Megalithic Dolmen Site

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Unique terracotta figurines in different states of preservation have been found in recent archaeological explorations conducted in the megalithic dolmen site at Mudu Konaje, near Moodbidri, in Dakshina Kannada.

About Megalithic Dolmen Site

  • Megalithic culture is known by its different types of burials and use of iron in India. Dolmen is one among them.
  • Features 
    • Under a dolmen, huge stone slabs known as orthostats were erected in clockwise order, which created a square room.
    • This square chamber was closed by an another huge stone slab as a cap stone.
    • Generally, on the Eastern slab, a round or U-shaped entrance known as port-hole was created.
    • It was known by different names in South India like Kalmane, Pandavara Mane, Moriyara Mane and Moriyara Betta etc which reveals its popularity among the common people.


Key findings in Mudu Konaje site

  • The figurines were datable to 800-700 BC.
  • It was the biggest megalithic dolmen site which consisted nine dolmens on the slope of a stone hill.
  • Of the eight figurines found, there are two cow bovinesone mother goddess, two peacocks, a horse, a hand of a mother goddess, and an unknown object.
    • One of the two cow bovines is a solid handmade human body with a bull’s head and is about 9 cm in height and 5 cm in width.
    • It has a clear snout of a bull and its femininity is well attested by two breasts attached by the applique method.
    • A thin line of grove is created from below the right arm till the left side of the neck.
    • It has two arms, but the hands are broken. The left arm is turned towards the front. Flatten wide belly and a round section below the belly is seen. Indication of two legs is clearly found. Elongated round bun at the back of the head as headgear is seen.
    • The second cow bovine is another solid handmade figurine which is about 7.5 cm in height and 4 cm in width.
    • It has a bovine snout and an archtype head gear. It has applique ornamentation round the neck and below the belly. At the bottom there are no legs but a prop to stand the image.
    • One of the two peacocks is a solid peacock which is about 11 cm in height and 7 cm in width. It is dipped into red ochre and its feathers are down towards the earth.
    • Another peacock has the elongated head created separately, which can be insert able into a shallow body. The body is missing and the feathers are designed upwards.
    • The torso of a mother goddess has no head, hands and legs
  • Significance
    • The cow bovines found in the dolmens helps to determine the chronology of the dolmens.
    • Terracottas found in the megalithic burial provides a solid ground for the study of the Bhoota cult or Daiva Aradhane of coastal Karnataka.
    • Cow bovine or Cow goddess had its parallels in Malampuzha megalithic terracotta figurines of Kerala and Egypt.


Q1) What is Terracotta?

Terracotta is a type of fired clay pottery or ceramicware that has been used for various purposes throughout history. It is shaped into various forms, such as pots, tiles, sculptures, and architectural elements. After shaping, the clay is typically dried and then fired in a kiln at a high temperature to harden it.

Source: Ancient terracotta figurines found during archaeological explorations at the megalithic dolmen site near Moodbidri