Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin. (PTI)(HT_PRINT)
Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin. (PTI)(HT_PRINT)

Proof of civilisation 3,200 years ago in Tamil Nadu: Stalin

There’s conclusive proof of a civilisation existing in Tamil Nadu around 3,200 years ago, state chief minister MK Stalin said on Thursday, citing scientific evidence for the same -- a finding that means a thriving city-based river valley civilisation existed in the state, coinciding with the latter half of the Indus Valley civilisation
By Divya Chandrababu, Chennai:
PUBLISHED ON SEP 10, 2021 12:15 AM IST

There’s conclusive proof of a civilisation existing in Tamil Nadu around 3,200 years ago, state chief minister MK Stalin said on Thursday, citing scientific evidence for the same -- a finding that means a thriving city-based river valley civilisation existed in the state, coinciding with the latter half of the Indus Valley civilisation.

Stalin said that a Tamil civilisation existed 3,200 years ago along the Tamiraparani river in present-day Thoothukudi and Tirunelveli districts -- a finding proved by carbon dating rice found in a burial urn in a US lab. He added that the state archaeological department would undertake excavations in neighbouring states and other countries, after taking due permission.

The civilisation link

Experts said the finding revealed the relationship between Tamil and Indus Valley civilisations. It is also certain to foster more debate on a controversial issue -- the origins of the Indus Valley civilisation, especially in the context of new research released last month that claimed Dravidian languages were spoken by some in the Indus Valley.

Speaking in the state assembly, Stalin said, “Recently, we have got the test results. I am extremely happy to announce that the rice samples have yielded the date of 1,155 BCE and hence, the Tamiraparani River Civilisation (Tirunelveli region in southern TN) is 3,200 years old and this is scientifically validated.”

He added that his government’s mission was to prove scientifically that the Indian sub-continent’s history should be written starting from the Tamil landscape.

Stalin revealed that recent results from carbon samples from excavations in Sivakalai (in adjacent districts of present day Thoothukudi and Tirunelveli) sent for AMS Carbon Dating Test to the Beta Analytical Laboratory in Miami, Florida, found that rice and husk discovered in an offering urn yielded the date of 1155 BCE.

HT has seen a copy of the analysis that shows that the material -- rice with soil -- was submitted on August 18 this year and the report was released on August 27. For a comparative understanding, Indus civilisation, which is the earliest known in the Indian subcontinent, lasted from 3300 BCE to 1300 BCE.

“It’s quite a revelation to the archaeological community,” Stalin said.

Previously, excavations from the Adhichanallur site in the same district showed results of 9th century BCE and Korkai being 8th century BCE. “With the current findings one can come to the conclusion that a mature civilisation existed along the river Porunai (Tamiraparani is the modern name). Adhichanallur and Sivakalai as habitations and Korkai being the port,” Stalin said. He also announced that a museum, for which 15-crore has been earmarked, will come up in Tirunelveli district to house the antiquities and cultural history.

Pivot to Tamil history

The CM said the state archaeology department is re-establishing the cultural history of Tamil Nadu through scientific studies and added that to establish Tamil roots, they would undertake excavations in historically important sites in neighbouring states, in sites such as Pattanam in Kerala, Vengi in Andhra Pradesh, Thalaikkadu in Karnataka and Palur in Odissa.

They will also look at sites in South-east Asia, in countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam, to which Chola King Rajendra had voyaged and where he had established beachheads, heading a kingdom that was India’s first maritime power. To establish Tamil trade relationships, excavations will also be undertaken in Quseir al-Qadim and Pernica Anekke in Egypt, part of the Roman Empire and in Khor Rori in Oman. Tamil Brahmi Potsherds were found in Egypt and Oman. “Efforts will be made to undertake exploration in these areas with the assistance of local archaeological institutions,” Stalin said. It is believed that ancient Tamils were a seafaring race and that, as long as 2,500 years ago, were trading with Egypt, countries in the Arabian Peninsula, Thailand, Malaysia and Sri Lanka, he noted.

Other initiatives

Currently, in Tamil Nadu, excavations are ongoing in Keeladi, Adhichanallur, Sivakalai, Korkai, Kodumanal, Mayiladumparai and Gangaikonda Cholapuram.

The latest findings are significant because they push back the date of early Tamil civilisation by around 800 years. “This is the earliest date we have found in Tamil Nadu after excavating more than 125 sites and it shows for the first time that Tamil people had a relationship with the Indus Valley Civilisation,” said S Rajavelu, archaeologist and adjunct faculty, Alagappa University.

“There are so many similarities between the two, like using bricks for constructions and not stones which came much later. This discovery has narrowed the chronology gap between Indus Valley Civilisation and Tamil history, which according to scholars only dated between 300 BC and 300 AD. Now we know it went back even more and is at least 3000 years old,” the archaeologist said.

Stalin also said that a punch-marked silver coin recently found at Keeladi with the symbols of Sun, Moon, Taurine and few geometrical designs is believed to date back to before the 4th century BCE. “With government support more excavations are in plans which will help us trace south Indian history which is often forgotten in Indian history writings,” said Rajavelu.

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