| 5 March 2012
Copper beads found inside an Indian megalithic site
Recent excavations at a megalithic site near Ramakkalmedu in the Idukki district (India) brought to light a series of earthen burial urns (nannagadis). The excavation team led by T. Rajesh discovered also copper beads near the main urn in a cell formed by stone slabs with a capstone. "This was the first time copper beads were found in a megalithic site," Mr. Rajesh said. He added the beads excavated can be considered as fine jewellery.
Archaeologists and historians had a common perception that the late Neolithic Age was immediately followed by the early Iron Age in South India. The new discovery contradicts this theory, as the newly discovered beads represent a clear evidence that copper was made during that period.
Mr. Rajesh said the jewellery proves the artistic skill of that ancient society. All the beads are of the same size and shape, and the holes inside the beads are finely-tuned. It shows that the transition of culture from the Neolithic to the Iron Age in southern India was a gradual one. The Neolithic and Chalcolithic cultures in the Deccan plateau had further extended to the south throughout the second millennium BCE, Mr. Rajesh added.
During the Neolithic-Chalcolithic times, the knowledge of metals was almost non-existent in South India. Most probably, the copper beads are imports from the central Indian Chalcolithic regions and they point to a culture link with the Harappan civilisation. The Ramakkalmedu megalithic site is located near an ancient trade route to low-lying areas of the present Tamil Nadu.
Along with the beads around the main urn, archaeologists discovered nine small pottery pieces of various sizes. The main urn was decorated and the pottery was thin and black, with a glossy surface. Raw clay used for making the pottery was found inside the burial chamber, as a filler for the gaps between the stone slabs.
Edited from The Hindu (26 February 2012)
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