By Prof.P.Pushparatnam (Archaeological Coordinator – University of Jaffna)
The excavation work that is carried out at Kaddukarai kulam area recently is expected play an important role, in confirming that the Vanni area which has not attracted the attention of Archaeological and historical researchers, has an ancient and continuous history. Grama Officer, Samoorthy Officer and media men of the Nagapaduwan area which is located near the Mulankavil and Kumulamunai areas in Poonakari Divisional Secretary’s area had informed in the past to one of our final year students of the Archaeological Department, Banusankar about some archaeological remains they have seen in the area.
With the assistance of Archaeology Department Area controller P.Kapilan, the teachers and students of the Archaeology Department of the University of Jaffna had identified prospective areas and had commenced experimental excavations at the identified sites.
This area lies 50 Kilometers to the North East of Kaddukaraikulam, near the ruined tank in the jungle area of Kanamodai in Nagapaduvan. When an old and big tree got toppled some historically ancient remains had been exposed.
Some of the people who viewed these exposures with fear and awe had taken some of pieces to their homes without knowing their worth, breaking and throwing some others on the wayside.
But we were able to feel that large amounts of these ruins are extensively buried in the sub soil in the area. To confirm our intuition we did an experimental excavation of a pit 4M x 3M in extent at a selected spot.
Three cultural layers could be identified in the pit containing pot shreds belonging to several periods.
In forms and technology, they largely resemble the finds at Kaddukaraikulam. In the third cultural layer, along with clay utensils, baked clay figures and iron slakes were found.
The baked clay figures and clay utensils found in this cultural soil layer reflects the religious beliefs of ancient people who had populated this area. Especially mentionable are two figures of deities sitting on pedestals. There are square holes on all sides of the pedestals in order to facilitate carrying the idols in procession. Both legs of the deities in sitting position are hanging down adorned with Salankai(an ornament with tiny bells attached to chain and worn around the ankle.). Right hand of the deity is in a “Abayahastha” position while the left hand is in a “Varathahastha” position. Three bead shaped lumps are found are found on the palms of the Abayahastha. Their structural appearance reminds the art forms of statues, deities casted in copper, belonging to later periods. However, head pieces of these statues were found, largely in a disintegrated state. The ear pieces with star shaped ear studs and jaws which were found among them demonstrate the art traditions and high level technology of the people of the ancient times. Few more hands in broken state had been found with the statues. There are bead shaped lumps on the palms of these hands. Looking at them, we could think that they may be multi-handed deities.
Other Archaeological remains found in this excavation, with the statues, make us think that this may had been a centre for worshiping deities, by the ancient people. Cobra figures in several sizes, a turtle figure, ‘Akal Lamps’, temple bells, bull shaped sculpture, body parts of horses and elephants, ‘ Linga’ shapes, clay pans (Chattees) in several sizes, with cobra shapes lying along their brinks, etc. could be cited as examples. Two clay casts discovered with these artefacts are specially notable. On one side of these casts, some insignia formed by dots or some ancient letters are to be found. It could be believed that if they are interpreted by scholars, the periods of this settlement and religious remains could be determined.
In Tamil Nadu, statues of Deities, Kings, and religious symbols had been found in 2,500 year old settlements centering on water reservoirs. The deities found among them are called rural deities or countryside deities. There are evidences in the ‘Sangam’ period literatures and ancient Tamil literatures, that this tradition had continued in later periods. Two abandoned tank bunds are found in the jungle areas, in close proximity to the south and west of the area where such statues, sculptures and remains were found in Nagapaduwan. Hence, the religious remains which were recovered here could be considered as valuable evidence to settlements centering on tanks like Kaddukkarai Kulam, in ancient periods. There is no doubt in that these could be considered as important evidence acquired from researches on the ancient history of Eelam Tamils.
English translation of the article published in Valampuri Newspaper, Jaffna on 17/02/2017 – page 13