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18 August 2010
Iron age megalithic structures found in India

Archaeologist D. Dayalanat announced recently the discovery of more than 500 megalithic structures at Sengalur village in Tamil Nadu, India. Believed to be dating back to about 500-300 BCE, Iron Age South Indian megalithic burial sites have been found during excavations carried out in an area of about 25 hectares.
     Excavations begun on April 13, 2010 have come to a close now as activities are feasible only during non-rainy days; the dig will be resumed next year, Dayalan said. Excavations revealed cultural deposits starting from the medieval period and continuing up to the early historic/iron age period. Dayalan said some of the materials have been sent to testing laboratories across the country to analyse the metallurgy, chemical combinations, architectural and designing techniques besides a C-14 dating process.
     Findings include stone circles of laterite or granite boulders made with cairn packing, cist burials of different types, pit burials and urn burials with and without capstones. A special feature discovered was the rectangular shaped structure of an Iron Age sepulchral monument - this was unique and has not been found anywhere else in South India except for a single site at Sittannavasal in the same district. The excavations also yielded objects like potteries of different shapes and sizes, including bi-coloured (red and black) pots, and iron objects. Copper items like bowls, lids, ring stands, decorative pieces etc. have also been unearthed.
     The boulders of the stone circles and the rectangular structure are large in size, measuring four feet long, three feet high and 1.5 feet in width, and weigh 500 kg to one tonne. An iron making furnace was also found at the site, and a number of iron objects such as knives, sickles and daggers have been found at the site. The settlement yielded many terracotta figurines, fragmentary parts and potsherds even with graffiti marks, analogous to those found in Harappa. Other objects collected include glass beads, beads of semi-precious stone, ornaments made of pure gold, bangles etc. Discovery of glass blowing pipes revealed that there was a glass beads manufacturing facility in the vicinity.

Sources: The Hindu, Deccan Herald (12 August 2010)

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