Pathanamthitta: Throwing light on a rich and colourful past, terracotta artefacts of great archaeological value have been discovered on the banks of Pamba River near Aranmula here.
The centuries-old terracotta pieces, parts of male figurines and Naga images, were unearthed in a place near to the Anjilimoottil Kadavu Bridge across the Pamba River.
The State government is gearing up to excavate the area and make a detailed study.
The tips of terracotta pieces were found beneath mango tree roots, which were exposed in the recent deluge, on the river banks. The artefacts were cleaned and were under the protection of a police team under SI Jibu John. Later, they were shifted to the state-run Vasthuvidya Gurukulum near here.
The artefacts were probably made between the 10th and 15th century, as per the preliminary assessment.
Aranmula MLA Veena George said that the government was planning to carry out an in-depth study with the co-ordination of various departments concerned as there might be more terracotta shards buried in the area. An archaeology team, including officials from the Department of Cultural Affairs, led by Archaeology director Rejikumar will inspect the site on Monday. Plans are afoot to build a museum and preserve the historical pieces in Aranmula itself.
Focus shifts from Pattanam
The archaeological excavations at Pattanam, a village in Ernakulam district, were the first multi-disciplinary study undertaken in 2007 to find the significance of the erstwhile port in Kodungallur in Thrissur district and get a ringside view of the pre-historic urban settlements in the region. With the first-of-its-kind discovery on the Pampa basin, which the historians term important, it seems that the focus would shift to the Pampa banks for more insight into the history of Kerala.
Noted historian M G S Narayanan has put the artefacts to be close to 2,000 years old but some archaeologists said that the historical pieces are not that old. But all vouch for the fact that a detailed study is imperative.
Professor P J Kurien, who headed the Pattanam study team, said that the figurines were made in the 15th century.
No religious identity could be fixed for the artefacts. An X-ray examination would reveal the place from which red clay was sourced to make these terracotta figurines and other images. Experts in sculpting and statue-making would be able to collate details relating to the style of making these artefacts.
Prof Kurien added that these terracotta figurines might have been left in the river while the Buddha-Jain settlement areas were relinquished. The expertise and skill of artisans of the middle ages are evident in these pieces found on the Pampa banks.
According to historian and Professor Dr Rajan Gurukkal, the figurines could be idols used for worship and 300 to 400 years old, and could have been used for votive offerings to eradicate diseases and for the well-being of people. This practice was in vogue in entire south India and more specific study is needed to find how these idols found their way to the Pampa banks, said Dr Gurukkal.
The sightings of antiques in Aranmula have definitely opened a new chapter in the archaeological study of Kerala.