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Vandalism of Tamil-Brahmi sites

Recently on the ancient trade path from Madurai to Kerala, archaeologists discovered pottery with Tamil-Brahmi inscription.

Epigraphists have deciphered the three Tamil-Brahmi letters on the ring-stand as “vayra,” which means diamond. The deep-set cist-burial, which has two compartments made of granite slabs, was found to have skeletal remains. A pair of stirrups lay next to the ring-stand. The symbol that followed the three Tamil-Brahmi letters showed an etched gem and bead, with a thread coming out of the bead. According to Mr. Mahadevan, the script could be dated to the first century A.D. [The Hindu : Front Page : Tamil-Brahmi script found in village]

Finding this inscription has been rather lucky because quarrying and vandalism has been destroying Tamil-Brahmi sites.

Tiruvadavur is now the most disturbed Tamil-Brahmi site in the State, with a huge quarry situated right at the foot of the hill. Quarrying has progressed so deep that the site looks like an open-cast mine. All round the quarry, for several kilometres, granite blocks as big as a truck or a car, are stacked on either side of the village roads. There is a surreal scene too: a nearby hill has been sliced in half, as if it were a cake. An official of the State Archaeology Department admitted that quarrying was under way within the prohibited/regulated area, that is, within 300 m of the protected limits of the monument.[History vandalised]

So why is Tamil-Brahmi so important?

Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions are important not only in the history of Tamil Nadu and the rest of South India but for the whole country. They have many unique distinctions. They are the oldest writings in any Dravidian language. They are also the oldest Jaina inscriptions in India. I believe that the Mankulam Tamil-Brahmi inscription of [Pandyan king] Nedunchezhiyan is older than the Karavela inscription at Udayagiri in Orissa.

Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions are the only record of the old Tamil, the one prior to Sangam poetry. Many Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions are important landmarks in our history. For example, the inscriptions of Nedunchezhiyan at Mankulam, the Irumporai inscriptions at Pugalur near Karur and the Jambai inscription of Adhiyaman Neduman Anji link the Sangam age with the Tamil-Brahmi age. It is the Jambai inscription that prove that the “Satyaputo” mentioned by Asoka was none other than the Adhiyaman dynasty, which ruled from Tagadur, modern Dharmapuri.[‘Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions are the only record of old Tamil’]

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