Tamil Brahmi inscriptions from Perur

Asko Parpola Asko.Parpola at HELSINKI.FI
Thu Jan 9 15:32:00 UTC 2003

Last year I brought to the notice of the INDOLOGY list the home pages of
the Tamil Heritage Foundation, which carry digital photographs of many
previously unknown terracotta tablets, pottery etc with Tamil Brahmi
inscriptions. I noted that these finds are remarkable, if proved to be
genuine, pointing out to the Tamil Heritage Foundation that their first
priority should be to establish beyound doubt that these objects are not
fakes. I also wondered that they had not consulted Iravatham Mahadevan,
to whom I immediately forwarded the material. I got Mahadevan's reply
only today, after a reminder. It follows below.
        With best regards, Asko Parpola

        Inscribed Pottery from Perur
        Thu, 9 Jan 2003 20:06:11 +0530
        "iravatham" <iravatham at eth.net>
        "Asko" <Asko.Parpola at Helsinki.Fi>

Date 09-01-03

Dear Asko

Sub: Inscribed Pottery from Perur.

I refer to your query on the inscribed pottery from Perur near
Coimbatore. I have examined some of the originals and most of the
very carefully. I am of the opinion that they are not genuine. There are
several reasons for my suspicion:

1. Passages from the cave inscriptions at Mangulam and Sittannavasal
(published in my Corpus in 1966) recur in these pottery insriptions out
of context.

2. Some of the characters look like the Brahmi script around 1st century
A.D., but others in the same inscriptions are from a much later period.
Some of the characters occur nowhere else and seem to be clumsy

3. The site is kept a closely guarded secret by some persons. It is
curious that even though these Terracotta pieces are floating round for
last few years, neither the Central nor the State departments of
Archaeology nor the Universities have shown any interest in digging even
a trial
trench upto date.

4. Last year, one of my students, Mr. Sankaran Raman, a numismatist from
Chennai , went to Coimbatore and Perur to investigate. He caught
red-handed a person (said to be a gold-smith) faking a copper tablet
with a Tamil-Brahmi Inscription. When confronted, he said he was doing
for practice! I brought the incident to the notice of Mr. I. Ramaswamy
who is the main source for most of the Terracotta pieces and other
antiquities from Perur. He said that he knew nothing about the matter.

I have voiced my suspicions to archaeologists and epigraphists who have
consulted me in the matter. I have not included the material from Perur
in my book for the above reasons. My views in the matter are well-known
and you can quote me.

With best wishes


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