are named "Garbage". Classic case of cutting the leg for the shoe

sury Siva said...

On a read of your scholarly article,
I just wonder how under the garb of self -styled erudite scholars, our age -old
civilisation is attempted to be masked.

great article indeed.

subbu thatha.

Raghunathan K said...

Scholars are not scholars unless they accept and acknowledge that further findings could change their conclusion, for we do not know the extent of truth buried in history, which such excavations are bringing out.

jayasree said...

Mailed this article to Mr Steve Farmer. Would like to get a reply from him. Meanwhile let me also point out that Mr Farmer could not much appreciate another finding that pushes back the date of Harappan civilisation. There are discrepancies in his reaction to that finding. I would write an article on that also. By the way, thanks for all for sharing your views here.

TuNo said...

Dr.Poongundran presents the archeological history of the water management structures of the Noyyal River, agriculture - trade (trade routes) and military structures, religious practices in the Kongu region from the early historical period. In addition, he talks in detail about the historic and pre-historic rock art discovered so far in this region.

கொங்கு நாட்டின் பாறை ஓவியங்கள், வரலாற்று காலத்தில் பல்வேறு அரசுகளால் நொய்யல் நதியின் மீது உருவாக்கப்பட்ட தடுப்பணைகள், கால்வாய்காள், ஏரிகள் குறித்தும் வேளாண்மை, வியாபாரம் (வணிகப் பெருவழிகள்) மற்றும் இராணுவ அமைப்புகளின் தொல்லியல் வரலாறு குறித்தும் முனைவர் பூங்குன்றன் இந்த நேர்காணலில் மிகவும் விரிவாக விளக்குகிறார்.

Ezhilram Desent said...

According to my calculation ,keezhadi city was more than BCE1500 yrs old .Infact i can announce i am waiting for carbon dating age.