Context: The Kodumanal excavation of 10 pots and bowls, instead of the usual three or four pots, placed outside three-chambered burial cists and inside the cairn-circle, throw light on burial rituals and the concept of after life in megalithic culture.

More on the news:

  • A team from the State Department of Archaeology, Chennai has recently identified 250 cairn-circles at the village in Erode district. 
  • Earlier excavations revealed that the site served as a trade-cum-industrial center from 5th century BCE to 1st century BCE.
  • The rectangular chambered cists, each two metres long and six metres wide, are made of stone slabs, and the entire grave is surrounded by boulders that form a circle.
  • Previous excavations have revealed that multi-ethnic groups lived at the village, located about 500 metres away from the Noyyal river.

Belief in afterlife

  • The grave could be possibly of a village head or the head of the community as the size of two boulders, each facing east and west, are bigger than the rest of the boulders.
  • Believing that the deceased person will get a new life after death, pots and bowls filled with grains were placed outside the chambers.

Megalithic culture

  • Megaliths refer to large stone structures that were constructed either as burial sites or as commemorative sites.
  • The burial sites are the sites with actual burial remains, such as dolmenoid cists (box-shaped stone burial chambers), cairn circles (stone circles with defined peripheries), and capstones (distinctive mushroom-shaped burial chambers found mainly in Kerala).
  • Commemorative megaliths include memorial sites.
  • In India, archaeologists trace the majority of the megaliths to the Iron Age (1500 BC to 500 BC), though some sites precede the Iron Age, extending up to 2000 BC.
  • Megaliths are spread across the Indian subcontinent.
  • The majority of megalithic sites are found in Peninsular India, concentrated in the states of Maharashtra (mainly in Vidarbha), Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana.
  • Even today, a living megalithic culture endures among some tribes such as the Gonds of central India and the Khasis of Meghalaya.
  • Following map shows distribution of megalithic sites in peninsular India


Source:https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/excavation-at-kodumanal-reveals-megalithic-belief-in-afterlife/article31862510.ece#:~:text=250 cairn-circles identified at,of afterlife in megalithic culture.

Image Source: TH