The ghosts of Adichanallur

The ghosts of Adichanallur

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Her capabilities weren’t neatly outlined but her body conveyed a symbolism. Her mighty hips had been emphasised by what regarded as if it’d be a skirt or maybe an oddiyanam — a belt-cherish jewelry. Her breasts had been outstanding and the long, dangling earrings she wore looked conventional of the Tirunelveli characteristic of Tamil Nadu.

The palm-sized bronze figurine got right here from the archaeological place at Adichanallur, positioned alongside the Tamirabarani river in Thoothukudi district, says C. Maheswaran, the retired curator for anthropology on the Department of Museums. “It likely represents a mother goddess who stood for fertility,” he provides. “The artefact is feeble but is circa 1,500 BC,” surmises T. Satyamurthy. As superintending archaeologist on the Archaeological Take into story of India (ASI), he had led the fourth excavation — fifth, as per some data — in Adichanallur in 2004-05.

For with regards to a hundred years, the Mother Goddess has been lying safely inner a vault on the Egmore Museum. Now the figurine, as neatly as varied artefacts, including gold diadems (gold jewelry tied with a string on the forehead) will most likely be half of thousands of assorted Adichanallur artefacts for existing at a revamped gallery within the museum, says Kavitha Ramu, Director, Department of Museums.

An Urn burial place at Adichanallur shut to Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu.
| Photo Credit:
A. Shaikmohideen


Digging to the Sangam technology

At the place in Adichanallur, abutting the sleepy hamlet known as Karungulam, there is tiny, if any, signal of previous grandeur. On a up to date Sunday evening, because the sun characteristic over the Tamirabarani river, the grassy knoll on the river bank changed into a grazing ground for cattle. Bisected by the Tirunelveli-Tiruchendur avenue, two rusty signboards of the ASI give tiny data on the importance of the place but warn vandals of punishment.

A community of girls looking ahead to the bus motioned to this correspondent. One in all them acknowledged in Tamil, “For folk that climb up the mound, you will discover what you will also be browsing for.” To the untrained undercover agent, there is nothing unparalleled on top of the hummock, other than for a gape of two temples of up to date foundation. But just right here, the Four excavations in Adichanallur — by a German, a Frenchman, the British, and at closing by Indians — like unearthed thousands of burial urns, likely loads of thousands of years ragged, alongside with skeletal remains and thousands of iron and bronze artefacts, including weapons and gold jewelry. These remains had been shipped to Chennai, Kolkata, Berlin and Paris. A lately constructed building for an on-place museum in Adichanallur waits for the remains to attain.

Amongst Tamil enthusiasts, heritage lovers, and advocates of Dravidian ideology, there changed into as soon as a resurgence of pastime in Adichanallur, following the contemporary discovery of an urban settlement in Keezhadi, in Sivaganga district, relationship abet to the Sangam technology (300 BC to 300 AD). A range of them like charged the Centre with wilfully stalling the excavations at Keezhadi, contending that the ASI changed into as soon as baulking on the prospect of digging out an intensive, outdated faculty Tamil civilisation that changed into as soon as self ample of Vedic Hinduism.

Sangam literature, particularly the sooner works, has been a touchstone for the Dravidian motion. The poetry of the Sangam canon conjures up the interior world of emotions and the outer world of job, but is basically restful on non secular practices or even God. Many students aver that there is no longer any such thing as a tag of Vedic Hinduism within the verses, and nearly nothing of the caste system or Brahmins. To many proponents of the Dravidian motion, the early Sangam technology represents an good non-Brahmin, non-caste previous, and offers them their separate identification. “If staunch the burial place can throw up so many issues, have faith in what a elephantine-fledged excavation in Adichanallur would possibly perchance perchance also unearth,” says R. Mathivanan, who served because the Director the Declare authorities’s Tamil Etymological Dictionary challenge.

A figurine of Mother Goddess unearthed at Adhichanallur, placed at Executive Museum in Egmore, Chennai.
| Photo Credit:
B. Jothi Ramalingam


The skeletal remains excavated at Adichanallur furthermore did now not quite match the biological structure of the up to date Tamil folk. For occasion, the jaws of a complete lot of the skulls had been protruding, and regarded as if it would match these of Australian aborigines or Sad Africans moderately than a conventional Tamil or south Indian. The form and dimension of the undercover agent sockets resembled these of the Caucasoid, Far Jap or even African races. A receding forehead changed into as soon as one more indicator of international origins.

For deal of decades, experts assumed that the place changed into as soon as three,000 to Four,000 years ragged, and had concluded that the skulls belonged to feeble races that had been the ancestors of recently’s Tamils. Some sought to hyperlink them to the folk of the Indus Valley, which has been recognised by some students as proto-Dravidian (‘proto’ would imply ‘customary, feeble or the earliest’). Adichanallur changed into as soon as the lacking hyperlink in time between the Tamils and the Indus Valley folk, they felt.

But in basically the most up-to-date learn, P. Raghavan, a bodily anthropologist, has surmised that the remains belong to the five hundred BC to 200 BC length, all the map in which by technique of which time the up to date Tamil inhabitants had formed. He has concluded that the international-attempting skeletal remains had been indeed these of foreigners. But what had been these foreigners doing in Adichanallur thousands of years ago?

Date with the previous

The most up-to-date Adichanallur excavations in 2004-05, led by Mr. Satyamurthy, showed that Adichanallur, apart from being an Iron Age burial place, changed into as soon as furthermore a ‘habitation place’ the place outdated faculty folk lived. In loads of stories in The Hindu and Frontline printed at that time, journalist T.S. Subramanian explained what changed into as soon as excavated all the map by technique of that dig.

A learn paper printed in 2010 within the Indian Journal of Historical previous of Science acknowledged that Adichanallur changed into as soon as furthermore an outdated faculty centre for mining and metalwork. A mineral sample from a burial urn containing copper artefacts changed into as soon as dated to 1,500 BC, plus or minus seven-hundred years, by Raj Kishore Gartia of Manipur College.

“At Adichanallur, arsenic changed into as soon as intentionally added to copper in swear that the alloy would be work-hardened over a extensive trend of temperatures with out wretchedness of embrittlement. Amongst the ancients in India, this methodology has been stumbled on utterly within the Indus Valley, apart from Adichanallur,” says B. Sasisekaran, who changed into as soon as serving as a scientist on the National Institute of Ocean Know-how when he did the learn as portion of the crew. He provides that on the shut by Krishnapuram too, an outdated faculty mining place changed into as soon as stumbled on, indicating that this changed into as soon as no longer an isolated job. The experts concluded that steel artefacts had been made right here till the eighth century AD.

The relationship attain veteran has, on the replacement hand, drawn criticism. Within the Thermo-luminescence (TL) and Optically Stimulated Luminescence relationship (OSL) programs adopted, the closing time the mineral changed into as soon as heated (doubtlessly for its score) is detected. Critics mutter that carbon relationship is more acceptable for Adichanallur.

Gold decoration tied on the forehead all the map by technique of marriage ceremony unearthed at Adhichanallur, placed at Executive Museum in Egmore, Chennai.  
| Photo Credit:
B. Jothi Ramalingam


Mr. Sasisekaran counters that OSL is indeed the commonplace for relationship minerals, as carbon relationship is veteran more for organic cloth. He provides that OSL had successfully dated findings by marine archaeologists on the Gulf of Khambat. But some archaeologists lisp that radio carbon relationship at three reputed institutes would resolve the difficulty and furthermore reduce back the error margin within the OSL relationship.

Diversity of the remains

For quite some time now, Adichanallur has been the playground of contentious theories voiced all the map in which by technique of the sector. These theories like handled one of the greatest questions on the historical previous of no longer staunch India but the entire human journey.

Starting in Chennai, or Madras, because it changed into as soon as known then, the Adichanallur findings like exercised radiant minds in Kolkata, Berlin, Paris, London, Australia and Ithaca in Current York Declare, dwelling to Cornell College.

“Adittanallur (Adichanallur) skeletal data like attain to be regarded as the keystone for many theories of journey formation, which had been basically based mostly upon the tenets of an earlier anthropological preoccupation known as racial paleontology,” acknowledged Kenneth Kennedy, worn professor of bodily anthropology at Cornell, in his essay, “Hauntings at Adichanallur: An anthropological ghost story”, printed in 1986.

Adichanallur’s global hyperlinks started with the appearance of German antiquarian and Berlin resident of Russian descent Friedrich (Fedor) Jagor within the nineteenth century. Germany all the map by technique of Jagor’s time changed into as soon as a unhurried entrant to the imperialist sport that mute fancied its potentialities. The Germans believed that they would perchance also just consume ethnography to gain the native populations they had been encountering in Asia and Africa. This resulted in a journey amongst German cities to boost their cosmopolitan location and consume up with varied cities on the continent by improving the ethnological collections of their museums. Jagor, a resident of Berlin, changed into as soon as a outstanding participant in this journey.


Between 1857 and 1893, Jagor made three journeys to Asia. All over his 2d expedition in 1876, he excavated “upwards of fifty forms, of baked earthenware, utensils of all shapes and sizes, a in point of fact intensive selection of iron weapons and implements… and a gargantuan quantity of bones and skulls”, wrote the District Gazetteer. Jagor shipped his finds to the Ethnological Museum of Berlin.

Jagor has left detailed chronicles of his travels, but no longer of Adichanallur. “Jagor brought abet some 10,000 artefacts in all. The Indian artefacts had been first stored on the Ethnological Museum and in 1963 had been dropped on the newly established Department of Indian Art, now a portion of the Museum of Asian Art next to the Ethnological Museum,” says Roland Platz, curator for South/Southeast Asia on the Berlin Ethnological Museum.

Jagor would possibly perchance perchance also just no longer like written about Adichanallur but his treasures had been changing into neatly-known in Europe, neatly-known Kennedy. Louis Lapicque, a French neuroscientist who believed in journey theories, landed in Adichanallur in 1903. Kennedy added that Lapicque dug out one cranium that, in step with Lapicque, constituted evidence of a feeble Negroid journey. This cranium changed into as soon as “proudly displayed” on the Muséum nationwide d’Histoire naturelle in Paris, in step with Kennedy, who neatly-known that many replacement experts of that time had been furthermore weighing in on the skeletal remains.

Within the meantime, Alexander Rea, the superintending archaeologist of the ASI in Madras, had started his own excavation on the turn of the Twentieth century. In all he excavated 14 skeletal remains, and a complete lot of the artefacts he dug out had been placed on existing on the Egmore Museum in Chennai.

In 1930, Solly Zuckerman, a learn anatomist, did a dimension-basically based mostly look of two Adichanallur skulls. He stumbled on the predominant to be significantly Australoid but didn’t mediate it changed into as soon as too varied from being Dravidian. The 2d, he acknowledged, changed into as soon as likely female, and remarkably similar to the Ragged Lady of Grimaldi, one in every of two Stone Age skeletal remains stumbled on in Italy.

The Grimaldi finds had been idea to present a boost to the ‘Out of Europe’ principle which changed into as soon as later discredited. The Grimaldis had been supposed to be examples of darker-skinned Europeans who gave rise to Sad Africans and, doubtlessly for Zuckermann, Dravidians too.

In 1963, Indian anthropologists B.Good ample. Gupta and P. Chatterjee printed a look in step with more developed skeletal overview tactics all the map in which by technique of which they acknowledged the skeletons showed a medley of “feeble” capabilities that belonged to Veddoid-Australoid and Mediterranean races. These races had “contributed to the formation of Dravidian speakers”, they acknowledged.

‘Vedda’ is a tribe that is mute stumbled on in recently’s Sri Lanka. In Tamil, ‘Vedda’ stands for the hunter tribe. As per the folklore, basically the most in trend deity within the Declare, Murugan, comes from that tribe.

The 2 Indian anthropologists neatly-known that the Australoid and the Mediterranean skeletal remains had furthermore been stumbled on in Indus Valley Civilisation, thus establishing a hyperlink with Adichanallur.

Reviewing these learn, Kennedy concluded in his essay that the Adichanallur remains stumbled on till then had been quite various. On that foundation, he known as for more conclusive excavations and prognosis in swear that the ghosts of Adichanallur would be assign to leisure.

The Aussie connection

By 2014, the ‘Out of Africa’ principle had turn out to be the scientific consensus on the inspiration of man, and Australia had embarked on a challenge that would possibly perchance perchance portray that the aborigines in that nation had been descendants of ‘Out of Africa’ migrants dwelling in South and Southeast Asia all the map by technique of the Ice Age. The Australoids had reportedly pushed in direction of Australia by technique of sea and land routes — curiously, Australia changed into as soon as linked to the mainland then.

Amongst the scientists working in that challenge changed into as soon as P. Raghavan, who changed into as soon as born to Indian Tamil fogeys in Jaffna but left the island nation within the unhurried Seventies which capability of the ethnic strife there. He and his sister Gayatri Pathmanathan moved to Chandigarh as researchers. Raghavan later moved to Australia.

In December 2004, he changed into as soon as on a talk over with to Chennai for his learn on the hyperlink between aborigines and South India. A hotel receptionist, after asking about his profession, told him that some outdated faculty skeletons had been unearthed at Adichanallur. “Adichanallur changed into my passion…” says Mr. Raghavan.

While bodily anthropologists before him noticed Adichanallur in isolation, Mr. Raghavan, assisted by his sister, noticed it within the context of Korkai, some 15 km from Adichanallur, and the Sangam references to it as a port thinking about sea alternate and pearl fishing. Radio carbon relationship had stumbled on that a sample from Korkai changed into as soon as circa 800 BC. Within the intervening time (2,500 years ago) the sea would possibly perchance perchance also like been on the least 6-7 km inland, he says.

After learn the usage of developed tool and databases, and scrutiny of the fossil and semi-fossil data within the dwelling, he testifies to the international foundation of the folk whose skeletal remains had been stumbled on. He says they date to 2,500-2,200 BC. “Lots of the Adichanallur skulls had been that of oldsters from the Center East, the Mediterranean characteristic, Southeast Asia and the Far East, including what is recently Vietnam, Cambodia, China and Japan. The skulls had abnormalities and nutritional deficiencies of the kind in overall suffered by seafarers and deep-sea divers. They doubtlessly got right here in by technique of the silk alternate route, and the burial ground excavated changed into as soon as doubtlessly an unparalleled cemetery for foreigners,” Mr. Raghavan says. The cranium remains pointed to sexually transmitted ailments, which changed into as soon as again changed into as soon as a prevalent side of seafarers, he provides.

About a of the skulls had mysterious, neatly margined cavities staunch above the eyebrows. Mr. Raghavan says that they had been doubtlessly triggered by non-cancerous (benign) tumors (in most cases is believed as Pott’s Puff Tumors) and connected to excessive sinuses. They had been likely triggered by obvious bacteria that in most cases attack sailors and deep sea divers, he provides.

The Egmore Museum gallery seeks to spotlight the sea alternate side. “The revamped Adichanallur gallery in Egmore Museum will give guests a in point of fact feel of outdated faculty Tamil lifestyles and their maritime actions by technique of the consume of digital and augmented fact,” says Good ample. Pandiarajan, Tamil Nadu Minister for Tamil Legit Language and Tamil Culture.“We hope to plan in Central as neatly as Corporate Social Accountability (CSR) funds for the overall museum revamp challenge,” he provides.

“The Declare authorities has sanctioned ₹30 lakh for refurbishing the Adichanallur gallery, that would possibly perchance perchance also just be finished by March-April,” says Kavitha Ramu of the Department of Museums.

Awaiting closure

Mr. Raghavan says that of the with regards to a hundred and seventy skeletal remains studied, Caucasoid constituted 35%, Mongoloid 30%, Negroid 14%, Australoid 5%, Dravidian eight%, and blended traits eight%. He says that the Australoid had been likely up to date Australian aborigines who had been known to like had seafaring qualities.

Contemporary anthropologists frown upon any significance being linked to journey, assign for the needs of reconstructing historical previous. The conceal perception is that there are Four races: Australoid, Negroid, Caucasoid and Mongoloid. But these are statistical constructs that manufacture no longer resolve or articulate custom, behaviour or capability. No one is only of any journey and the races are no longer closed genetic programs.

“Finally, India is an admixture of the entire Four races. The extent of the combine would possibly perchance perchance also just vary from characteristic to characteristic,” says Mr. Raghavan, including that Dravidian and Aryan are linguistic and no longer racial entities.

Dravidianists argue that as long as there are caste-basically based mostly inequalities and focus of energy within the upper castes, empowerment politics in step with journey and identification are each relevant and important.

When marriage all the map in which by technique of caste boundaries turns into commonplace, such politics won’t be required, they mutter. They hope that an intensive excavation will conclusively assign a blinding Tamil civilisation alongside the Tamirabarani. “No longer up to 10% of the place has been excavated. There would possibly be scope for plenty more work there,” says Mr. Satyamurthy.

Mr. Raghavan’s discovering offers closure to on the least one side, on the replacement hand. Fedor Jagor got right here shopping for the remains of a feeble folk to portray in a Berlin museum in swear that the metropolis would possibly perchance perchance also conceal itself as more cosmopolitan. Tiny would he like known that he changed into as soon as digging up an outdated faculty cosmopolitan cemetery, if no longer the burial characteristic of a full cosmopolitan community.

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