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Keeladi (Keezhadi) Excavation

  Jun 12, 2020

Keeladi (Keezhadi) Excavation

What is Keeladi (Keezhadi) excavation?

In 2013-14, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) carried out explorations in 293 sites along the Vaigai river valley in Theni, Dindigul, Madurai, Sivaganga and Ramanathapuram districts. Keezhadi in Sivaganga district was chosen for excavation and artefacts were unearthed by the ASI in the second phase of the excavation. This is a large-scale excavation carried out in Tamil Nadu after the Adichanallur archaeological site. 

What did it show?

It pointed to an ancient civilisation that thrived on the banks of the Vaigai. The excavations proved that urban civilisation had existed in Tamil Nadu since the Sangam age.

Which age did it belong to?

Keeladi excavation site is a Sangam period settlement near the town of Keeladi (also spelt as Keezhadi). It is dated the excavated remains between 5th century BCE and 3rd century CE

Who conducted the excavations?

The first three phases of excavation at Keeladi were conducted by the Archaeological Survey of India while the fourth and fifth phases were conducted by the Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department. Sixth phase of excavations at Keezhadi to begin in January 2020.

What was found and what is its significance?

What is Sangam period?

Sangam period is the period of history of ancient Tamil Nadu and Kerala (known as Tamilakam) spanning from c. 6th century BCE to c. 1st century CE. It is named after the famous Sangam academies of poets and scholars centered in the city of Madurai.

What is Radiocarbon dating and why is it used?

Radiocarbon dating has transformed our understanding of the past 50,000 years. Professor Willard Libby produced the first radiocarbon dates in 1949 and was later awarded the Nobel Prize for his efforts. Radiocarbon dating (also referred to as carbon dating or carbon-14 dating) is a method for determining the age of an object containing organic material by using the properties of radiocarbon, a radioactive isotope of carbon.

It is based on the fact that radiocarbon (C-14) is constantly being created in the atmosphere by the interaction of cosmic rays with atmospheric nitrogen. The resulting carbon-14 combines with atmospheric oxygen to form radioactive carbon dioxide, which is incorporated into plants by photosynthesis; animals then acquire carbon-14 by eating the plants. When the animal or plant dies, it stops exchanging carbon with its environment, and from that point onwards the amount of carbon-14 it contains begins to decrease as the carbon-14 undergoes radioactive decay. Measuring the amount of carbon-14 in a sample from a dead plant or animal such as a piece of wood or a fragment of bone provides information that can be used to calculate when the animal or plant died. The older a sample is, the less carbon-14 there is to be detected, and because the half-life of carbon-14 (the period of time after which half of a given sample will have decayed) is about 5,730 years, the oldest dates that can be reliably measured by this process date to around 50,000 years ago, although special preparation methods occasionally permit accurate analysis of older samples.