Friday, August 29, 2014

Kattuputhur Excavations: REACH Exhibition and Presentation by Swarnamalya

Kattuputhur Village - Location Map Google
Terracotta heads of Sastha (left) and the Buddha (right) (belongs to a period earlier than the Megalithic Age or Iron Age in Tamil Nadu) found near Kattuputhur (photograph courtesy : K.V. Srinivasan, The Hindu)
Inauguration of the Exhibition on Kattuputhur Excavations - organized by AASAI and REACH Foundation and Rotary Club of Madras Central Aadithya at at Madras Management Association, 3rd Cross St., Seethammal Extn., Teynampet on 24th August 2014 between 10.30 am and 12.30 pm. (photograph courtesy : Dinamalar)
Excavation work at Kattuputhur, Thottiam Taluk of Tiruchirapalli District, yielded five potsherds with Tamil Brahmi script, shallow and deep terracotta bowls and plates, thin black and red ware, miniature pottery, beautiful terracotta figurines of the Buddha and the Sastha, beads made out of conch shells. The artifacts datable to second century CE together  tell a story about how our ancestors lived about 1800 years ago.

The importance of the site, according to T. Satyamurthy, former Superintending Archaeologist, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the founder president of REACH Foundation, Chennai, is that it belongs to a period earlier than the Megalithic Age or Iron Age in Tamil Nadu. They estimate that the site is datable from third century BCE to the 15th century CE.

Kattuputhur, the nondescript village, in Thottiam Taluk,  Tiruchirappalli district, Tamil Nadu near Namakkal, has spread along the north bank of the Cauvery river and populated with 11,115 people.  The perennial river flowing in 3 km distance from Kattuputhur and pouring her blessings on the people and turning the land green and fertile. The finest fertile lands depends mainly on the Cauvery water.

The site comprising huge mound was first identified by Dr.Swarnamalya Ganesh, renowned danseuse, actress, TV anchor and the Board of Trustee of Sri Lalithalayam trust (regd). She has also completed the course in “Deciphering South Indian Inscriptions - Tamil Brahmi, Chola Tamil and Grantham” conducted by the  REACH Foundation. This archaeological enthusiast also discovered and collected  the Sasta, Garuda, Vishnu, Jeshtadevi, Buddha and all other sculptures and photographed it first. She later invited Dr.Satyamurthy, the founder, Rural Education and Conservation of Heritage (R.E.A.C.H) Foundation, Chennai and his team of archaeologists. REACH has obtained license from ASI to conduct excavations and the team laid two trial trenches from April 26 to May 20 (Four-weeks).  The excavation director was Shri. K.K. Ramamurthy, former Superintending Archaeologist, Thrissur Circle, ASI.

Dr.Swarnamalya Ganesh, the Board of Trustee of Sri Lalithalayam trust (regd) is the decendent of the family of Dikshitars of Kattuputhur. The land grant including  of 1000 velis including the villages Kattuputhur, Thottiyam and Valayapatti as a free hold to Dikshitar family by Vijayanagara emperor Sri Krishnadevaraya. The copper plate grant issued by Sri Krishnadevaraya and the book “Sages of Himalayas” by Swami Sivananda confirm this land grant. The Sri Lalithalayam trust (regd), formed by her family with the "lofty ideals of searching the heritage roots of Kattuputhur, establishing a museum, renovation, conservation and restoration of temples, monuments and heritage edifices in and around their village."

REACH has organized an exhibition comprising the collection of photographs and artifacts obtained from the site. This exhibition recognises the ancestral as well as the historical link with the Kattuputhur village. The presentation by Dr.Swarnamalya, preferred to call her as an archaeological enthusiast, highlighted her attachment with her ancestral village. She also brought out the concept of 'Community archaeology' being experimented by REACH and the response from people is encouraging. Her direct involvement in discussions with other archaeologists, researchers, journalists and enthusiasts about the archaeological site and artefacts and it was a "learning from experience" for her. She also interacted well with the skilled and unskilled staff in the excavation process as well as the local people who showed curious reactions and later extended all possible help in the task.

The excavation has produced different varieties of ceramics such as black and red ware. The pottery sherds contain Brahmi inscriptions on them, which have provided additional evidence for the archaeologist to date them to third century BCE. Other artifacts such as shallow and deep terracotta bowls and plates, terracotta figurines of the Buddha and the Sastha, beads made out of conch shells provide clues about the nature of the settlements and the other aspects of life during the ancient Sangam Age Tamilakam.

Dr.Satyamurthy has arrived at a conclusion that the excavation revealed about the flood action from the Cauvery river, first during the second century CE and again in the seventh century CE.

Reference

  1. A chance find of 1,800-year-old artefacts TS Subramanyan The Hindu  July 1, 2014
    http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/a-chance-find-of-1800yearold-artefacts/article6164059.ece
  2. Dr Swarnamalya Ganesh: Her Lineage http://drswarnamalyaganesh.com/her-lineage
  3. Heritage Restoration Visits REACH Foundation http://conserveheritage.org/?page_id=1547
  4. ராஜேந்திர சோழன் பிறந்த நாள் குழப்பத்துக்கு தீர்வு தேவை : தொல்லியல் ஆய்வாளர் விருப்பம்  (எஸ் ராமச்சந்திரன்) தினமலர்  25 August 2014
Kattuputhur Archaeological Excavations by REACH Foundation: Exhibition (Youtube Video)

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