Nellore District has a number of important archaeological sites. The maritime settlement of Gottiprolu, mentioned in the preceding post, dates back to the 1st century CE. In 2017, a team of researchers from the Sri Venkateswara University discovered a major megalithic site in the village of Pidikitimala. Occupying 100 acres, it had a dozen cist burials (each of them 30 feet by 27 feet). The site was 3,500 years old, from the Megalithic Period of South India. Cists are ancient burial chambers made of stone or hollowed out trees. The Megalithic Period of South India saw thousands of stone burial chambers and memorials being erected. These are believed to be the handiwork of Dravidian-speakers.

Given below is an article ‘3,500-yr-old mass burial ground discovered by Tirupati varsity’ that appeared in ‘India Today’ magazine (dated March 11, 2017):

A 3,500-year-old colossal mass burial ground, believed to be of the Megalithic period, has been unearthed by a research team of the city-based Sri Venkateswara University. The discovery was made at an area in Nellore districts Pidikitimala village, a senior varsity professor said today. The mass burial ground is spread over 100 acres with over a dozen cist burials, each measuring 30 feet by 27 feet, in Raakasi Mitta area, around 60 km from here, Professor at the Department of Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology, Dr V Sakuntalamma, said.

Cists, an early type of grave, were mainly used for burials in the Bronze Age. They usually contained one or more bodies of both men and women. The Professor said huge boulders in conical and round shapes were found around each burial. Some burials had two layers of circles with boulders around them, she said, adding all all the finds are believed to be over 3500-years-old Megalithic burials. “Some axes and scrappers were also collected by the team for academic purposes,” she said.

The discovery happened by chance after a student from a village close to the site informed them about it a year ago. Subsequently, students, research scholars and professors from the department rushed to the spot and found it, she said. “Our team has visited the place three times and we will continue our visits to the site for research. We will not take up excavation work on the site as we are not supposed to do so,” she said. 

The Professor said they had not informed the Archaeological Survey of India of their find “as it is was not their responsibility.” “However, recently UGC was informed about it, along with other research works to be taken up on UGC funds,” she said. Dr Sakuntalamma said the team noticed that about 50 acres at the site had already been damaged by some persons using earth movers and other machinery.

Image Attribution: The image above, sourced from Wikimedia Commons, shows the Marayur Dolmen of Marayur, Idukki District, Kerala. Dolmens, like cists, were constructed during the Megalithic Period of South India. Megalithic sites are present all over peninsular India, in Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.