Tuesday, June 20, 2017


Jun 21 2017 : The Times of India (Chennai)

Not many know that Amoor, a vil lage near Siruthavur in Kancheepuram district, is home to Megalithic-period dolmens (burial chambers) with cairn circles (mound of rough stones). If excavated, they may unearth evidence of prehistoric human habitation in the region. Although Amoor is recognised as one of the important stretches in the state that boasts of an abundance of huge dolmens, the monuments here are in ruins, and are highly vulnerable to vandalism.While a lack of care and vandalism pose a threat to at least 100 dolmens here, the ancient tombs have not yet been documented by the Archaeological Survey of India or the state archaeology department. Rock art expert K T Gandhirajan, who inspected the spot that falls on a stretch between Tiruporur and Thirukazukundram, says the size and type of the dolmens show they belong to the early Megalithic period.
“No proper documentation has been conducted in the case of dolmens so far.We have lost many dolmens in places like Mallachandram (near Krishnagiri) to rampant vandalism. In Amoor, quarry units and vandalism pose threat to the monuments,“ he says.
Gandhirajan says the dolmens found in Amoor may have been units of a common burial ground. “The size and style of many dolmens show that the site was a common burial ground. Presence of a burial ground indicates that there was a human habitation nearby ,“ he says.
But Gandhirajan says only a detailed study can confirm his findings. “We can't reach a conclusion without a proper excavation of the site. I am sure it may lead to a pre-historic human habitation in the region,“ says Gandhirajan, who also collected some pot shreds from the site.
Scholars like K Rajan, however, say it may be difficult to excavate every site that has dolmens as Tamil Nadu has no dearth of such sites. “Each site can't be excavated. But it's good if the dolmens in Amoor are protected for the future generation,“ says Rajan.
Referring to vandalism of dolmens, Rajan says that people in many places don't know about their importance.“They think dolmens are mere rock structures. So they break them. We need to create awareness among people about the importance of dolmens,“ he says.
The dolmens on Sasthirambakkam hill near Villiambakkam on the Chengalpet-Kancheepuram road also face threat from the real estate lobby in the area. Some encroachments near the structures were removed following a TOI report in 2013.
“The government can protect these sites by erecting fences around them.Documentation of dolmens is also important. The government should not delay it,“ says Gandhirajan.
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