Call to protect ancient burial sites in the Nilgiris

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Observing that the Nilgiris has always provided abundant material for pre-historic research and kept alive interest in the megalithic era in South India, a senior researcher called for the protection of ancient burial sites existing in the district.

Call to protect ancient burial sites in the Nilgiris
A miniature buffalo artefact collected at an ancient burial site near Ooty [Credit: New Indian Express]

M. Ravichandran, a senior artist with the Government Museum and Art Gallery in Ooty, explained that four burial sites had been discovered in the Nilgiris since the 19th Century at Stone Circle, Cairn Circle, Dolmen and Draw Well Cairn. He had recently collected fragments of a miniature buffalo-head made of unique stones from an ancient burial site of the Toda tribal community at School Mund on the outskirts of the hill station.

He said, “During my visit to the ancient burial site of Draw Well Cairn near School Mund, I came across a number of terracotta figurine relics. These could be termed ‘grave goods’. The figures include an elephant trunk, buffalo heads, horns, punch-marked animal bodies and some pot shreds. J W Breeks was the first British archaeologist to excavate artifacts from megalithic burial sites of the Nilgiris in 1873, which have been kept at museums in London, Berlin and Madras. Actually, the pre-historic monuments have been vandalised by natural calamities and human interruption. Hence, protection of ancient burial sites will be much useful for those interested in research and those visiting the Nilgiris.”

According to him, the custom of erecting tombs to pay homage to departed ancestors prevailed among the megalithic people in different times in most parts of the world, starting from the Neolithic era.

Different theories existed among scholars regarding the origin and diffusion of the megalithic people. Indian megalithic culture dated back to 1,000 BC and the heritage of the Nilgiris could be traced from the pre-historic period, that is 2,000 years ago.

Author: R. Haldorai | Source: The New Indian Express [February 04, 2013]

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