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25 June 2004
Urn burials in Tamil Nadu

Urn burials in Tamil Nadu

Six Neolithic burial urns have been discovered by farmers close to the village of Kuvalakarai in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu (India). The urns, known in Tamil as “mudhumakkal thaazhi” (large pots for the old) are seen as adding to the evidence that urn burial was the predominant mode of internment in the region. The find follows on from the discovery of another large burial ground at Adichanallur, also near Tirunelveli, two months ago. The latest find is close to another rich archaeological site, Girivalamvandha Nallur, where a trove of Roman and Chinese coins and medallions were found several years ago.
     Megalithic burials are scattered through the south eastern peninsula and there is a heavy concentration of graves using huge stones in their construction in Tamil Nadu. According to K.S. Ramachandran, a past member of the Archaeological Survey of India, the Stone Age was “essentially represented by a group of funerary monuments” in Tamil Nadu. Urn burials are not always delimited by a ring of stones – the distinguishing feature is a pit just large enough to receive the interment. “The urns are typically large, up to 172 cm in height and 272 cm in circumference at the belly,” says Ramachandran. These most recent artefacts contained fragile skeletal bone pieces and smaller earthen pots. The smaller vessels are likely to have contained grain and food, physical nourishment for the spirit in the afterlife.

Source: The Telegraph – Calcutta Nation (21 June 2004)

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