Published on: April 28, 2022
A megalithic burial cluster close to a site of human habitation belonging to the Iron Age has been discovered near Kollegal in Chamarajanagar district
imitatively AT THE SITE
- Megaliths in India are generally dated from 1,500 BC or earlier to 5th century BC and are some of the earliest records of prehistoric society
- Discovered at Budipadaga in Hanur taluk abutting the BRT Tiger Reserve and M.M. Hills Wildlife Sanctuary this is one of the rare findings or examples of both human habitation and burial clusters in close proximity.
- As many as 40 burial sites were reported by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in the 1960s
- When the team set out to survey the area it could locate some of the sites reported by the ASI and in the process it stumbled upon evidence of human habitation in Budipadaga. The team recovered broken fragments of pottery apart from animal bones and was led to the site of the burial cluster by the local villagers.
- The burials are in the form of cairn circles or stone circle with boulders. The largest megalith is 9 metres in diameter while another is 6 metres and the smallest is 4.5 metres in diameter
- The discovery of habitation site and burial cluster at the same place is interesting as it indicates continuity of a culture that existed since prehistoric times in the region
- It also raises questions as to how people lived in this landscape and whether the area was part of an ancient route connecting to other regions, according to the team excavating the site
- The current excavation is expected to find evidence to correlate the data from burial site with the habitation
WHAT ARE MEGALITHS?
- Earliest surviving man-made monuments
- Latin – mega (large) and lith (stone)
- Constructed either as burial sites or commemorative (non-sepulchral) memorials
- The urn or the sarcophagus containing the mortal remains was usually made of terracotta
- Non-sepulchral megaliths include memorial sites such as menhirs. (The line separating the two is a bit blurry, since remains have been discovered underneath otherwise non-sepulchral sites, and vice versa.)
- In India, archaeologists trace the majority of the megaliths to the Iron Age (1500 BC to 500 BC), though some sites precede the Iron Age, extending up to 2000 BC
- Spread across the Indian subcontinent, though the bulk of them are found in peninsular India, concentrated in the states of Maharashtra (mainly in Vidarbha), Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
- A living megalithic culture endures among some tribes such as the Gonds of central India and the Khasis of Meghalaya.
- Megalithic culture finds several references in ancient Tamil Sangam literature. For instance, menhirs are referred to as nadukal.
- Ancient Sangam texts lay out, in detail, a step-by-step procedure for laying a memorial stone or nadukal in honour of a fallen hero.
- Manimekalai (5th century AD), the famous Sangam epic, refers to the various kinds of burials namely cremation (cuṭuvōr), post excarnation burial (iṭuvōr), burying the deceased in a pit (toṭukuḻip paṭuvōr), rock chamber or cist burial (tāḻvāyiṉ aṭaippōr), urn burial encapped with lid (tāḻiyiṟ kavippōr).
- Even in the Sangam age (when kingship and a well-ordained society had emerged) the above modes of burials survived