Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala

Megalithic monuments

As in the northern parts of the country, the megalithic monuments discovered in the state are considered to be remnants of the Iron Age. Different types of clay utensils, pots, clay plates, cheppus (cheppu means a small container), iron weapons like sword, knife, soolam (trident), nail, choonda (fishing hook) and kozhunaaku are the major megalithic remnants found in Kerala.

Some tools made of brass and bronze, stone beads in red, black and white colours are also among the remnants retrieved. They provide valuable insights for the commoners into the Iron Age.

The megalithic remnants in the state were discovered in burial sites. The megalithic burial sites found in the State fall in the following categories: hood stones (kudakkallu), hat stones (thoppikkallu), muthumakkathazhi (nannangadi), muniyara, pandavakuzhi, kalmesha, kalvrithangal and nadukallu.

Scientific studies and excavations to study the megalithic monuments were conducted at Mangad in Kollam district, Kuppakolli in Wayanad district, Punnol in Mahe, Kodungallur, Machadu, Pazhayannur and Porkulam (all in Thrissur district).

Dolmenoid cists are where dead bodies were buried. They will be moodukallu (stone slab) with a hole. The ‘Kalmesha’ or ‘Meshakallu’ (capstone flush) is another type in which a flat stone with a hole is placed over the large clay pot in which the corpse is kept.

The ‘kalvritham’ (stone circle) is a kind of burial system in which the corpse is left to be fed by birds, animals and for decaying in the earth.

The ancient text Manimekhala describes five kinds of burials: those who burn, those who leave the body for the birds to feed, those who bury and those who bury the corpse in clay pots.

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