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Poompuhar Site Could Be Cradle Of Modern Civilisation: Study

Poompuhar Site Could Be Cradle Of Modern Civilisation: Study

Author: R. Venkataramani
Publication: The 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 research done by him in the area, Graham Hancock, an Edinburgh born marine archaeologist, claims that Poompuhar site could pre-date Sumeria in Mesopotamia, which is where civilisation is believed to have originated 5,000 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 it could have been swallowed up by a 400-foot tidal wave at the end of the last Ice Age somewhere between 17,000 and 7,000 years ago. Another Indian city 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.

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 the Sidescan Scanner. One man-made structure 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 ware. 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 Poompuhar must have been submerged in the sea.

Even after such findings near Poompuhar, the NIO, surprisingly, did not evince interest after 1993. In 2001, when Hancock visited South India, he caught up with the NIO and in 2001, 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 7000 years ago. Glenne 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 to any found in the Harappan sites.

Hancock's findings seem to signal the start of an exciting era in Indian archaeology. 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 Tamil Nadu as the port capital of Cholas and the location for the epic Silapathigaram.

Though the DMK government in 1973 built many monuments in the place, the tourism potential is yet to be fully tapped.

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