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Poompuhar with new identity : Birth place of civilisation

Poompuhar with new identity : Birth place of civilisation

Publication: New Indian Express
Date: December 17, 2002

A submerged coastal city near Poompuhar in Nagapattinam district could well be the birth place of modern civilisation, archaeologists say.

Based on extensive research done by him in the area, Graham Hancock, a Edinburgh-born marine archaeologist, claims that the Poompuhar site could even predate the Sumeria in Mesopotamia, which is where civilisation is believed to have originated 5000 years ago. The Poompuhar site was swallowed by the sea 11,000 years ago, he revealed during a speech at an exhibition organised by the Mythic Society, Bangalore last week.

According to some fascinating details made available to this correspondent, Graham came across evidence during an underwater exploration in the area in 2001 to show that the place could have been swallowed up by a 400 feet tidal wave at the end of the last Ice Age between 17,000 and 7,000 years ago.Another Indian city that was similarly submerged was the Gulf of Cambay, in the north-west. Citing ancient Tamil flood myths which speak of a great kingdom called Kumari Kandam that once existed in this area but was eventually swallowed up by the sea, Graham says this means the Poompuhar site could date back 11,600 years ago.

Prior to Hancock's findings,the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa, had conducted offshore archaeological investigations in the same area in the late 1980s using an instrument called Sidescan Scanner. One man-made structure in particular was singled out for investigation in 1991 and 1993. The divers also found a horse-shoe-shaped object at a depth of 23 metres.

Onshore exploration near Chinnavanagiri, south of Poompuhar revealed a ring well along with megalithic black and red wares. A few ring wells were also found near Vanagiri, Tranquebar and Poompuhar. A Sangam period brick structure was unearthed near the present Kannagi statue at Poompuhar. Another L-shaped brick structure was also noticed at low tide, suggesting that a large part of ancient city of Poompuhar must have been submerged in the sea.

Even after such brilliant findings near Poompuhar, the NIO, surprisingly, did not evince interest on further research after 1993. In 2001, when Hancock visited South India, he caught up with the NIO and in 2001, he arranged for an exploration funded by Channel 4 in Britain and the Learning Channel in the US. The remains of the submerged city were videographed.

Further research convinced Hancock that the ruins were of great antiquity. probably dating more than 7,000 years ago. Glenn Milne, a geologist at the University of Durham, UK, confirmed Hancock's views, which later threw up evidence that the submerged city near Poompuhar was far superior than any found in the Harappan sites.

Hancock's findings seem to signal the start of an exciting era in Indian archeology. Further exploration might solve more mysteries about the origin of modern civilisation.

Ironically though, the Poompuhar findings have evoked no interest among Indian archaeologists though Poompuhar town holds a pride of place in the history of ancient Tamil Nadu as the port capital of the Cholas and the location for the epic Silapathigaram. Though the DMK government in 1973 build many monuments in the place, the tourism potential is yet to be fully tapped.

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