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Sangam civilisation older than thought, says new report

The archaeology department had collected six carbon samples at a depth of 353 cm during the fourth phase of excavations at the Keezhadi site. The results they have yielded are revealing.

SIVAGANGA: Six carbon samples collected from Keezhadi, the Sangam-era site, have been found to belong to 580 BC, according to accelerator mass spectrometry dating results from the Beta Analytic Lab in the US. This suggests that the urbanisation of Vaigai plains happened earlier than thought – around the 6th century BC.

The archaeology department had collected six carbon samples at a depth of 353 cm during the fourth phase of excavations at the Keezhadi site and sent them to the Beta Analytic Lab in Miami for accelerator mass spectrometry dating. The department recently got the results from the lab, which proved that the Keezhadi samples could be dated between the 6th century BC and 1st century AD.

Tamil Brahmi script older too

Recent scientific findings at Keezhadi also prove that the Tamil Brahmi script originated in the 6th century BC. “People were either literate or at least knew the art of writing as early as the 6th century BC,” an official said.

A large number of inscribed potsherds next to a graffiti were found to be in Tamil Brahmi. As many as 56 Tamil Brahmi inscribed potsherds were recovered from the excavations. The features found in Keezhadi are older in date, the official adds.

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Literate society

The Tamil Brahmi letters were found in shoulder portions of the earthen vessels. These letters were inscribed when the pot was wet or after the pot became dry. “This clearly suggests literacy levels in the 6th century BC,” said officials.

Agrarian society that reared cattle

The 70 samples of skeletal fragments collected from the site were sent to the Deccan College, a research institute in Pune, for analysis. The results showed they were of cow/ox, buffalo, sheep, goat, nilgai, blackbuck, wild boar and peacock. The species such as ox, cow, buffalo, goat were used for agriculture. The cut marks found on the skeletal remains of goat and wild boar suggested that they were consumed. The report suggested that people then mainly depended on agriculture and cattle rearing.

Good quality materials

The bricks, lime mortar, roof tiles and binding materials collected from the structural remains at the spot were sent to the Vellore Institute of Technology for scientific material analysis. The results revealed that every specimen contained elements like silica, lime, ferrous, aluminium and magnesium. The brick and roof tiles contained more than 80% silica mixed with 7% lime while lime plaster possessed 97% of lime. “The materials found at the site were strong and of a good quality,” sources said.

High standard of living

A 13-metre long wall was excavated from the site. Well-laid floors along with roof tiles in a collapsed state were found at the site. The iron nails were fastened to the poles and rafters proving that the wooden poles must have been placed over the roof. The roof tiles contained finger groove impressions to drain water. “Such activities prove a high standard of living during the Sangam age,” department officials said.