Terracota figurines of Mother Godess has been found in three locations in Tamil Nadu, of which one has been dated to pre-Christian era and the others to 8-9th century AD.
Archaeologists estimate that the two figurines found at Andipatti belong to 8th to 12th century A.D. They also found three potsherds with Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions there.
One reads “kan narpo” and department epigraphists date it between 4th and 5th century A.D. The other two Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions, written on pot lids, read: “… aa th tha… ” and “…ku ma… ” They may belong to an earlier period.
T.S. Sridhar, Special Commissioner, said the 12 trenches dug at Andipatti in Chengam taluq of Tiruvannamalai district yielded a cornucopia of artefacts.
They included a figurine of Goddess Durga, a bull, coarse red ware, black and red ware, a few pieces of Roman pottery, terracotta beads, spindle whorls, iron knife and nails, copper objects, an incomplete well, bangles made of conch shell with beautiful designs, human torso made of terracotta and so on.
“On the basis of the unearthed antiquities, it can be deduced that Andipatti was inhabited by humans from the 1st century B.C. to 12th century A.D. Andipatti was a megalithic site. The discovery of spindle whorls and iron objects shows the industrial activity in the area,” he said.
The Mother Goddess cult is one of the earliest cults in India. It was prevalent during the Harappan period (circa 3,500 B.C.). It was a fertility cult. Mother Goddess figurines have been found in several places in Tamil Nadu such as Adichanallur near Tirunelveli, Melaperumballam near Poompuhar and Poluvaampatti near Coimbatore. All of them are made of terracotta. If the figurine is depicted in the nude, it “definitely signifies a fertility cult,” said an archaeologist.
Fifteen trenches were dug at Modur in Palacode taluq of Dharmapuri district. They yielded spectacular objects such as celts, polishing and grinding stones, hammers made of stones and cylindrical pestles belonging to the Neolithic period. The megalithic objects found were black and red ware, grey ware and red slipped ware. Artefacts such as terracotta figurines, decorative potsherds, spindle whorls, shell bangles, well-crafted smoking pipes and graffiti potsherds belonged to the historical period after 1st century A.D. [ Mother Goddess figurines found in Tamil Nadu]
The Brahmi script was initially thought to be bought to the South by Jain and Buddhist monks in 3rd century BC, but later discoveries refined the date to Buddha’s time. From this news, it looks like the Brahmi script was in use till the 5th century AD. The Wikipedia entry on Tamil says that the language was initially written in Brahmi, then moved to the Grantha script into the current vattezhuthu script sometime between the 6th and 10th centuries AD.