Keezhadi Excavation: Archaeologist Who Found Sangam Era Relics Denied Permit to Talk on Findings in US
Amarnath was invited by the Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America to the event in the US and was scheduled to attend it between June 29 and July 1.
The Keezhadi excavation site at the Madurai village. (Image: via Wikimedia Commons)
Chennai: K Amarnath Rama Krishna, Superintending Archaeologist at the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Guwahati Circle, has been denied permission to address the 31st Annual Tamil Convention in the US despite being invited as the Guest of Honour. The eminent archaeologist was supposed to deliver a lecture on Tamil archaeology, his area of expertise.
Last year, the archaeologist was transferred to Assam after he and his team excavated relics at the Keezhadi village in Madurai that had the potential to establish the presence of a civilisation in south India in 200 BC. Controversy erupted when the Centre delayed permission for a third round of excavation despite the first two rounds being “successful”.
Amarnath was invited by the Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America to the event in the US and was scheduled to attend it between June 29 and July 1. Reasons behind turning him down are still unknown.
He had sought ASI’s permission to attend the event in April this year but was turned down on May 25.
In a letter dated May 25, 2018, Tara Chandar, Deputy Director (Admin), ASI stated: “I am directed to say that the competent authority has not acceded to your request to attend 31st Annual Tamil convention in Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex area in USA from 29th June, 2018 to 1st July, 2018.”
Su Venkatesan, General Secretary, Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers and Artists Association, condemned the ASI action. He said: “Amarnath was not only supposed to address the US Sangam, but was also supposed to disclose information about the Keezhadi evacuation and findings on Tamil culture. But the BJP government doesn’t want the knots to be removed and hence they planned and stopped him from going to the US.”
DMK, too, attacked the BJP over ASI’s denial. TKS Elangovan, DMK MP, said: “The central government has no say on this issue. Our culture, language and lifestyle are not like that of the north. We have a separate identity. Findings of the Keezhadi excavation about the ancient Tamil civilisation is a true statement. The central government, BJP and Hindu parties are denying this. The government should not deny history. They don’t want the Tamilians history to come out.”
After conducting two rounds of excavation at Keezhadi village near Madurai district in Tamil Nadu, Amarnath was transferred to Assam before he could conduct the third round. Controversy erupted when the Centre delayed permission for the third round. ASI, however, completed the third round of digging in October last year and the work has now been taken over by the state’s archaeological department. Very little is known about the findings of the third phase.
The findings of Keezhadi excavation rejected the theory that there were no settlements in the region during the Sangam era.
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