An archaeological dig at Kodumanal in Tamil Nadu reveals what big business was like 2,300 years ago. T E Narasimhan on ancient factories and foreign trade
It is a long, tiring journey to Kodumanal, a tiny village in western Tamil Nadu — a place virtually unheard of until archaeologists recently unearthed a 2,500-year-old industrial estate there. The trip from Chennai to this inland village happens in three stages: eight-hour bus ride to Erode (district headquarters), two-hour bus ride to Kangeyam (small town in the textile district of Tirupur), final bus ride to Kodumanal.
The last leg is the most interesting. At first the rickety bus passes farmland and pretty bungalows, but then the surroundings grow barren. There is only the occasional coconut tree. It is hard to believe that this area once held a thriving town. Modern Kodumanal has just around 1,000 people; to make a living they breed cattle and work in the nearby textile town of Tirupur.
The chatty bus conductor asks, “Sir, are you from the archaeological department?” When I shake my head, he says, “So many people from the archaeological department come here these days that I assumed you were one of them.” Read more.
(thehindu.com) - Kodumanal in Erode district never stops yielding.
Renewed archaeological excavation in the village in April and May this year by the Department of History, Pondicherry University, has yielded a bonanza again. The artefacts unearthed from four trenches in the habitational mound have revealed an industrial complex that existed around fourth century BCE. The industries in the complex made iron and steel, textiles, bangles out of conch-shells and thousands of exquisite beads from semi-precious stones such as sapphire, beryl, quartz, lapis-lazuli, agate, onyx, carnelian and black-cat eye, and ivory.
Terracotta spindle whorls for spinning cotton and a thin gold wire were found in the complex, which has also thrown up 130 potsherds with Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions, including 30 with Tamil-Brahmi words. Read more.