Excavation Branches and Circles of the ASI carry out archaeological excavations in different parts of the country. Since independence various agencies like the Archaeological Survey of India, State Departments of Archaeology, Universities and other research organisations have conducted archaeological excavations in different parts of the country. Based on the information available in the Indian Archaeology - A Review a list of the sites, excavated during last century, is given.

Excavation at Cheramanganad, district Thrissur, Kerala (1990-91 & 2002-03)

The centrally protected Megalithic burial site at Cheramangad have different types like the topical ( umbrella stone ) hood-stone, multiple hood-stones, stone circle, and burials marked by a capstone only on the surface. One each of five types of burials was opened with a view to understanding the interrelationship between them.

Megalith-I, marked by a hood-stone revealed on excavation an internment of an urn within a pit measuring 1.05m in depth. The burial furniture inside the urn included highly disintegrated bones, a vase in red ware, russet-coated white painted ware bowl of concave profile with featureless rim. However, from outside the urn, a red ware vase, three bowls in black-and-red ware and an unidentified iron object, placed at different levels, were obtained. It was found that the urn, pyriform in shape in red ware, decorated with thumb impressed appliqué design on the shoulder was filled with sand. The urn was closed by a granite slab. The pit was filled with same soil retrieved while digging. It is sealed with nearly dressed semi-hemispherical laterite hood stone.

Megalith- II was of multiple hood-stone type made of eight clinostats. Excavation up to 1·95 m below the ground level did not yield any kind of interment. It was observed that the clinostats were buried in a pit dug specially for them.

Megalith- III was of topikal or Umbrella-stone type. The surface feature of this burial is characterised by four clinostats jointing p in to a square at the base on the outside and bevelled in such a way to close up along with diagonals of the square to carry a semi-hemispherical capstone. This burial too had no interment.

Megalith-IV, marked by a granite capstone (1·75 x 1·50 m), revealed similar internal features like that of megalith I with an urn interred in a pit cut into the lateritic natural soil; the urn contained, in all, eleven pots, majority of them being of red ware with fragments of bones deposited at the bottom No iron implement was recovered from this burial.

Megalith V was marked by a circle of laterite stones on the surface. Excavation revealed that within the circle; there were three pit-burials. Pit-A:The urn contained four arrowheads, two lamps with hooks, two tripod-stands, a hook, knife, sickle, rod, all made of iron , and a copper bowl, all deposited over a sand bed at the ,bottom of the urn. Pit- B: The urn yielded four rods, three ring-stands, two arrowheads, two lamps with hook and a sickle, all made of iron, and a copper bowl. Pit- C: It was also similar to Pit A and Pit B in all features. The urn was bigger, and yielded two tripod-stands, a knife, a lamp with handle, a carved rod, all made of iron and a copper bowl as usual deposited over a bed of sand

The excavation revealed several interesting features. The characteristic Topical and the multiple hood-stone type probably symbolic burials did not yield any interment. Secondly, Megalith V seems to be an important burial within the site because of its collective nature, large number of artefacts including the copper bowls, and the individual architectural features.

Excavation at Bekal, Fort, Pallikare, district Kasargod, Kerala (1997-2001)

Bekal fort, one of the largest forts in Kerala, is situated in Pallikkare Village, Hosdurg Taluk, District Kasargod. During the medieval period, it played an important role in the political scenario of Northern Kerala. Originally, the fort was constructed by Ikkeri Nayakas and later was occupied by Haider Ali, Tippu Sultan and still later by the British.

Bekal fort, roughly polygonal in shape, is the biggest and one of the well-preserved forts in Kerala, spreading over forty acres. It has massive walls of about twelve meters in height, built of locally available laterite stones. The headland on which it is situated runs in to the Arabian Sea, with a circular bay jutting out in to the sea on the west. The site was so well selected that one gets a complete view of the entire area. It is a large fort with a strong wall and massive ramparts. It has two lines of fortification wall, inner and outer. The fortification is interspersed with machicolations. The fortification walls are impregnate with fifteen bastions of semi circular, octagonal, oval, square and rectangular shape with an entrance on the north side.

The fort consists of several structural remains of historical importance. All these structures were in partially exposed condition. To know the cultural sequence, extent of occupation and the archaeological importance of the structural remains, an excavation was conducted in four seasons from 1997-98 to 2000-01. The excavation unearthed several structural remains including residential and palace complexes, a mint, Durbar Hall and a temple complex. More than 2000 antiquities have been recovered through this excavation. It includes the coins of Nayakas and Tippu sultan, metal objects in gold, silver, lead and copper, terracotta seals of Vijayanagar period etc. most of the metal objects belong to Tippu Sultan period.

The antiquities found from Bekal include, gold ornaments, silver objects, iron objects, copper and lead objects.

The numismatic findings from Bekal are very significant. The important findings include 1). Remains of furnace 2) kiln for minting coins 3) copper coin mould 4) Copper ingots 5) Lead slag 6) lead mould 7) copper small coins 8) Damaged and defaced coins 9) Paise coins of Tippu Sultan) Puducheri Silver panam) British East India Coins) Terracotta Seals with Nagari legend.

Around 700 copper ingots were collected from the site. More than 554copper coins were found from a single house. Majority of them are in corroded condition, there for the symbols are not visible. Few of them were selected from the collection bear the symbols of elephant to right, elephant turned to left with uplifted tail, double crossed lines with dots, Kanarese numerals, birds, flowers wheel design, goad, deity, square petalled flower etc. The weight standard is ranging between 1gm to 3gm and the diameter is in between 5mm to 13 mm.

The identification of mint house as that of Tippu sultan is the most important contribution of this excavation.

Excavation of Rock Caves at Ummichipoyil, district Kasargod, Kerala (2002)

The rock cut caves at Ummichipoyil located on laterite hill top of Karinthalam village of Hosdurg Taluk, Kasargod district in Kerala. The cave openings are either rectangular or square in nature. They are recessed in which the inner one is small and the outer one is larger.

There eleven numbers of caves were identified. They are categorizing into two groups. The first group consists of 8 cave groups and is having entrances facing towards the western side and the latter group located towards the northern side has total 3 caves, in which two of them are facing towards south and one is facing west.

Among the eleven caves discovered only 4 caves have undergone systematic excavation and others are found in disturbed condition.

All caves are cut out of bed rock has a slightly slanting portion leading to the entrance of the cave. These caves are provided with four steps, leading into a rectangular floor, which enters into the entrance door of the cave measuring 0.79 x 0.53 mts. The entrance of the caves has two to four rectangular recesses. Cave no-2 has an open space seen in between the cave entrance and interior of the cave. The circular plan of the caves has a diameter 2.30 mt – 2.60mt and the top openings have a 0.36mt to 0.50mts. Inside the floor of the cave placed the typical pottery belonging to megalithic period such as black and red ware, black ware and red ware. The shapes includes bowls, dishes etc. The circular in plan of the cave no-3 and cave no.-7measuring 2.63mts, is having a rectangular midrib in the floor ranges from 0.13 to 0.45cms cut out into the bed rock running from the entrance to the rear end dividing the cave interior into two portions. Cave no-8 and cave no-9 have central pillar cut out in the laterite with 0.18mt diameter. In some caves shallow depressions have been made in the floor for placing non legged vessels. Here in cave no-7, inside to the entrance there is a depression where a red ware pottery has been seen kept.

Megalithic potteries were retrieved from all the caves. Around 75 potteries were found placed inside the cave no-2. The types are typical megalithic and the shape include the three legged and four legged jars, small pots and medium sized pots. Pottery stand is a common feature of the megalithic rock cut caves in central Kerala. The lids retrieved from here shows fineness in their preparation, all are wheel turned with regular striation marks. Among them funnel shaped lid with ring finials noticed from this site. Similar types have been yielded from Brahamagiri and Sanur. The antiquities retrieved from the caves include terracotta bead and iron implements.

The burial seems to be secondary in nature, with the absence of skeletal remains. Only tentative dating can be done because of the absence of datable materials like skeleton, ash and charcoal remains. On the basis of style or typology of the caves, the burial can be tentatively dated to 500 BC – 500 AD.

Excavation of Megalithic Burials at Kadanad Village, Meenachil Taluk, Kottayam District, Kerala State (2007-08)

The Iron Age megalithic burials at Kadanad (Lat: 9 o 45' N & 9 o 50' N; Long: 76 o 40' E & 76 o 45' E) are located in the Kadanad village about 45km north east of the district headquarter Kottayam in Central Kerala. The megaliths are noticed in three different localities viz. Mattathilpara, Inchukavu and Kurumannu. The megalithic burial sites in Kadanad village are unique in its location and distribution pattern. These burials are located on slopes.

The Archaeological excavations conducted during 2007-2008 have brought to light remains of cist burials constructed with granite slabs. The cist burials have passage chambers with porthole on their western orthostats. A rich collection of the burial goods are discovered from the Kurumannu, which are not found at Mathathilpara and Inchukavu. The cist burials of Kurumannu are of four numbers built in clock-wise and anti-clock wise pattern. They were very rich in material assemblages. The burial goods mainly consisted of urns, miniature pots, terracotta beads, stone beads, iron objects and gold objects. The ceramics are mainly of Black and Red ware in medium fabrics.

Antiquities found include iron weapons, agriculture implements, gold objects, stone beads etc. The cists were devoid of any skeletal remains indicating their secondary character. On the basis of typology of burials and burial assemblages these sites can be tentatively dated to 300-200 B.C.