Sangam Era?s Keeladi

Sangam Era’s Keeladi

News: Recently, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has submitted a detailed report on the findings during the first two phases of the digging at the Sangam-era site Keeladi.

About Keeladi:
 Keeladi is a tiny hamlet in the Sivaganga district in south Tamil Nadu. It is about 12 km south-east to the temple city of Madurai and is located along the Vaigai river.
 The excavations here from 2015 prove that an urban civilization existed in Tamil Nadu in the Sangam age on the banks of the Vaigai river.

Key Findings:
 Over 18,000 artefacts have been unearthed from the site and the unique artefacts will be on display at the museum to be opened soon.
 Unearthing of heaps of pottery suggest the existence of a pottery making industry,
 Over a thousand Tamil Brahmi inscribed potsherds, found at Keeladi and other sites clearly suggest the long survival of the script.
 Spindle whorls, copper needles, terracotta seal, hanging stones of the yarn, terracotta spheres and earthen vessels to hold liquid suggest various stages of a weaving industry. There also existed a dyeing industry and a glass bead industry.
 Gold ornaments, copper articles, semi-precious stones, shell bangles, ivory bangles and ivory combs reflect the artistic, culturally rich and prosperous lifestyle of the Keeladi people.
 Agate and carnelian beads suggest import through commercial networks while terracotta and ivory dice, gamesmen and evidence of hopscotch have been unearthed revealing their pastime hobbies.

What do recent findings signify?
Links with Sangam Age
 The Sangam age is a period of history in ancient Tamil Nadu which was believed to be from the 3rd century BCE to the 3rd century CE and derives its name from the renowned Sangam assemblies of the poets of Madurai from that time.
 A recent ASI report has pushed the Sangam age to 800 BCE based on these archaeological findings.
 Keeladi could also provide crucial evidence for understanding the missing links of the Iron Age (12th century BCE to sixth century BCE) to the Early Historic Period (sixth century BCE to fourth century BCE) and subsequent cultural developments.

Comparison with Indus Valley Civilization
 The unearthed Keeladi artefacts have led academics to describe the site as part of the Vaigai Valley Civilization. The findings have also invited comparisons with the Indus Valley Civilization while acknowledging the cultural gap of 1,000 years between the two places. The gap is filled with Iron Age material in south India, which serve as residual links.
 According to Tamil Nadu State Archaeology Department (TNSDA) Keeladi has all the characteristics of an urban civilization, with brick structures, luxury items and proof of internal and external trade.
 It comes across as an industrious and advanced civilization and has given evidence of urban life and settlements in Tamil Nadu during the Early Historic Period. 

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