Sunday, August 16, 2009

A write up on Sitthanavasal Megalithic sites

Here is an interesting link on Burial sites in Sitthannavasal By Sh.Subramanian Swaminathan
Please visit -

2500 Year old Skeletons and script found near Adhichanallur

An urn containing a human skull and bones unearthed by the Archaeological Survey of India at Adhichanallur, near Tirunelveli town in Tamil Nadu. Twelve of these urns (below) contain human skeletons. Three of them, which may be 2,800 years old, bear inscriptions that resemble the early Tamil Brahmi script. -- Photos: A. Shaikmohideen

Source - The Hindu

Megalithic burial site being destroyed near Madurai

An Iron Age burial site dotted with cairn circles, standing stones and cist-slabs, near Vellaripatti village near Madurai on the Madurai-Tiruchi highway (India), is being destroyed. Archaeologists date the megalithic site between 1000 BCE and 500 BCE. Real estate developers have uprooted and swept up hundreds of cairn circles (big stones arranged in the form of circles), standing stones and cist-slabs (rectangular granite slabs laid on the ground), all of which mark burial spots. Bulldozers have swept clean a big area that had earlier been crowded with cairn circles, standing stones and cist-slabs. Border stones have been planted in the cleaned-up area to indicate house sites. A fencing post has been erected close to a beautifully laid cairn circle, and it is only a matter of time before this cairn circle disappears.
For the full article-Please visit

Dolmens Near Palani

Number of tombs with burial chambers found at Periyapatti Kadu on the upper part of Kudhiraiyaru dam near Palani was remnants of Megalithic period.
Led by Professor S. Vairavel of Arul Migu Palani Andavar College of Arts and Culture, a special team of professors and archaeological experts, have found nine such tombs sprawling over two kilometre surroundings on the hill, which was 1,500 metre above sea level.
These gigantic structures were constructed by ancient people using un-chiselled large flat stone supported by several vertical ones.
The stones were arranged vertically and covered on top with 20 inch thick cat stones. One tomb was 4.6 metre long and 1.7 metre high, according to Dr. Vairavel here on Tuesday. “These are remnants of prehistoric and also the megalithic dolmens.”
Each tomb has several burial chambers to bury bodies of people.
The team also collected several broken earthen vessels.
Presence of broken earthen pots and plates not only confirmed that the place was a burial ground but also showed the belief of people after death.
These tombs were similar to the ones present in Munar and Maraiyur areas, he added.
Presence of tombs at such a height proved that people had lived on Western Ghats. It also explained development of culture, civilisation and life style of people belonging to Megalithic period.
A team, comprising members S. Balamurugan, M. Gopalakrishnan, C. Sri Raja, N. Mahesh Kumar M.S. Nattuthurai and G. Ragunathan conducted field study.
Thanks - The Hindu-Feb 04, 2009

Megalithic Site in Tiruvannamalai

Tiruvannamalai: A huge megalithic burial site said to have belonged to 3rd Century B.C. has been unearthed near Tiruvannamalai on July 14,2009
Human skeletal remains, iron daggers and a sword, decorated red and black earthen wares, a water jar with an exquisite stand, number of other potteries have been excavated from the cist, a box-like structure made of six huge undisturbed slab stones.
When a farmer of Sambandhanur near Tiruvannamalai was tilling a piece of land on the roadsidem, he stumbled upon the cap stone of this huge site. The slab stone looked odd and gave a tip that there was some hollow structure underneath. People thought there could be treasure and thronged the place. On receiving information Collector (in-charge) S. Viswanathan and tahsildar Murugan visited the spot and made arrangements to excavate the site immediately.
Archaeologist and professor of history R. Sekar who visited the site said that the sophistication with which the burial had been made points to the importance of the person buried at the site. Daggers and sword found with the skeletal remains should be used by the person, possibly a male, buried there. “He should be a small ruler or a head of clan or a chief of army. If it was an ordinary person there would not be so many grave goods accompanying his body,” he said.
After digging earth from the side, officials have removed the one side stone and recovered the objects from the burial. All the other five sides are still intact and it looks like a huge sub-surface niche.
“Thickness of the awesome cap stone is more than one and half feet. In no other megalithic burial site in the State such a huge cap stone has been found. The stone has 15 feet length and 8 feet width. There is a round shaped opening in one side of the wall stone. This means to allow ‘the spirit of the person buried there to come out and get in’ according to the legend of the ancient people. The style of the cist burial and materials found inside indicate that the burial belongs to approximately 3rd century B.C. or earlier. This site is comparable only to such megalithic burials unearthed in places like Adityanallur and Kodumanal. However Sambandhanur site seems superior both in terms of size and antiquity” Mr. Sekar said.
“The place would be made a monument and in order to enable people to visit the place and to remember what kind of people lived in their neighbourhood in the ages of distant past” Tahsildar Murugan said. Epigraphist and Tamil professor V. Nedunchezhiyan also accompanied the mission.
Source. The Hindu Dated July 17,2009

What is a stone circle?

A stone circle is an ancient monument of standing stones. It is not always precisely circular, often forming an ellipse, or more rarely a setting of four stones laid on an arc of a circle. The sizes of the standing stones has a lot of diversity. The number of stones can vary between 4 and 60. (Thanks Wikipedia)
The photo above shows such a stone circle in Sithannavasal

What is a barrow?

A barrow may refer to a tumulus, a large mound of earth or stone placed over a burial site .(Thanks Wikipedia)

What is a Cairn?

A cairn (carn in Irish, carnedd in Welsh, càrn in Scots Gaelic) is a manmade pile of stones, often in a conical form. They are usually found in uplands, on moorland, on mountaintops or near waterways.(Thanks Wikipedia)

What is a cist?

A cist is a small stone-built coffin-like box or ossuary used to hold the bodies of the dead. Examples can be found all over the world. A cist may have been associated with other monuments, perhaps under a cairn or long barrow. It would not be uncommon to find several cists close together within the same cairn or barrow. Often ornaments have been found within an excavated cist, indicating the wealth or prominence of the interred individual.

What is a Dolmen?

A dolmen (also known as cromlech (Welsh), anta, Hünengrab, Hunebed, Goindol, quoit, and portal dolmen) is a type of single-chamber megalithic tomb, usually consisting of three or more upright stones supporting a large flat horizontal capstone (table). Most date from the early Neolithic period (4000 to 3000 BC). Dolmens were usually covered with earth or smaller stones to form a barrow, though in many cases that covering has weathered away, leaving only the stone "skeleton" of the burial mound intact.(Courtesy : Wikipedia)

The dolmen shown above is from Megalithic burial site Mallachandiram near Krishnagiri.
The Archaeology department has taken steps to preserve this 2000-year-old megalithic burial site — reckoned to be the largest in Tamil Nadu

More than 200 dolmens (tombs) of four types, dating back to the megalithic period (3 BC-3 Common Era), are found in the village. These include Cairn circles and tombs of migratory tribes. A majority of the dolmens were built of vertical slabs with portholes on the eastern side. Rectangular slabs, similar to railings, encircle these structures, which have passages made out of small rectangular slabs.

Inside the dolmens are paintings portraying human figures, bows and arrows, animals and symbols (Source The Hindu -