Bone remains found inside a burial urn believed to be of Iron Age

The bone remains found inside the nannangady (burial urn) believed to be of the Iron Age, recently excavated from a construction site near Ramakkalmedu in Idukki district, throw up the possibility of carbon dating for further studies.

The site is located at Thovalappady en route to Ramakkalmedu from Thookkupalam and it is one of the many sites of megalithic remains excavated in the district. K.T. Rajesh, historian, who led the excavation, said an in-depth technical study of the bone remains could provide data on the period of the burial urn. The discovery shows that a society which revered the dead and a prominent civilisation existed in the eastern hills of the district.

The nannangady is about a metre tall and its brim had a diameter of about 12 inches. The top of the urn was covered with a round stone slab. Two small pots shaped like a coconut and a bowl having a diameter of about eight inches were placed near the urn.

“The red and black pottery is remarkable as it denotes the Dravidian expansion to south India,” Mr. Rajesh said. It was the first time that a human bone was found in a nannangady and this biological element was very important because it would open the window for scientific studies, he said.

The bones collected will be sent for scientific experiments soon. Megalithic evidence like dolmens (muniyaras), table stones, burial urns and historic stones believed to be of BC 1050 and AD 300 was discovered at various locations in the eastern parts of the district. It is believed that an administrative hierarchy in Keezhmalanadu with a supporting civilisation existed in the interior areas of the present Thodupuzha spread over the Western Ghats.

P.J. Cherian, director of the Kerala Council for Historical Research, told The Hindu that the Pattanam excavation had opened up the possibility of further study of the valuable historical remains in Idukki district too. Though they have been classified broadly, it needs specific study to establish the period of each historical remains, he said. “Burial urns and dolmens are mortuary remains of a society and it is true that a civilisation spreading its roots to the interior areas remained in the district,” Dr. Cherian said. Serious studies were needed on the complex architecture of the megalithic era. These historical remains throw light on the actual life of that period and the practices followed by a society which is different from the other. He said that such remains had been unearthed in many areas but a historical map had not been prepared so far.

The district administration has drawn up a project, ‘Discovering Idukki,' in its annual budget for 2011-'12 to protect the megalithic sites and initiate studies into them.