Keeladi reveals Tamil’s were literate as early as 6th century AD

Keeladi reveals Tamil’s were literate as early as 6th century AD

Keeladi reveals Tamil’s were literate as early as 6th century AD

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We have reached yet another milestone in Indian history with the discovery of artefacts found in excavations carried out at Keeladi in Tamil Nadu’s Sivagangai district which dates back to the period of 6th century AD, around 580 BCE.

This is the first time the date has been officially announced by the TNAD. The “graffiti marks” on them points to a possible link between the scripts of the Indus Valley Civilisation and Tamil Brahmi, which is the precursor to modern Tamil.

The report is significant because Dravidian movement politicians in Tamil Nadu have long claimed that the people of the Indus Valley Civilisation could be ancestors of the modern Tamils.

The Indus Valley Civilisation was situated in the north-western part of India between 5,000 BCE and 1,500 BCE. Around 1500 BCE, the civilisation collapsed and some have speculated that its people may have moved south. The script that was used by the people of this civilisation has been termed the Indus script, and experts have long speculated that the language could be Dravidian. Now research coming out of Keezhadi shows a possible connection between the two cultures.

However, archaeological and genetic evidence to establish the link was not strong so far. None of the three earlier major excavations in the region had provided strong evidence of an ancient urban settlement – a significant feature of the Indus Valley Civilisation.

The Keezhadi site, however, has so far provided overwhelming evidence of an urban settlement since excavation began in 2015.

The report spells the site as Keeladi as against the erstwhile widely used Keezhadi.The artefacts also indicate a high level of literacy among the people who lived in Keeladi.

The report added that the extent of pottery artefacts found at the site suggested that there could have been a pottery-making industry in the complex.

Recovery of 10 spindle whorls, 20 sharply pinpointed bone tip tools used for design creations, hanging stones of the yarn, terracotta spheres, copper needle and earthen vessels to hold liquid clearly attest to the various stages of weaving industry from spinning, yarning, looming and weaving and later for dyeing.

Six carbon samples collected from the fourth season (2018) of excavations at Keeladi were sent to Beta Analytic Lab, Miami, Florida, U.S., for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) dating.

Skeletal fragments were sent to Deccan College Post Graduate and Research Institute in Pune, and it identified them of species such as cow/ox (Bos indicus), buffalo (Bubalus bubalis), sheep (Ovis aries), goat (Capra hircus), nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus), blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra), wild boar (Sus scrofa) and peacock (Pavo cristatus).

This finding suggests that the society in Keeladi had used animals predominantly for agricultural purposes.

These excavations have reiterated the long-held views that the people of the Indus Valley moved east and southwards following the decline of the civilisation from around 2000 BCE. The TNAD is currently carrying out the 5th phase of excavation that had started from June 2019.

Ranjini Trinitymirror

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