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Archaeological Findings Point to Ancient Indo-Roman Trade

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Kara Sundstrom
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« on: July 17, 2010, 12:38:43 am »

Archaeological Findings Point to Ancient Indo-Roman Trade
      Date Submitted: Thu Jul 15, 2010



Giving an impetus to the archaeological excavations of Muziris, an ancient port city believed to have existed on the banks of Periyar, at least 18 wooden pegs have been unearthed from an excavation site at Kodungalloor near here.

Found at the depth of four metres, the pegs have pointed edges and are 15 to 20 cm long.

The unearthing of the wood samples is a landmark event in the Pattanam excavation project and is expected to throw light on the life and times of the inhabitants of the area centuries ago, said a top archaeologist.

“Excavation has almost reached the natural layer where no human interventions are identifiable. So the find has come as a surprise to us,” said P J Cherian, head of the Pattanam excavations, being carried out by the Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR).

To trace the exact age, the pegs would be sent to various authentic science laboratories including Oxford University for radiocarbon dating.

Experts at the Kerala Forest Research Institute have also examined the finds.

Evidences of formation of ‘peat’ were also found in two excavation trenches, he said adding that peat is a spongy layer of botanical remains deposited over a long period of time.

“It could date back to about 25 centuries,” Cherian said.

For many decades, native as well as foreign historians have been debating the existence of Muziris, the ancient port city on Kerala coasts somewhere near Kodungalloor.

Muziris is said to have key trade links with Romans and Jews. A place called ‘Muchiri’ was to referred in ancient Sangam literature, Indo-Roman travelogues and Graeco-Roman accounts.

According to historians, Arabs, Egyptians and Romans had presumed to have visited the port frequently in their large ships during first century BC or even before that.

They think that the port city was washed off from the map of antiquity after the ‘cyclone and flood’ in Periyar in the year 1341 which even re-shaped the very geography and topography of the river and its surrounding places.

The assumptions regarding Muziris had a twist with the the striking excavations done by K P Shajan and V Selvakumar at a non-descript village named Pattanam located near north Paravoor, just 8 km from Kodungalloor across the Periyar.

The pottery shreds they unearthed from the site gave indications about Indo-Roman trade that existed in Kerala centuries back.

With the approval of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), KCHR has been conducting comprehensive researches at Pattanam since 2007.

Brick architectural remains, large Roman storage jars used in ancient times to transport articles like wine and olive oil, West Asian and Arabian pottery, Roman jewellery, glass beads and various copper objects were some of the findings unearthed from Pattanam so far.

http://www.indiajournal.com/pages/event.php?id=11753
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