Mud tubes used for casting metal, mud furnaces and traces of molten iron are found around the places of Porpanaikkottai and Thiruvarangulam. A site is located in the southern parts of Porpanaikkottai Fort by Manganoor Manikandan, founder Pudukkottai Archeological Research Foundation. A Heritage walk has been organized by this foundation which is lead by Pudukai Selva, and C.A. Manikandan under the guidance of Melappanaiyoor Rajendren. The team has identified
Terracotta pipes which might have used for casting molten metal. They have also found furnaces made of stone and mud in this area.
Manganoor Manikandan opine that it confirms the historic data available at hand says that there existed metal furnace.
The state of Pudukkottai has published a state manual which is composed by K.R.Venkatrama Ayyar. The manual was published in the year 1938. This state manual has references to the rule of Veerapandiya of 13th century. It clearly states that in the fourth year of Veerapandiyans rule there were several sites of smelting units.
Moreover the statistical gazette which is published in the year 1813 also mentions the presence of several tracts of iron ore.
Another reference to the fact is present in the Bailey Report of 1811. This report say that every year iron ore which was worth Rs.1300 is extracted from this area. The same report further says that even at the beginning of the 19th century these iron smelting furnaces were functioned.
Evidences for the Iron Smelting Furnaces
The area spreading across Thiruvarangulam to Porpanaikkottai is littered with iron wastage, Mud furnaces, and buckets used for extracting the iron ore. They are present in ruined shape.
The metal furnace at Porpanaikkottai and the global data of ancient furnaces.
There was a furnace which is used to extract silver existed in the year 483 BC at Attica in Athens of Greece. Similar metal furnace was found in Armenia which dates back to 300 BC. Another ancient metal furnace was discovered at Palestine which dates back to 1200 BC. The furnace present at Porpanaikkottai is similar to the structures mentioned above.
Sennakkuzhi furnace and Sanga Tamil
The pond inside the fort is called neeravi, and the other pond is called pani nazhalm. These names themselves proves that they are chaste Sanga Tamil words.
The ancient furnace at Porpanaikottai is called as Sennakkuli, which is chaste Sanga Tamil Noun for a pit with red fire which is similar to tongue. The Tamil word Sen means the colour red, and the word “na” stands for the fire flames which danced like tongue and the word kuzhi depicts pit. From this linguistic analysis one can easily understand that these pits were once served as furnaces, where fire burnt like tongue.
These data confirm that these furnaces must be functioned from the Tamil Sanga Period.
Evidences that prove the site as a Furnace
Some may think that if the furnace is on laterite stone it itself would have melted. But the ore is powdered into small pellets and mixed up with carbon particles and put under first stage ore extraction, in which the mix is heated up and concentrated with carbon particles. This conditioned mix is used in the second stage. These facts can be worth remembering here.
Moreover these kind of furnaces can only be built near the area which is rich in ore. The fallow up visits to the sites prove this too.
In this light we can understand that even if the furnace was made of latrite stone it will not melt as per physics.
The inner walls of pits make different noises when patted with hand, shows the varied heat level exposure.
Are these pits water tanks for animals?
Manganoor Manikandan opines that these pits are definitely not water tank for animals, for no animal will take water from a stone pit, carved below its reach. No animal can kneel down and take water. And who on earth would drill pits in laterite rock, that too in many shapes.
So definitely these pits are not water tanks for animals confirms Manikandan.
These pits are stage two furnaces
These pits might be served as second stage furnaces for which the concentrated raw material would have been supplied from a primary furnace. The sightings of numerous casting tubes made of clay proves that here existed an ancient furnace which produced weapons and utensils for people. These facts proves that the existence of a technologically advanced society was present in this area.