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Post Info TOPIC: HOW CULTURE OF KEELADI CAN COME ALIVE AT THE MUSEUM


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HOW CULTURE OF KEELADI CAN COME ALIVE AT THE MUSEUM
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HOW CULTURE OF KEELADI CAN COME ALIVE AT THE MUSEUM

Museum At The Archaeological Site Can Be A Narrative Of Tamil History Linking Present-Day To Rich Sangam Past

A stroll through the Asian Civilisations Museum at Singapore takes viewers through the life of Buddha. Idols of the founder of Buddhism placed amid ancient artefacts sourced from Southeast Asian nations not only give a glimpse of history but also draw the audience in.

“It gives an impression of entering Buddha Vihar at Asian Civilisations Museum at Singapore,” says C Santhalingam, secretary of Pandya Nadu Centre for Historical Research. The former state archaeology officer says the proposed site museum at Keeladi must similarly pique the interest of people.

The Keeladi excavation site in Sivaganga district, has been the hub of activity with the recent findings throwing new light on eras long gone. Last month, TN archaeology department released a report that showed Sangam period could be three centuries older than what was believed earlier, dating between 600BC and AD100. This was based on carbon dating of material from the site. It has made historians and archaeologists sit up as this is likely to be just the tip of the iceberg with only a fraction of the 110 acres site being excavated. To ensure that the buzz does not remain confined to the circles of experts, the government has decided to open a site museum at Keeladi in March 2020.

But since museums in India struggle to fascinate, experts stress that it is important that such a facility does not freeze the past in a glass box, but engages with viewers using modern technologies. From virtual reality to GPS-linked audio guides and gaming, there is a world of possibilities to attract footfalls.

“What we are going to showcase to the world is the civilisation of ancient Tamils. Visitors must be able to travel through the 2,600-year-old civilisation inside the museum,” says Santhalingam. Depiction of the importance of each artifact, and how it was used at the time should be painted like graffiti behind the displayed antique pieces. Since display and a storytelling narrative works best globally, he says, audio guides should be made available for visitors apart from manual guided tours.

A unique display apart, museums across the globe engage in activities to make a date with history fun. For instance, the Royal Tyrrell Museum at Alberta in Canada has campins for families and groups at the museum at night, apart from educational tours where fossil replicas can be created. Chennaibased Approved Tour Guides Association president P Asoka, who recently visited the Royal Tyrrell Museum suggests that the Keeladi museum should have advanced facilities such as machines that can give information in multiple languages about an artefact at a click of a button,” he says.

Former joint director general of Archaeological Survey of India D N Dimri feels a site museum with world-class amenities is a possibility, but requires tremendous effort. Since communication and convenience are a priority today, it is essential that museums aiming to be a global attraction ensure facilities for tourists. The museum should have interpretation centres with brochures of various Indian and foreign languages. At the Emperor Qinshihuang’s mausoleum in Shaanxi in China, famous for its ‘Terracotta Warriors’ has a tourist service centre to provide visitors with a series of services such as travel consultation, luggage storage and complaint handling.

According to Dimri, work on an attractive museum starts outside it. “While libraries and publications should be part of the museum activities, promotions about Keeladi are important for people to know about it,” he says. While concepts can be borrowed, Dimri discourages the state government toying with the idea of establishing a museum on the lines of Mohenjo-Daro. “Keeladi is unique to South India and it should not be mixed with any other civilisations,” he says.

Aiming for a unique museum experience, state commissioner for archaeology T Udhayachandran says the site museum will have something for everyone, including children and youth. “We will replicate the real culture at the museum,” he says.

Email southpole.toi@timesgroup.com



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‘Excavations could reveal Harappa-like habitation at Keeladi’

Till date, Sangam era was confined to literature and poems but Keeladi is the first archaeological site in Tamil Nadu which provides physical evidence of its existence. Inscription of common Sangam-era names like Aathan, Kuviran, Sathan, Senthanavathi on potsherds found at the ancient site provides concrete evidence to correlate literature with the ancient civilization that had flourished on the banks of Vaigai in that period.

Since this helps historians connect the dots and form a better picture, ASI superintending archaeologist Amarnath Ramakrishna said the Sangam era and megalithic eras are related and should be viewed together. “The extensive brick structures confirm that a literate, affluent civilization inhabited a structured township with paved roads,” said Ramakrishna, who had overseen the first two phases of excavation at Keeladi, at a seminar on Keeladi and antiquity of Tamils, organised by the Fourth Tamil Sangam, Senthamizh Arts and Keelthisai College in Madurai on Monday.

All the structures made of bricks of usually 28cmx30cm size are similar to the dimensions of bricks found at excavation sites in present-day Cauvery Poompattinam, an area mentioned in Sangam literature, said Ramakrishna. “A stone tool found during the second phase of excavation was found to be dated to the megalithic period, specified as 1000BC. The megalithic period has references to burial urns and sites. This means a habitation preceded this time. Sangam could go beyond that,” he said.

Since no major archaeological excavation had been done in Tamil Nadu in the past 70 years before Keeladi, it is only now that such revelations about a 2,600-year-old civilization are being made. “There have been times, when experts said Sangam literature which talks of lifestyles of people, was hypothetical and lacked evidence of a civilization, Keeladi is that proof,” he said, stressing on the need to conduct an further extensive excavations. Ramakrishna feels if excavations are done for a minimum of 15 years, it could reveal habitations like Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa.

“Keeladi’s findings should be correlated with findings of excavations that were done not only in Tamil Nadu but across the country, to strengthen the theory of similarities between Keeladi and the Indus Valley Civilization,” said Ramakrishna.

Keeladi has also yielded evidence for the evolution of ancient script. “While graffiti had been found in the bottom layers, the middle layers had yielded a mixture of graffiti and Tamil brahmi (tamili),” said Ramakrishna who does not buy the theory that Keeladi was an industrial or working site. “There are chances it was a thriving civilization where people were literate and affluent,” he said.



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பூம்புகாரின் நிலைமையைப் பாருங்கள்!
இதுதான் தமிழகத் தொல்லியல் துறையின் லட்சணம்.
இதைப் பற்றி எந்த அரசியல்வாதியும் கீழடியின் மானம் காக்கும் வீரர்களும் பேச மாட்டார்கள். முதலில் இருக்கும் அருங்காட்சியகத்தையும் அதில் உள்ள பொருட்களையும் பத்திரமாக வைததுக் கொள்ளக் கற்றுக் கொள்ள வேண்டும். பின்னால் கீழடி அருங்காட்சியகத்தைப் பற்றிப் பேசலாம்.

 



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