Ancient glass-making furnace discovered
TNN Jun 22, 2009, 02.24am IST
MADURAI: A glass-making unit functioned in Pasimedu near Palani in Dindigul district 2,000 years ago, according to the discovery by research scholars and historians, who have been excavating this site for the last two months.
Speaking to TOI, K Rajan, head, department of History, Pondicherry University, said they had started excavation in the Porunthal village on the left bank of the Porunthal river, near Palani, under a project funded by the Central Institute of Classical Tamil and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). They had made three trenches and collected over 2,000 glass beads. The beads are of various colours. A mound in this region called pasimedu' (mound of beads) was found to be covering an Iron Age' grave dating back to 500 B.C., that is 2,500 years ago.
Their most priced discovery was that of a glass-making furnace, the first such discovery in Tamil Nadu, which dates back to the first century A.D. The grave contained skeletal remains from a secondary burial over a bed of about 3,000 beads belonging to varieties like steatite micro beads and etched carnelian beads and quartz beads, pendants and agate beads. Jars, conical vases and plates were also discovered in the grave that contained graffiti.
They also discovered many antiques including terrocotta male figurines dating back to first century A.D. and a terrocotta humped bull belonging to the same period. The glass-making furnace contained 50 identical symmetrical bowls used for polishing the beads by placing them on sand and a triangular terrocotta piece used for polishing the beads by rubbing them was also found.
The site lies very close to the ancient trade route between the Pandiya capital of Madurai and Chera capital of Vanji. Earlier, gold coins belonging to the Roman empire of the first century A.D. had been discovered in places along the route like Chinnakalayamuthur, Pollachi and Bhoothinatham.
This passage is mentioned as Peruvazhi' (big route) in Sangam literature. Commercial trade had taken place through this route to Rome and Greece according to history.