Pandya: Pandya-era oil mill found in Madurai temple | Chennai News

CHENNAI: About 1,100 years ago, an oil mill built by the villagers of Sri Kudigan Nallur was donated to a temple in Madurai district in the hope that it will bring prosperity to the village. The stone oil mill has been discovered by a group of archaeologists and epigraphers who travelled to the region. Founder of the Vaigai Tholiyal Panpattu Kazhagam P Pavalbharathi, professor K M Alagarsamy, rock art expert K T Gandhirajan, and researcher A Arun, who had gone on a field exploration to Periyakattalai village in Peraiyur block in Madurai district were part of the group that discovered the mill.
The stone mill appears to belong to the Pandya period, dating back to about 1,100 years, says Gandhirajan. “It has ‘vattezhuthu’ inscriptions on the outer rim. This was the script used between the 3rd century AD and 10th century AD. The writing says that the oil mill was made by villagers of Sri Kudigan Nallur. We believe it may have been crafted by a man named ‘Patta Saalian’ as this is a name inscribed on it,” says Pavalbharathi. “Village administrations and chieftains donated oil mills to village temples seeking the welfare of their families or for the village as a whole.” Land donated to temples during the early Pandya period was called ‘Nallur’, says Gandhirajan.
Villagers told the group that several centuries ago there was an ‘agraharam’ in the village where Brahmins resided. “We also found iron ore deposits and pieces of broken pottery in many places in the surrounding regions,” says Gandhirajan. The circular oil mill is 32 inches in diameter with a depression of 23 inches wide and 14 inches deep. Unlike the usual oil mills, the bottom of this stone mill is wide like a tub. “Oil mills are usually narrower at the bottom when compared to the top and there is a hole on the side for the oil to drain out,” says Pavalbharathi. Epigraphist C Santhalingam and archaeologist S Rajagopal, who deciphered the inscription, say it is an important find from the early Pandya period. “The peculiar shape of the mill is what makes it significant,” says Santhalingam. Email your

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