The administration wing of Kerala State Archaeology Department is currently functioning at Sundaravilasom Palace near the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple, Thiruvananthapuram.
Exploration & Excavation
One of the major diggings by the department was in the Iron Age burial sites at Engandiyoor, south of Chettuva, which led to the findings of red earthen vessels, red-and-black vessels. Some of these are displayed at the Shakthan Thampuran Museum.
After Anujan Achan’s excavations, it was in 1969-1970 that major diggings were done in Kodungalloor. Remains of laterite walls and coins from the days of Rajaraj Chola and Rajendra Chola were found at Mathilakam. These had taken the dates further back to seventh and eighth centuries.
It was during the excavations in 1978 that Pandavan Para, a cave shelter, was discovered at Perinkadavila Village in Neyyattinkara. The engravings of flowers, bow and arrow, etc., on these cave walls, were believed to have been done in the Neolithic Age.
The extensive surveys done in the 80s threw lights on many documents and pieces of evidence which helped in studying the history of Kerala.
The biggest collection of gold coins found in Kerala was from Valluvalli in Ernakulam district, which has helped in research being done now in the ancient port town of Muziris.
The department took the lead in the explorations and excavations in Muziris. In 2003-4, the department did many diggings at Pattanam in North Paravoor, which resulted in finding over 150 items. The excavations in the Edakkal Caves in 2008 brought to light many ancient engravings. Diggings are being done at Kottappuram in Kodungalloor.
Along the excavations at Kottappuram, similar diggings were done in Cheraman Parambu, Pallippuram and Kottayil Kovilakom. In the surveys conducted at Marayoo and Kanthalloor in Idukki in 2010, prehistoric cave drawings remain of early history, Neolithic remains, places of worships, etc., were found.
In 1979, Epigraphy Wing was founded by Sri Vishakam Thirunal to carry out studies of ancient inscriptions and try ancient linguistic practices.
It was in 1980 that the Numismatics Wing became functional. Large collections of ancient coins were discovered from Iyyal, Valluvalli, Kottayam, Poonjar, Angamali, Payyoli, Nedungandam and Vakkom. Roman and Venetian gold coins and old coins of Travancore, Kochi and Malabar and India-Portuguese coins were also found.
Folklore & Folk Arts Wing
The wing focuses on preserving folk arts, encourages research into oral literature and arts, documentation of folk arts, a collection of tribal archaeology, etc.
The department started the Publication Wing in 1978. In 2010, the department began to publish Kerala Archaeological Series, modelled on the nine-volume Travancore Archaeological Series (from 1910-38). Temple Architecture in Kerala, Early Coins from Kerala, Catalogue of Roman Gold Coins are some of the publications of the department, apart from many short guides and monographs. Iron Age in Kerala, a report on the excavations in Mangadu in 1991, is a sought-after reference book on Neolithic Age.
Awareness is key to create a generation of youngsters who behave respectfully and act responsibly to preserve the heritage and archaeological wealth of the land. The department conducts awareness programmes in schools and colleges, and archaeology exhibitions in order to drive home the importance of preserving, protecting and studying our past.