Project documents prehistoric remains in Idukki district

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A team of archaeologists have surveyed over 400 monuments of the prehistoric period in Devikulam taluk as part a project to document megalithic sites in Idukki district. 

A survey team of the Kerala State Archaeological Department inspecting a rock-shelter believed to be 2,500 to 3,000 years old at Vayumala, near Alampetty, in Devikulam taluk [Credit: The Hindu]

Burial urns, dolmen, stone cist and artefacts of the megalithic period have been surveyed in the Marayur, Koviloor and Kanthallur areas in the first phase. Most of the remains have been found to be in a state of ruin, with time and human interference inflicting damage. The survey has thrown light on the methods used by prehistoric men for burial. 

Kerala State Archaeological Department Director K.K. Mohanan Pillai told The Hindu recently that the survey would mark areas which needed further exploration. The findings from the sites will be scientifically preserved. 

“It is for the first time in the State that different types of burial sites have been found clustered in a specific area,” says E. Dinesan, an archaeologist and field coordinator of the project. Primary data show that Devikulam has perhaps the largest collection of varied burial sites — dolmens, burials urns and single upright stones. In other megalithic sites in the State, only single specimens have been found. 

The team also inspected three rock-shelter sites at Alampetty. Red ochre petroglyphs inside various caves show a pattern, underlining a particular period of their origin, he said. 

The survey, which began on February 26, will continue in other regions of historic importance. It will cover all taluks in the district, Mr. Mohanan Pillai says. 

The project is being undertaken with the cooperation of the Forest Department as some areas of archaeological importance are inside the forest, he says. 

The department will start documenting historically important sites of the entire State from next year. Areas identified as most important historic sites will be protected. 

Source: The Hindu [March 21, 2011]

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