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Preliminary   > Art and Culture   >   Miscellaneous   >   Archaeological sites

Why in news?

  • Excavations in Keeladi have uncovered two carnelian beads, reaffirming the historical trade connections between Tamil Nadu and the western regions of India, specifically Maharashtra and Gujarat.

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 civilisation existed in Tamil Nadu in the Sangam age on the banks of the Vaigai river.

How is Keeladi linked to Sangam age?

  • The Sangam age was believed to be from the third century BCE to the third century CE.
  • Excavations by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and Tamil Nadu State Archaeology Department (TNSDA) has pushed the Sangam age further back.
  • In 2019, a TNSDA report dated the unearthed artefacts from Keeladi to a period between sixth century BCE and first century BCE.
  • One of the six samples collected at a depth of 353 cm, sent for carbon dating in the U.S., dated back to 580 BCE.
  • The findings in the TNSDA report placed Keeladi artefacts about 300 years earlier than the previously believed third century BCE.
  • 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.

Are there links to Indus Valley?

  • The unearthed Keeladi artefacts have led academics to describe the site as part of the Vaigai Valley Civilisation.
  • The findings have also invited comparisons with the Indus Valley Civilisation while acknowledging the cultural gap of 1,000 years between the two places. Till now, the gap is filled with Iron Age material in south India, which serve as residual links.
  • However, some of the symbols found in pot sherds of Keeladi bear a close resemblance to Indus Valley signs. A lot of digging and study has to be done to establish the links between these two civilisations.
  • The graffiti marks on the artifacts obtained from the excavation site are interpreted by the excavators as a link between the scripts of the Indus Valley Civilization and Tamil-Brahmi.

Major excavations:

  • TNSDA affirms that Keeladi has all the characteristics of an urban civilisation, with brick structures, luxury items and proof of internal and external trade.
  • It comes across as an industrious and advanced civilisation and has given evidence of urban life and settlements in Tamil Nadu during the Early Historic Period.
  • Unearthing of heaps of pottery suggest the existence of a pottery making industry, mostly made of locally available raw materials.
  • Over 120 potsherds containing Tamil Brahmi inscriptions have been found. Keeladi, along with other Tamil Nadu sites which have over a thousand inscribed potsherds, clearly suggest the long survival of the script.
  • 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.


Keeladi excavation site is located in which of the following states?

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) Karnataka

(b) Andhra Pradesh

(c) Kerala

(d) Tamil Nadu