Once the excavation is complete, the trenches will be closed and the land returned to the farm owners .

More than 1,200 antiquities and artefacts have been unearthed in Keezhadi in the excavations being undertaken by the Tamil Nadu Department of Archaeology.

So far, five trenches (11 quadrants) have been excavated at the site. “The unearthed antiquities consist of potsherds, terracotta figurines, a ring well, terracotta beads, carnelian beads, shell bangles and iron pieces, among others,” an official in the department told The Hindu.

This phase of excavations by the State Archaeological Department began in mid-April, officials said. “The current area being excavated covers a coconut grove and is spread around 15-20 acres,” an official said.

Once the excavation was completed, the trenches would be closed and the land would be returned to the farm owners in its previous condition, officials said.

The project had been dogged by controversies including delays in provision of funds by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), replacement of project officials, and refusal to grant an extension for the excavations.

Following these issues, the State government sought approvals from the Central Advisory Board of Archaeology (CABA) to undertake excavations on its own. The CABA gave its approval in October 2017.

The State government sanctioned ₹55 lakh in 2017-18 to undertake the excavations at Keezhadi. In the three phases of excavations undertaken by the ASI in 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17, a total of 7,818 artefacts were unearthed.

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