A Tale Of Two Cities – Adichanallur And Keezhadi

Throughout the history of mankind, there have been discovery of hidden cities and monuments, which has re-defined popular beliefs and myth. Such discoveries and conclusions around it help us understand the transitions between various phases of human evolution. Two such discoveries were the hidden towns of Adichanallur and Keezhadi at Tamil Nadu. These two are the major archaeological excavations ever made in Tamil Nadu. They are significant mainly for the volume of artefacts and monuments unearthed.


Adichanallur is located in Thoothukudi district and it has a vast land of urn burial site. It was first selected for archaeological research by Dr. Jagor in 1876. They discovered a lot of burial urns with skeletons. The village is still preserved by archaeological department but the excavation projects were closed and further research was not carried on. This disappointed the historians and general public who are eager to know more about this burial site.

Findings and beliefs

Adichanallur is believed to be a camp-like place where soldiers lived. Such a massive land mainly used as a burial site is amazing. Though the purpose of this place is not clearly well established, it can be assumed that the site hosted battles which resulted in mass killings. The skulls inside the burial urns had a hole in forehead part. They are dated to 1800 BCE to 200 BCE. Either people naturally lived with eyeball sockets in forehead, or got them pierced for medical or any other reason.

Interesting artefacts

Artefacts from Adichanallur contains more burial urns. Inside such urns, the dead bodies were kept in sitting positions. This is evident from the position of skeletons collected. People of Adichanallur used a three tier burial system with oldest dead body at the lowest end. They used to bury certain things along with the body. This is evident from the finding of rice and millet pots along with the skeletons. A potter’s workplace and a smith shop was discovered. Several earthenware utensils and iron weapons were discovered. Few objects even had images of animals.


Keezhadi is located in Sivagangai district, on the banks of river Vaigai. As civilizations grow up along river coasts, Keezhadi has to be the cradle of Tamil civilization. Many villages along the Vaigai coast were chosen for excavation and Keezhadi produced stunning results. A well planned civilized city was discovered from Keezhadi. Unfortunately, the research was disrupted as the team head was transferred by the government. People are eager to know more about Keezhadi as it produced solid evidences supporting tamil sangam literature.

Findings and beliefs

Coconut farms of Pallisandhai at Keezhadi was the exact location of research. Buildings with neatly aligned walls were found. They were approximately dated to 1st century B.C. Houses were built with bricks and they had a well planned sewage system. At present in 2019, it takes a Swachch Bharat plan to create awareness for people. But amazingly, 2000 years ago people lived with drainage systems which included cylindrical pipes made of clay.

As Tamil is one of the oldest languages of earth, Tamil literary works are more than 2000 years old. There are fine poetic and grammar works which portray the lifestyle of pre-historic Tamil population. But apart from the literary sources, clear solid structures were not discovered. It was the discovery of Keezhadi which proved the existence of a civilized Tamil society more than 2000 years ago.

The sangam literature gives a map of Madurai which is the throne of Tamil literature. Great pieces of written works were published here. But the location of current Madurai doesn’t match with the map. Moreover Madurai has inscriptions dating from 10th century A.D. whereas Keezhadi has artefacts from 1st century B.C. to 10th century A.D. According to the narration of Thirupatriyur puliyur nambi’s “Thiruvilayadal puranam”, a Pandyan king shifted his capital from Manalur to Madurai in 10th century A.D. So it can be roughly understood that, Keezhadi was the historical Madurai until 10th century A.D. and later they moved to present Madurai.

Interesting artefacts

Red and black coloured clay pots were discovered which had the owner’s name inscribed in it. The text was old Tamil Brahmi script which conveys a message that people were literate. They had the habit of writing their names on their belongings. Beautiful names such as “Muyan” (one who tries hard) were found from the pottery pieces. Cornelian beads and Roman roulette are other artefacts which confirm the trade link with foreign countries. Dice, comb and chess boards made of elephant tusks were found. A piece of brick with an extinct animal footprint was also discovered.

The government must re-start the excavation in both these villages to let the world know about India. Our country had advanced technologies and a civilized society 2000 years ago, when humans in some other regions were hunters and gatherers.

Featured Image of Keezhadi_excavation – Wikimedia Commons by Ophelia S under CC BY-SA 4.0

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