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  India   All India  20 Sep 2019  ‘Tamils were literate as early as 6th century BC’

‘Tamils were literate as early as 6th century BC’

THE ASIAN AGE. | J.V. SIVA PRASANNA KUMAR
Published : Sep 20, 2019, 2:40 am IST
Updated : Sep 20, 2019, 2:40 am IST

They also say that Tamils of the Sangam period were literate, as early as 6th century BCE.

These graffiti marks are the one evolved or transformed from Indus script and served as precursor for the emergence of Brahmi script. (Representational photo)
 These graffiti marks are the one evolved or transformed from Indus script and served as precursor for the emergence of Brahmi script. (Representational photo)

CHENNAI: Archaeologists researching the Keezhadi excavations in Sivagangai district of Tamil Nadu, on the banks of Vaigai river, say the artefacts and graffiti symbols seem pretty much similar to the signs seen in the Indus civilisation excavations.

They also say that Tamils of the Sangam period were literate, as early as 6th century BCE.

Artefacts found at the site in Keezhadi, about 12 km from Madurai, push back the date of Tamil-Brahmi script to another century i.e. 6th century BCE. These results clearly ascertained that they attained literacy or learned the art of writing as early as 6th century BCE.

A report released by the Tamil Nadu archaeological department on Thursday explaining the significance of the finding said the recovery of 1,001 graffiti sherds from Keeladi excavation recalled the preliminary writing expressions of the Iron Age people.

One kind of script that survived between the disappearance of Indus script and the emergence of Brahmi script is called as graffiti marks by the scholars.

These graffiti marks are the one evolved or transformed from Indus script and served as precursor for the emergence of Brahmi script. Therefore, these graffiti marks cannot be set aside as mere scratches.

“Like Indus script, this also could not be deciphered till date. These graffiti marks were found in Chalcolithic culture as well as in Megalithic culture,” the report said.

Earlier excavations at Adichchanallur, Korkai, Alagankulam, Koduman-al, Karur, Teriruveli, Uraiyur, Mangulam, Perur and all other places yielded such type of graffiti inscribed potsherds were recovered.

Beyond Tamil Nadu, these marks were recovered from the sites such as Tissamaharama, Kantaro-dai, Manthai and Rithiya-gama of Sri Lanka.

Of the graffiti sherds collected from the sites of the Indian sub-continent, more than 75 per cent of symbols are traced from Tamil Nadu alone. The symbols and graffiti are very much suggestive of the symbolic and codified expressions and communication of the megalithic and Iron Age people.

“As far as Tamil Nadu is concerned, the large number inscribed potsherds available next to graffiti is of the Tamil-Brahmi inscribed potsherds. The scholars called the Tamil-Brahmi script as Damili or ancient Tamil script. A majority of early historic sites excavated so far met with Tamil-Brahmi inscr-ibed potsherds. At Kee-ladi, 56 Tamil-Brahmi inscribed potsherds were recovered from the excavation conducted by the Tamil Nadu State Archa-eology alone,” the report said.

Tags: indus civilisation, keezhadi excavations, brahmi script