Stalin opens Keeladi museum as a fitting tribute to ancient Tamils

March 06, 2023 12:10 am | Updated 02:02 am IST - MADURAI

Chief Minister M.K. Stalin at the inauguration of the Museum of Archaeological Artifacts found at Keezadi Excavation in Sivagangai district on Sunday.

Chief Minister M.K. Stalin at the inauguration of the Museum of Archaeological Artifacts found at Keezadi Excavation in Sivagangai district on Sunday. | Photo Credit: PTI

Chief Minister M.K. Stalin inaugurated the much-awaited Keeladi museum, a testimony to the regal life lived by ancient Tamils during the Sangam Age, in Sivaganga district on Sunday.

The museum has been built on 2 acres at Keeladi at a cost of ₹18.43 crore. Located 12 km southeast of Madurai city, the hamlet gained an indispensable place in history as a major urban habitation site, unlike many other archaeological sites in the State, after the excavations began in 2015.

The Chief Minister opened the museum that is adorned with over 15,000 unique artefacts unearthed between the 4th and 8th phases of excavations by the Tamil Nadu State Department of Archaeology since 2018. The excavations underscored the fact that an urban civilisation existed in Tamil Nadu since the Sangam Age, contemporary to the urban life recorded in the Gangetic plains.

Minister for Industries, Tamil Culture and Archaeology Thangam Thennarasu told The Hindu that the Chief Minister expressed satisfaction with how the museum had become a reality. “He felt the museum is a fitting tribute to our ancient Tamils, their workmanship and life. The Chief Minister was keen on making the museum more accessible to school and college students by strengthening the educational aspect of it. He also stressed the need for maintaining the museum’s pristine look and focussing on its upkeep,” he said.

The unearthed antiques are categorised into six topics: Vaigai and Keeladi; agrarian and water management; sea trade; weaving and beads; lifestyle; and ceramic industry.

From potsherds, carnelian beads, punch-marked silver coins to iron weapons and urns, the museum has everything. Experiencing the excavations through virtual reality, the technology to transliterate one’s name into the Tamil Brahmi script, models of the ships of the Sangam Age and a lot more are in store for the visitors.

The excavations at Keeladi pushed the Sangam Age to 6th Century BCE from the earlier assessment of between 3rd Century BCE and 3rd Century CE. The report submitted recently to the Archaeological Survey of India by K. Amarnath Ramakrishna, the Superintending Archaeologist who led the first two phases of the excavations, has further pushed the Sangam Age to 800 BCE.

Ministers P.T.R. Palanivel Thiaga Rajan, E.V. Velu, P. Moorthy, K.N. Nehru, K.K.S.S.R. Ramachandran, Raja Kannappan, I. Periyasamy, R. Sakkarapani, K.R. Periakaruppan and Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi, MP Su. Venkatesan, Chief Secretary V. Irai Anbu, DGP Sylendra Babu and others were present.

The ASI carried out explorations at 293 sites along the Vaigai Valley in Theni, Dindigul, Madurai, Sivaganga and Ramanathapuram districts in 2013-14, and Keeladi was one of the sites.

The excavation carried out by the Excavation Branch VI of the ASI at Pallichanthai Thidal of Keeladi has unveiled an archaeological wealth that is enough to write a whole new chapter in history. The first three seasons of excavations were carried out between 2014 and 2017 by the ASI.

The State Department of Archaeology took over from the fourth season in 2018. From the sixth season, Konthagai, Agaram and Manalur were added as clusters of Keeladi. While Konthagai is largely a burial site, Agaram and Manalur show the existence of an active human habitation.

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