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11 January 2009
Indian team finds Megalithic Age burial ground

Archaeologists discovered a burial ground dating back to the Megalithic Age at Thazhuthala in Kollam district (India). Excavation by the Department of Archaeology at the site unearthed three chambers separated by granite slabs. A number of urns were also found in different locations near the site. According to Dr. Hemachandran who led the excavation, the features of the underground site were typical of a cist burial ground of the Megalithic Age.
     The Department of Archaeology was alerted of the discovery two months ago when local people came across two rock slabs while digging up the ground for the construction of a house on a private property. A team led by Dr. Hemachandran launched the excavation after preliminary investigations pointed to a major find.
     The cist is four metres long, three metres high and 25 cm thick. The three chambers measure more than a metre in length and are three metres high. The team also unearthed iron weapons, earthen vessels in black and red and remains of molten iron. "Comparing them to other finds, we estimate them to date back to 100 BCE. In the absence of any carbon materials, we had to depend on comparative assessment," Dr. Hemachandran said.
     This is the first major excavation undertaken by the Department of Archaeology in Kollam after the discovery of a cairn circle in 1990. The cairn circle included a ring of small granite slabs known as orthostats. Radiocarbon dating conducted by the department revealed that the cairn circle dated back to 1000 BCE. Similar cists had been discovered at Idukki, Kottayam, Pathanamthitta and the hilly regions south east of Kollam. "It is the first time a cist is being unearthed in the western plains of Kollam. The rocks for the cist were brought from afar," Dr. Hemachandran said.
     The period between 1000 BCE and 500 CE is referred to as the Megalithic Culture in South India and is similar to the culture in Africa and Europe. The installation of big stones at burial grounds is a typical feature of this period as are earthen vessels, iron implements and iron ore.

Source: The Hindu (10 January 2009)

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