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3000-year-old dolmens throw light on last rites

In a discovery that is expected to throw light on burial or funeral practices in the Southern parts of the state in the pre-historic era, a group of archaeologists on Sunday found four dolmens (portal tombs) that are believed to be more than 3,000 years old at Amairkaradu near the Western Ghats in Palani.

3000-year-old dolmens throw light on last rites
The site where four 3,000-year-old dolmens were found by an archaeological team near the Western Ghats, close to Palani in Dindigul district, on Sunday [Credit: Indian Express]
V. Narayanamoorthy, Secretary of the Tamil Nadu Archaeology Research Institute, who led the team that discovered the relics, told Express that the find confirms Palani’s importance as a major site that has several traces of ancient history.

“For the past five months, we found many inscriptions and stone structures in Palani,” Narayanamoorthy affirmed. He explained that the dolmens would help archaeologists understand ancient funeral rites that had long existed in Tamil Nadu.

“People would place a body in between stones that had been carved for the purpose and close it with a large size rock on top,” said Narayanamoorthy.

While three of the dolmens were found with significant damage and offered little prospect for extensive research, the fourth one was unique for its small size.

This structure is 6.32 metres long and about 5 metres wide and was built using small stones and plaster.

He said this was a rare find in Asia as other dolmens discovered in the continent were built using much larger stones.

Local residents used to call this dolmen ‘Pandyan Veedu’ (King Pandya’s Home) as they believed that one of the kings of the Pandyan dynasty was buried here. However, Narayanamoorthy said this was likely to be a false belief.

Source: The New Indian Express [June 03, 2013]

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