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Dating Poompuhar, resolving an issue

Over the previous few years, if there was once one declare that attracted unanimous denunciation from archaeologists as “unscientific”, it was once the declare of a geologist that the traditional port town of Poompuhar flourished 15,000 years in the past, off the prevailing day Kaveripoompattinam village in Mayiladuthurai district, Tamil Nadu.

He had claimed that the Poompuhar harbour was once 11 km lengthy, 2.5 km extensive and had 70-80 docks for berthing ships. The harbour was once discovered 30 km-40 km from the prevailing day shore. There have been human settlements round, and a lighthouse with a spiral staircase, too.

Archaeologists around the spectrum misplaced no time in knocking the ground out of this declare at the grounds that it was once illogical. 15,000 years in the past, it was once the Microlithic Age within the Indian sub-continent when human-beings had been hunter-gatherers. They’d no longer even learnt to cultivate livestock then. The declare had “no clinical foundation” as a result of no underwater exploration was once performed, archaeologists stated. No archaeologist was once concerned within the workout. It relied best on remote-sensing pictures, which might no longer expose whether or not they had been herbal formations below the ocean or man-made buildings. No date may well be assigned to an archaeological website online with best remote-sensing pictures, professionals argued.

The declare was once made by means of geologist SM. Ramasamy, Nationwide Coordinator, Undertaking Poompuhar, Division of Far off-sensing, Bharathidasan College, Tiruchi, at a press convention on January 20, 2023. He stated some of the primary findings of a study learn, headed by means of him, was once that the port town of Poompuhar was once no longer 2,500 years outdated as it’s extensively believed, however “seems to be greater than 15,000 years outdated. It thus seems to be some of the oldest port towns on the earth.”

This got here to gentle when the learn to “digitally reconstruct the excellent life-history of Poompuhar” was once undertaken over a space of about 1,000 sq. kilometres within the offshore space of the Bay of Bengal, off Kaveripoompattinam, Dr. Ramasamy stated. The learn was once performed with Indian Far off-sensing Satellite tv for pc pictures and the Normal Bathymetry Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO). The Nationwide Institute of Ocean Era (NIOT), Chennai, chipped in with Multi-beam Echo Sounder (MBES) knowledge. The survey was once performed for roughly 30 km to 40 km from the shore at a intensity of fifty metres to 100 metres within the sea.

A remark issued by means of Dr. Ramasamy stated the port town of Poompuhar was once “found out” undersea. It lined 250 sq. km. It was once “inferred” that the harbour was once 11 km lengthy within the north-south course and was once 2.5 km extensive. There have been lengthy canals working north-south. There have been east-west cross-canals. The previous was once for the motion of giant vessels and the latter for turning them. There have been 70 to 80 docks over 30 km for berthing the ships, the remark stated.

North of the harbour, there was once a (human) agreement with a cluster of homes over 4 sq. km. But even so, a row of settlements with compound partitions was once “inferred”. The settlements throughout the compound partitions had been intact as a result of the security introduced by means of the partitions. However in every other agreement, discovered 10 km south-east of the harbour, the compound partitions had been intact however the homes inside of “had been utterly buried below the sand”, the remark stated.

Poompuhar, now known as Kaveripoompattinam, has had an fascinating historical past of explorations and excavations. Archaeologists say Poompuhar existed about 2,500 years in the past close to the confluence of the Cauvery with the Bay of Bengal. About 1,000 years in the past, it went below water, submerged possibly by means of a tsunami or tidal motion. Excavations on land, geophysical surveys in the ocean off Kaveripoompattinam and underwater explorations by means of skilled divers-cum-archaeologists within the Nineteen Eighties and the Nineties printed man-made buildings, wharfs and ceramic subject matter, which may well be dated again  to the third century BCE to fifth century CE. 

Archaeologists and lecturers throughout Tamil Nadu had no hesitation in brushing apart Ramasamy’s claims as “unscientific knowledge” and missing in common sense.

V. Selvakumar, Head, Division of Maritime Historical past and Marine Archaeology, Tamil College, Thanjavur, stated, “We have now number one proof for the lifestyles of hunter-gatherers throughout South Asia 15,000 years in the past. That is established clinical study.” Any one, who’s accustomed to archaeological study, would say it might were inconceivable for prehistoric people to construct one of these giant harbour with dockyards, human settlements and a lighthouse. The options observed in remote-sensing pictures dispensed by means of Dr. Ramasamy “could also be some roughly herbal formations or different forms of formations and so they should be investigated additional”, he added. Dr. Selvakumar is additionally Coordinator, Centre for Indian Ocean Research.

Shanti Pappu, former Professor of Prehistory, Deccan School Postgraduate and Analysis Institute, Pune, stated, “Round 15,000-20,000 years in the past, South Asia was once occupied by means of prehistoric populations making stone equipment. Those had been hunter-gatherers adapting to quite a lot of ecological contexts throughout this area. I, subsequently, sit up for chronometric dates from the websites below investigation and involvement of archaeologists in those interdisciplinary research.”

An completed archaeologist-cum-academic, who has excavated a number of websites in Tamil Nadu, argued how even the Indus Valley Civilisation didn’t exist 15,000 years in the past. So the most recent declare about Poompuhar had “no clinical foundation”. He requested, “Had been human beings sea-faring then? Did they know ship-building generation? Did they know astronomy? Society at the moment was once no longer even agro-pastoral.”

The archaeologist-cum-academic identified that Dr. Ramasamy had claimed that the then Poompuhar’s harbour was once 11 km lengthy, 2.5 km extensive and had 70 to 80 docks. “With whom did the folk of Poompuhar business with one of these giant port? What had been the commodities exported and imported? Even the Shanghai port nowadays in China isn’t so giant,” he stated.

Even on land, no city agreement has been found out, which is 15,000 years outdated, he stated.

What has galled archaeologists is that the claims had been made with none artefacts being produced. No underwater exploration was once performed. There have been no archaeologists or divers in Dr. Ramasamy’s crew. The findings had been in accordance with remote-sensing pictures. 

Far off-sensing pictures of the buildings below the ocean would no longer expose whether or not they had been herbal formations or man-made buildings, asserted a tender archaeologist, who didn’t wish to be quoted by means of title. “The use of remote-sensing pictures, you’ll be able to supply details about the geographical options of a space, together with a space which is below water. Alternatively, you can not give a date to an archaeological website online the usage of remote-sensing pictures. A date can also be given best by means of underwater excavation.”

There are a number of strategies comparable to speeded up mass spectrometry (AMS), optically stimulated luminescence (OSL), thermo luminescent relationship (TLD), carbon-14 manner, uranium relationship and many others., to decide the age of an archaeological website online or an artefact. 

The formations observed within the pictures supplied by means of Dr. Ramasamy will have been shaped by means of wave motion. “Whether or not they’re herbal formations or man-made buildings can also be decided best by means of snorkel diving the ocean and exploring the realm,” the archaeologist stated.

To return to the historical past of Poompuhar, it was once a hectic port of Sangam age Chola kings. (The Sangam age is datable from the 3rd century BCE to 3rd century CE). It reportedly flourished about 2,500 years in the past. The port was once located close to the mouth of the Cauvery. Traders from other portions of India and South East Asia traded items there. Poompuhar is well known in Sangam age poems comparable to Silappadhikaram, Manimegalai, Pattinappalai, Purananuru and Agananuru. Town was once dominated by means of Sangam age Chola rulers comparable to Ilanchetchenni, Killivalavan, Karikalvalavan and others.

Poompuhar held a fascination for M. Karunanidhi, the overdue Tamil Nadu Leader Minister. He arrange a Silappadhikaram Artwork Gallery there within the Nineteen Seventies when he was once the Leader Minister.

Onland excavation happened first in 1981 at the shore of Kaveripoompattinam. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) did it below the steerage of S.R. Rao and Okay.V. Raman. The excavations printed some buildings at the shore: a wharf at Keezhaiyur, a reservoir at Vanagiri and a Buddha vihara at Melaiyur.

Therefore, a initial geophysical survey of the ocean, off Kaveripoompattinam, happened in 1981 below the steerage of Dr. S.R. Rao and R. Nagaswamy. The latter was once then Director of the Tamil Nadu State Division of Archaeology (TNSDA). This survey was once performed collectively by means of the TNSDA and the Nationwide Institute of Oceanography (NIO), says a document revealed all over a workshop hung on September 29, 1994. Okay.H. Vora of the NIO took phase on this geophysical survey, which deployed a side-scan sonar, an echo sounder and a magnetometer. In accordance with the survey’s findings, which incorporated 3 “peaks”, about two to a few metres tall, the NIO urged that an extensive underwater exploration be made by means of divers. The NIO despatched its findings to the TNSDA in 1987.

Therefore, in 3 underwater explorations that happened within the Nineties, Okay. Rajan, who retired as Professor of Historical past, Central College, Pondicherry, took phase. He dived, too. Dr. Rajan, an completed archaeologist and excavator, is a expert scuba diver. He found out a round stone construction, made of 3 lessons of stone, on the easternmost finish of the website online. It was once a synthetic construction. Dr. S.R. Rao declared that it was once a part of a lighthouse.

Natana. Kasinathan, in his e-book written in Tamil titled ‘ Poompuharum, Kadal Agazhvayvum’ (Poompuhar and Underneath-sea Explorations), says the underwater exploration started on February 25, 1991, below the steerage of Dr. S.R. Rao and himself. Dr. Kasinathan took over because the Director of State Division of Archaeology in 1988 from Dr. Nagaswamy. The e-book ‘ Poompuharum, Kadal Agazhvayvum’ was once revealed in 1992 by means of Tirunelveli, Then Indhiya Saiva Siddhantha Nool Pathippu Kazhagam, Chennai.

Within the 1991 underwater exploration performed by means of divers and during which a side-scan sonar and an echo-sounder had been used aboard a vessel, 3 man-made buildings had been discovered. Within the underwater exploration performed with reference to the shore from January 27, 1993 to February 28, 1993, a number of brick buildings had been discovered. Consistent with Dr. Kasinathan, those brick buildings may well be dated from the second one century BCE to the fourth century CE.

A large paleo-channel of the Cauvery was once discovered at the sea-bed.

Since ceramics, comparable to black and purple ware, and black ware belonging to the Megalithic length and buff ware had been discovered with reference to the man-made construction, constructed with 3 lessons of stones, below the ocean off Vanagiri village, they may well be dated to the 3rd century BCE, he added.

Within the underwater exploration, performed by means of divers once more from February 4, 1997 to March 12, 1997, remnants of a construction constructed with laterite stones had been found out. Thus, the date of Poompuhar may well be circa 5th century BCE, this is, 2,500 years earlier than the prevailing, archaeologists stated.

When requested how he had estimated that Poompuhar existed about 15,000 years in the past, Dr. Ramasamy stated, “We have now established that the traditional coastline existed 15,000 years in the past.” The ocean-level knowledge, accrued by means of 3-d elevation fashions, indicated it. “Clearly, the harbour should were constructed there on the similar time.” On why he didn’t use divers or stay archaeologists in his crew, he spoke back, “We have now found out the buildings now. We will be able to take photos the usage of ROVs (remotely operated cars) within the subsequent level of our research-study. After the ROVs, we can plan for diving.”

However no archaeologist, price his salt, is satisfied that the port of Poompuhar existed about 15,000 years in the past with a harbour, dockyards, a lighthouse et al.

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