Professor P. Pushparatnam, Archaeological Coordinator, University of Jaffna
Kaddukkarai is a small village located near Vaddalkkandal, at a distance of 26 Kms to the North East of Mannar District. This village which had come into existence centering on the tank, which became to be known as Yodawewa in Sinhala and Kaddukkarai kulam in Tamil.
However, nearly fifty years ago, this tank and few villages located around it were known as Palapperumal kaddu, it is learnt. As one of the largest Tanks in Sri Lanka, which are historically ancient, this tank has an ancient and continuous history.
This fact has been confirmed by archaeological evidences of ancient settlements widely found inside the Kaddukkarai tank and the jungle area adjacent to the Northward bund of the Tank. Although currently this area has been invaded by jungle due to people living here being displaced in recent years, the ancient evidences that are being recovered here identify that these are ancestral areas where people lived widespread.
Mr. David, a teacher and a resident of the area had understood the historical value of some pot –shreds which had been washed up at Kuruvila, through which water flows from the Northern Bund. He had informed this to a final year student Kirishanthan of the Archaeological Faculty, which paved the way for the now six months of Archeological research which had been under taken in conjunction with Archaeology Special students.
During the surface survey here, several types of Archaeological signs were recovered, which belong to different periods, from Stone Age to thirteenth century. It is notable that, few types of stone – tools, clay utensils of the megalithic period, stone beads, Bangles iron tools, evidence of work shops where stone beads, clay utensils, conch shells were produced during the period, when this culture prevailed.
Imported clay utensils, valuable stone beads, glass articles, foreign coins which were discovered here confirm the fact that, the settlers of this area who had reached civilized state long before Christian era, had very close commercial relationships with countries such as India, central Asia and China. It is notable that coins belonging to 13th century, especially the coins inscribed with the name “Chavakan”. The epigraph of Pandyars belonging to the year 1962 says about the Chavakan kingdom which existed prior to the kingdom of Jaffna, in Northern Sri Lanka.
Contemporary Pali and Sinhala literatures describe about Chavakan royal dominions existing at Mannar, Mannar town, Mathottam and Kurunthy. In such a context, the recovery of Chavakan coins at Kuruvil in this area, indicates that the place referred to as kuruvil in Pali and Sinhala literatures may be the place known as Kurunthy. Hindu religious ruins discovered during this Archaeological survey points out to the ancientness of Hindu religion and this had drawn the attention of many towards Kaddukkarai. As these ruins have been found in a systematic Archaeological excavation they may urge, in the future, the re-evaluation of the former concepts and conclusions regarding the origination of Hindu Religion in Eeelam . This excavation was under taken in five, 3m x 3m pits until the natural soil layer was reached. From the third cultural soil layer of these pits, which consist of cultural layers belonging to, three different periods, a brick foundation was discovered.
The excessive water flow into this area had caused the water level to rise and in the process had damaged the super structure over the foundation and the debris of the mud wall are found buried in the sand in the tank area. Baked clay sculptures, statues, bead, earthen Lamps, Baked pot shreds, marked with religious symbols, crests and markings were found here. Considering the evidences recovered here, it could be said that these building ruins could be a temple or a place where religious rites had been performed.
There are reliable evidence to show that the artifacts related to Hindu religion were adopted from megalithic culture that prevailed 2500 years ago. This tradition was adhered in contemporary Sri Lanka. It is said that the religious signs found in the Kaddukkarai excavations stands as evidences to this. The religious artifacts had been made with clay, mixed with river sand and paddy husk or hay and later baked.
Although, their art traditions resemble baked clay figures found in south India and southern Sri Lanka, several baked clay figures show that the art traditions and technology of these artifacts unique to the people of this area. Some religious signs found in this area are not known to be found in either other areas of Sri Lanka or Tamil Nadu, to date. Hence some conflicting opinion are prevailing in interpreting them as they were newly discovered in Kaddukkarai
Several figures and signs reminding several types of deity worship were found here. A Lingam with Aavudai, different types of Nanthy, parts of Nanthy and Lingams, Tridents, crescent, are related to Sivan. Female statutes could be linked Sakthy. Spear and peacock remind Murugan. Cobra figures are showing that Naga worship may have prevailed here. The figures coming out from small pots are reminding of Agathiar worship. The Vinayagar figures which were found in large numbers, make us think that Vinayaga worship had been predominant here.
However the large number of evidences found in the place which is assumed to be a temple or place where religious rites are held and the historical back ground of the location of Kaddukkarai tank near it, we could say that the prime deity of this area should have been Aiyanar.
The tradition of placing Aiyanar near water reservoirs for economic propriety, protecting from natural disasters and protecting from wild beasts, and worshiping him is very ancient in Tank settlements originated along megalithic culture, in southern Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka. Although ancient evidence relevant to Aiyanar worship had been found in Tamil Nadu, they were rarely found. It had been pointed out as an important feature that several types of evidence were found together in a very narrow research pit. An archaeological expert Godakumpura had said 50 years ago, that, the baked clay figures are ancient evidence of Sivan – Sakthy worship. Although these signs have been recovered from Kaddukkarai excavations, It is specially notable that a baked clay Sivalingam has been recovered only here.
Some experts say that the beads used in Hindu Temples were the influence of Christian religion. But the recovery of large number of beads of the same shape, from Kaddukkarai excavations shows that there is an ancient history in Sri Lanka for their art tradition.
Further research had to be done to firmly determine the periods of the Hindu religious signs.
However, Dr Puspakumara and Palitha who have expert knowledge in dating, using the edges of clay post shreds, say that the Kaddukkarai finds may be more than 1400 years old ; But the Tamil Nadu archeologists, Professors, Rasan, Selva Kumar and Rasavelu say that they are more than 2000 years old. That is they are linked to megalithic culture.
Some coins, whose period could be determined, had been recovered closer to the excavation pits. 2 coins among them were more than 2200 years old. One of them is a silver coin minted and first issued 2300 years ago in India. The discovery of this coin in Kaddukkarai definitely shows that people have lived in Kaddukkarai contemporarily and that they are civilized enough to have commercial links with India.
Several evidences are available to show that prior to metal coins being minted, baked clay coins were used in south Asia. Such coins had been found in the field study and also from the pits where Hindu religious signs were discovered.
These evidences urge the research regarding the period of origin, taken further back.
Published in Valampuri Newspaper on 27/12/2016