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8,000-year-old Neolithic Age grain grinding structure found in Tamil Nadu

The Ramanathapuram Archaeological Research Foundation team found a grain grinding structure at the Gopalsamy hills in Tamil Nadu's Madurai district

The Neolithic Age is a vital part of human history as it was during this critical period when there was a shift from nomadic life to a settled one. In a significant discovery, the Ramanathapuram Archaeological Research Foundation has found traces of Neolithic period at Gopalsamy hill which is located near Thirumangalam in Tamil Nadu’s Madurai district.

Significantly, the team of researchers led by President of RARF V. Rajaguru which included CSI College of Education student V. Sivaranjani, and D. Manoj and M. Praveena, students and members of Thirupullani Heritage Club, found traces of Neolithic Age grain grinding structure on rock which dates back to 8,000 years.

The team explored the area based on the information provided by N.S.  Sivakumar about these archaeological traces in the area.

Artefacts Gopalsamy Hill
Artefacts found in Gopalsamy Hill by RARF team

Sharing details about the Neolithic Age, Rajaguru explained that the “Neolithic period in Tamil Nadu was from 6000 BC to 2200 BC. Agriculture, animal husbandry, pottery, permanent settlements, crushing and grinding of grains, worship of gods and polished stone tools emerged during this period.”

During the exploration of the area, the team on the northern side of Gopalsamy Hill found stone hopscotch, grinding stones, red coloured potsherds, neolithic stone tools and iron slags. All this points to the Neolithic Age.

Apart from this they also found that rocks in this region have more than 20 small and large craters and grindstone-like structures that have been rubbed smooth. “These may have been places where millstones were used to grind grains and crush nuts,” informed Rajaguru. He added that it was an important civilisational development in human history as people crushed and ground grains and started eating cooked food. “This changed their lifestyle and led to physical problems including dental. In the excavations conducted at places including Paiyampalli, grinder, pestle, etc., which were in use during the Neolithic period, have been found.”

Pallanguli Gopalsamy
Structure of Pallanguli which is a traditional ancient mancala game played in South India

The exploration also yielded finding of a structure of Pallanguli – a traditional ancient mancala game played in South India, especially in Tamil Nadu and Kerala — with 18 pits arranged in 3 rows of 6 per row in the rock. A petroglyph like a square shaped image was also located nearby.

Dolmenoid Gopalsamy Hill
Iron Age dolmenoid cist found in Gopalsamy hill

Further, during the exploration, the existence of the Iron Age as a continuation of the Neolithic age in Tamil Nadu was also found. A few stone slabs 1 to 3 feet high were found separately in the northern part of the rock to confirm this. “These are the remnants of a damaged dolmenoid cist of the Iron Age,” informed Rajaguru. Dolmenoid cists are box-shaped stone burial chambers.

As per Rajaguru, the Archaeological Survey of India needs to excavate these places to bring to light the Neolithic culture that prevailed in Tamil Nadu.