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New temple at Mahabalipuram

The tsunami that hit South India revealed many historical artifacts. This includes some new rock carvings, deep sea structures and a granite lion which was seen briefly in 1980. The rock temple at Mahabalipuram survived the tsunami, but post-tsunami archaeology suggests that there were more temples in the region. A new temple has been excavated north of Mahabalipuram, and is suspected to be built between second century B.C and first century A.D.

The archaeologists are trying to determine the date of the tsunami that may have destroyed the temple from sand and seashells found at the brick structure, dedicated to Lord Muruga, a Hindu god, Satyamurthy told The Associated Press.

He said there was more damage on the side of the temple facing the sea, and that the sand and shells were not normally found so far inland.

The temple was found one layer below a granite temple excavated by the same team in July, leading archaeologists to theorize that the Pallava kings, who ruled the region between 580 A.D and 728 A.D., built the latter temple atop the remains of the older one.

The team also found stucco figurines, terra-cotta lamps, beads and roofing tiles. Similar articles and large bricks were typically used around the beginning of the first millennium, he said.

The ruins of the temple north of Mahabalipuram that Satyamurthy discussed Wednesday were not uncovered by the recent tsunami, and excavation did not begin until after the waves struck.

But the finding of that temple and the structures uncovered by last year’s tsunami has revived a debate over whether references in ancient literature to cities and towns being submerged by violent waves referred to a tsunami.

“We could never study an ancient tsunami without having some man-made materials surviving from that time,” Satyamurthy said. “This temple is our link to that.”

He said archaeologists have discovered similar deposits of sand and shells at excavations in the town of Poompuhar, another ancient port south of where the latest temple was found.[Indian Ruins Show Signs of Ancient Tsunami]

Picture 1 shows how close the site is to the sea and Picture 2 shows workers cleaning the site.

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