Keezhadi- the lost city of a 2500-year-old civilization


A team of archaeologists has stumbled upon a 2500-year-old civilization’s urban settlement in Keezhadi, Tamilnadu. Following this, several artifacts, including gold ones have been excavated. Clearly, this announces the existence of a sophisticated, urbanized Vaigai riverbed civilization.

Where did it all begin?

Tamil Sangam (ancient Tamil literature academies) literature hint at a 12,000-year-old Tamil headquarters. It was a glorious, bustling, cosmopolitan city called Madurai. Madurai was said to have trade relations with Rome, Egypt, and China. In 2013, a four-membered-team, headed by Amarnath Ramakrishna, decided to collect proof substantiating the Sangam literature’s claim. After that, the logical course was to explore the river banks near the current Madurai. 

The exploration:

The team began their explorations along the 250 km long Vaigai river. The search began from the river’s source- Vellimalai in the Western ghats. They explored nearly five hundred villages in five districts along the river course. Two hundred ninety-three sites showed potential for being riverine settlements. The team subjected them to severe scrutiny. In the end, they narrowed it down to ninety locations.

The winner:

At Keezhadi, the team struck a jackpot. They found burnt bricks, which is a sure sign of an urban settlement. Therefore, Keezhadi was not just a burial site. As they dug, they realized that the settlement spanned more than 110 km. They were lucky that the Keezhadi site was not under a current residential area. The team had found its path in the middle of a coconut tree grove. There was no stopping them now. The excavation began in 2014. The voice of a sophisticated, ancient Civilization began talking to them.


  1. Carbon dating has placed this Tamil settlement and Tamil language at 600 BCE. This period is much earlier than previously suspected.
  2. The excavation exposed several organized pipeline networks made of terracotta. These pipelines had perforated coverings. Such coverings were possibly meant for water filtration. These ingeniously constructed water management structures reveal a mature civilization’s knowledge of advanced technologies.
  3. Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions on pottery shards are Tamil names like Kudhiranadhan and Aadhan.  For instance, carving names on objects to claim ownership is a tradition still in practice in Tamilnadu. Hence, this shows that even a layman was literate. Keezhadi was an educated civilization.

The excavation also revealed the following:

  1. There is evidence of local and foreign trade. 
  2. The ring well structures highlight the Civilization’s knowledge of tapping into the groundwater. They also knew that groundwater was available at shallow depths near a riverbed. The need for a local water source also indicates a busy residential and industrial area.
  3. Specific antique tools and structures like tubs and water chutes point towards a flourished textile industry. Furthermore, there was a nearby port city, Azhagankulam. It could have easily been the point of trade.
  4. There are shreds of evidence of agriculture and cattle breeding.

Recent results:

  1. Toilet-like structures indicate the sophistication of this Civilization.
  2. Gold artifacts and jewelry are proof of a wealthy and self-adequate settlement.
  3. Keezhadi excavation has revealed Tamil Brahmi signs similar to inscriptions found in the Indus Valley Civilization. This similarity could mean that Tamil was the language of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, even before Sanskrit.

The controversy surrounding Keezhadi:

Many of the excavation’s team leaders and members were transferred against their will. As a result, there was an uproar in Tamilnadu. The political parties of Tamilnadu accused the Hindutva political parties of trying to derail the expedition. These allegations arose because the Hindu right claim:

  1. Gods descended on the earth, straight to Indus Valley Civilization. They don’t only speak the Sanskrit language but also composed the Vedas, Hinduism’s holy texts.
  2. Hinduism and Sanskrit are the oldest religion and languages, respectively. Similarly, they are both indigenous to India. (Sanskrit was first recorded in Syria, not India).
  3. Hence, it is the foremost duty of every patriotic Indian and devout Hindu to learn Hindi, a language derived from Sanskrit. (Read also: Unfair Hindi imposition on South India)
What if?

Such religious and lingual extremists believe themselves to be superior for being the descendants of one of the oldest civilizations on earth. Their proclamations would lose traction if:

  1. Any archaeological find predated the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) or
  2. There was the usage of Dravidian language in IVC before Sanskrit, thereby discrediting Sanskrit as the God-language or
  3. Evidence points towards an independent, Anti-Vedic Dravidian civilization that existed before or alongside IVC or
  4.  The excavation proved that all Hinduism doesn’t have Vedic roots.

Could it be true?

 There has always been a tug of war between India’s northern and southern states regarding their languages and religious beliefs. As a result, any activity obstructing the truth tends to cast suspicions on the party that might benefit from such an act.

 The only solution:

 The antiquity of one’s ancestry is not proof of supremacy. In fact, the thoughts and actions of an individual determine their true worth. Above all, lessons from the past teach humanity how to adapt rather than perish by repeating history. Luckily, we can now decrypt those lessons via science. At any rate, untempered evidence revealing the supreme truth is our only chance at survival. With this in mind, let us transcend our differences to ensure Humankind’s continuity and progress.

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