Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Punch-marked Roman coins found in Kodumanal

Kodumanal, celebrated in Tamil Sangam literature (datable from the second century BCE to the second century C.E.), is now one of the most explored sites in India. The Sangam work Pathitruppatthu refers to Kodumanal as Kodumanam in two places. While the poet Kabilar refers to it as "Kodumanam patta… nankalam", another poet, Arisil Kizhar, celebrates it as "Kodumanam patta vinaimaan arunkalam", that is, Kodumanam, the place where rare jewels are made. A horizontally excavated site, Kodumanal has yielded the highest number of inscribed potsherds (about 315 potsherds with Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions) and also the largest number of exposed graves for any single archaeological site in India.

It was V.N. Srinivasa Desikan of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) who first noticed Kodumanal's antiquity in 1961. R. Nagaswamy, then Director, Tamil Nadu State Department of Archaeology, made a trial excavation there in the 1980s. Nagaswamy credited S. Raju, a scholar in Tamil and then Professor of Epigraphy, Tamil University, Thanjavur, with discovering Kodumanal. Raju first highlighted Kodumanal's archaeological potential by his frequent visits to the site and the paper he presented in the World Tamil Conference held in Madurai in 1981. He supported the observations he made in his paper with a large number of antiquities he collected from the site. All this made Y. Subbarayalu of Tamil University direct K. Rajan, then a research scholar in the university, to explore the Coimbatore region. Rajan discovered more than 120 archaeological sites for his PhD thesis on the megalithic sites of the Coimbatore region.

A series of excavations started in 1985. "Every season was a success and success has followed every trench. The success will continue," said Rajan. Tamil University excavators dug 48 trenches and exposed 13 megalithic graves in 1985, 1986, 1988 and 1990, with Subbarayalu as the Director of Excavation and Rajan actively associated with him. Each trench covered a four-square-metre area. The Department of Ancient History and Archaeology, University of Madras, and the Tamil Nadu State Department of Archaeology collaborated with Tamil University to a limited extent. "The excavations in the habitation mound covered a fairly big area and may be classified as area excavation," said Subbarayalu. Later, the State Department of Archaeology excavated another 15 trenches and exposed three more megalithic graves in 1998 and 1999.

Via http://www.frontlineonnet.com/stories/20120810291507000.htm