Saluvankuppam coastal temple excavation and application of soil micromorphology

Publication Type:

Journal Articles


Current Science, CURRENT SCIENCE ASSOCIATION, Volume 100, Number 7, p.1071–1075 (2011)



The 26 December 2004 tsunami exposed an inscription of the 10th century engraved on a rock boulder at Saluvankuppam, 6 km north of Mamallapuram. The inscription indicates the existence of a Subramanya temple. The temple and the mound around the granite inselberg were excavated by the Archaeological Survey of India, Chennai Circle. The excavation exposed the entire Subramanya temple complex constructed over a period of time (4th/5th CE to 12th/13th CE). The temple complex and the litho sections reveal phases of temple building activity. The cement and lime used for the temple complex contain fragments of shells. Soil micromorphology technique was applied to understand the type of textures and fabric in soil sediments, bricks, potsherds, well rims, bone fragments, etc., using a polarized microscope. Thin sections of the laterite bricks which formed the foundation indicate high content of hematite, magnetite, kaolinite patches and the porosity of the laterite brick varies from 5% to 10% only, whereas thin sections of potsherds indicate that the firing temperature was fairly low and that the pots were well fired. Geoarcheology study of this temple complex indicates that a number of naturally occurring raw materials have been used for constructing this temple that were locally available.


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