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Archaeologists Unearth Roman Era Artefacts In Kerala (India)
Daily India ^ | 3-24-2007

Posted on 03/25/2007 4:44:54 PM PDT by blam

Archaeologists unearth Roman era artefacts in Kerala

From our ANI Correspondent

Pattanam (Kerala), Mar 23: What began as exploratory studies in Kerala, has thrown up enough artefacts and structures of two millennia old Indo-Roman trade era to delight archaeologists, who are looking for the lost port of Muziris.

Archaeological teams in Pattanam village, near the port city of Kochi have been working on a site, which has yielded pottery, amphora, beads and other artefacts that are reminiscent of the ancient Romans.

"The initial studies carried out in this region have amply indicated that there was a Roman presence. The Roman ceramics, pottery and coins found here indicates deeper Roman ties and therefore, based on the artefacts abounding this area, we presented a proposal to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) which got approved," said the Director of the Kerala Council for Historical Research, P J Cherian,

Cherian has been heading a study that has been a parallel exercise to the excavation and conservation being carried out under his guidance.

"The most exciting thing we have excavated today is a human remains. In our climatic conditions and soil acidity, it is hard to expect these kinds of remains to stay intact. So, now we will send these identified human remains to the laboratory for further analysis," added Cherian.

Historians believe the lost port of Muziris was key to trade between India and the Roman Empire. For many years, people have been in search of the almost mythical port, known as Vanchi to the locals.

Pattanam is the only site in the region to produce architectural features and material contemporary to the period.

Speculations and guesses for the location of Muziris had initially hinted on the mouth of the State's Periyar River, at a place called Kodungallor - but now evidence suggests a smaller town nearby, Pattanam, is the real location.

Many pieces of amphora were found, at the now excavated site, which is a Mediterranean pottery.

The ancient town was an exchange point according to scriptures. The Romans brought in gold and took back the region's aromatic spices, including 'black gold'- pepper.

In 1983, a large hoard of Roman coins was found at a site around six miles from Pattanam.

However, even if Muziris has been found, one mystery remains - how it disappeared so completely in the first place.

While archaeologists and scholars celebrate, the owners of the piece of land are worried about their rights to the place.

"A few archaeologists came to us and asked permission to carry out excavations on our land. They said that they wanted to do some research on the place. They began digging deep and found artefacts and now that it is an archaeological site, we wonder what will happen to our land," said Valsala Kumari, who hoped to get back her land.

With the site now being marked as an Archaeological treasure, Kumari and her family say, they never knew the place would throw up so much of the unknown.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: ancientnavigation; archaeology; artefacts; godsgravesglyphs; india; kerala; navigation; roman; romanempire
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1 posted on 03/25/2007 4:44:55 PM PDT by blam
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To: SunkenCiv
GGG Ping.

Search for India's ancient city

BBC - 2006

Roman amphora pieces abound in Pattanam

Archaeologists working on India's south-west coast believe they may have solved the mystery of the location of a major port which was key to trade between India and the Roman Empire - Muziris, in the modern-day state of Kerala. For many years, people have been in search of the almost mythical port, known as Vanchi to locals.

Much-recorded in Roman times, Muziris was a major centre for trade between Rome and southern India - but appeared to have simply disappeared.

Now, however, an investigation by two archaeologists - KP Shajan and V Selvakumar - has placed the ancient port as having existed where the small town of Pattanam now stands, on India's south-west Malabar coast.

"It is the first time these remains have been found on this coast," Dr Sharjan told BBC World Service's Discovery programme.

"We believe it could be Muziris."

Key evidence

Pattanam is the only site in the region to produce architectural features and material contemporary to the period.

"No other site in India has yielded this much archaeological evidence," said Dr Roberta Tomber, of the British Museum.

"We knew it was very important, and we knew if we could find it, there should be Roman and other Western artefacts there - but we hadn't been able to locate it on the ground."

Muziris is located on a river, distant from Tindis - by river and sea, 500 stadia; and by river from the shore, 20 stadia.Roman description of the location of Muziris

Until recently, the best guesses for the location of Muziris centred on the mouth of the Periyar river, at a place called Kodungallor - but now the evidence suggests a smaller town nearby, Pattanam, is the real location.

Drs Shajan and Selvakumar now meet locals on a regular basis as they continue their work, with some older people in particular remembering picking up glass beads and pottery after heavy rains.

Undoubtedly, they told Discovery, the many pieces of amphora are from the Mediterranean - a key to establishing Pattanam as the place where Muziris once stood.

"These amphora are so common," Dr Shajan said.

"We have hundreds of shards of Mediterranean pottery."

Mystery disappearance

Muziris became important because of the Romans' interest in trading, and their desire to have contact with regions beyond the reach of conquest and set up trading routes with these places.

"India had a long fascination for the Romans, going back to Alexander the Great," Dr Tomber said.

Glass and precious stones are key finds in the site area "Alexander was a huge model for succeeding Roman emperors, and the fact that he had been in India and brought back tales of the fantastic things, the people and products there, heightened the Roman desire to continue that association."

What is known, from a 1st Century document, is that the harbour was "exceptionally important for trade."

Clues to its location are provided in ancient Indian texts. Professor Rajan Gerta, from Mahatma Gandhi University in Kerala, said that there are many references to "ships coming with gold, and going back with 'black gold'" - pepper.

"These ships went back with a whole lot of pepper and various aromatic spices, collected from the forests," he added.

Merchants from a number of different cultures are believed to have operated in the port, and there are numerous Indian finds from the time as well as Roman ones.

In 1983, a large hoard of Roman coins was found at a site around six miles from Pattanam.

However, even if Muziris has been found, one mystery remains - how it disappeared so completely in the first place.

Dr Tomber said that it has always been presumed that the flow of the trade between Rome and India lasted between the 1st Century BC through to the end of the 1st Century AD, but that there is growing evidence that this trade continued much longer, into the 6th and early 7th Century - although not necessarily continually.

"We're not quite clear how long it went on in Muziris, and the more evidence we can gather from the artefacts, the clearer the picture that will build up," she added.

"What is interesting is that in the 6th Century, a Greek writer, writing about the Indian Ocean, wrote that the Malabar coast was still a thriving centre for the export of pepper - but he doesn't mention Muziris."

2 posted on 03/25/2007 4:51:32 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam

When Rome collapsed, so did India.


3 posted on 03/25/2007 4:53:41 PM PDT by RightWhale (Treaty rules;commerce droolz; Repeal the Treaty)
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To: blam
Detailed study on Muziris- the story of Syrian Christians

Posted on February 16th, 2007.

The BBC reports a significant discovery - that of the identification of the trading port of Muziris in the Indian state of Kerela. As many have suspected, but none had proved until now, it is the town of Pattanam. Muziris was a centre for the pepper trade.

The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea calls it of “leading importance” describing it: Muziris, of the same kingdom, abounds in ships sent there with cargoes fromArabia, and by the Greeks; it is located on a river, distant from Tyndis by river and sea five hundred stadia, and up the river from the shore twenty stadia.

With any luck archaeologists will discover the Templ(um) Augusti which was built there by Romans and is identified on the Peutinger Map.

Pliny the Elder was not a fan of the city. In the Natural History (6.26) he rather damns it:If the wind, called Hippalus, happens to be blowing, it is possible to arrive in forty days at the nearest market of India, called Muziris. This, however, is not a particularly desirable place to disembark, on account of the pirates which frequent its vicinity, where they occupy a place called Nitrias; nor, in fact, is it very rich in products. Besides, the road-stead for shipping is a considerable distance from the shore, and the cargoes have to be conveyed in boats, either for loading or discharging.One of the most fascinating pieces of evidence about Muziris, however, is a papyrus in Vienna unappealing called P. Vindob. G 40822. Discovered only in 1985, it sets out the details of a maritime loan agreement between a ship owner - possibly of the Hermapollon mentioned on the verso of the papyrus - and a merchant using the ship as security.

The crucial passage reads:With regard to there being - if, on the occurrence of the date for repayment specified in the loan agreements at Muziris, I do not then rightfully pay off the aforementioned loan in my name - there then being to you or your agents or managers the choice and full power, at your discretion, to carry out an execution without due notification or summons.What this suggests is that the loan agreement was agreed in Muziris itself (though possibly signed on arrival at the Red Sea) indicating a rather active Roman merchant colony on the Kerelan coast. The best dicussion is Casson, L, “New Light on Maritime Loans: P. Vindob. G 40822”, ZPE 84 (1990), 195–206.

From India’s National Institute of Oceanography, here is a presentation given by KP Shajan and V Selvakumar of their evidence for identifying Muziris with Pattanam in Kerela. Note - it is a fairly hefty pdf of a PowerPoint presentation.

The evidence they give is convincing and illustrations from maps as well as of artefacts - for the most part amphorae fragments, not just Roman, but Yemenese, Mesopotamian, Sassinid and West Asian ones too - are particularly welcomeConstruction work is damaging the ancient remains. Pottery shards, beads, Roman copper coins and ancient wine bottles litter the strata beneath this small seaside village in India’s southern Kerala state.The 250 families, mostly agricultural labourers, who live in Pattanam, 260km north of Kerala’s capital Thiruvananthapuram, find the objects pretty, but would rather dig up the ground and build larger homes.But according to archaeologists KP Shajan and V Selvakumar, they may be destroying the remnants of Muziris, a well-documented trading port where Rome and India met almost 3 000 years ago.Muziris mysteriously dropped off the map

They say that, based on remote sensing data, a river close to Pattanam had changed its course and the ancient port may have been buried due to earthquakes or floods.
The two are worried construction activity in the village will destroy evidence about the existence of the port before they get the chance to examine it scientifically.
“There is no doubt that Pattanam was a major port that is linked to Indo-Roman trade,” Shajan said. “But we can’t confirm whether it was Muziris. We need more collaborative evidence to support our findings.”

A majority of the families that live in Pattanam are demolishing old tiled-roof structures and replacing them with concrete buildings right in the middle of the 1,5km zone where Shajan and Selvakumar say Muziris was possibly located.
Muziris was a port city mentioned in several ancient travelogues and scholarly texts as a major centre of trade between India and Rome, especially in pepper and other spices around the second century BC to probably as late as the sixth century AD.Christianity may have been introduced to the sub-continent through Muziris, historians say.

But Muziris mysteriously dropped off the map - maybe to war, plague, or disaster.
The two archaeologists say they want to find out for sure and have asked local preservation groups to help.Kerala’s Historical Research Council, an independent body that promotes research in history, says it has written to the Archaeological Survey of India, which is in charge of protecting monuments and historical places, to take steps to protect Pattanam.But KV Kunjikrishnan, a professor of history, says neither the government nor the Archaeological Survey of India has responded.
“The construction activity in the area may destroy vital evidence of historical importance,” says Kunjikrishnan.Pattanam housewife Sheeba Murali says ancient beads pop out from the ground after heavy rains and the 30-year-old history graduate, like some other villagers, collects them and hands them over to the archaeologists.

Villagers say they used to get gold coins from the site, but kept the finds quiet.“Nobody admits whatever things they get.
We are scared that the government may take over our land for archaeological survey,” says villager Arun Rajagopal. It was from Rajagopal’s land that the two archaeologists discovered beads, layer of bricks, wine bottles, jars, pendants and copper coins.Selvakumar says the ancient bricks, which the villagers used to build their homes, bore a close resemblance to those used 2 500 years ago.
“During my excavations I collected a wide range of pottery which goes back to the historic date. Amphorae, roulette ware, beads, nails and several other artefacts such as copper coins were also recovered,” he says.But Sheeba says villagers will continue building new homes.

“My children need a decent place to stay when they grow up.
But I am thrilled to live in a place where history sleeps,” she says.

The Hindu reports that an archaeological license has been issued by the Archaeological Survey of India for Pattanam, aka Muziris, starting January.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has issued a licence for conducting archaeological excavation at Pattanam near here.
The licence was issued to the Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR) for conducting excavations at the site from where artefact was obtained during some trial diggings. The State Archaeology Department will also be associating with the programme.

The KCHR was given exploratory licence for the Paravur, Kodungalloor and Chettuva region and an excavation licence for Pattanam region, said P.J. Cherian, director of the KCHR, who is also the director of the Pattanam excavation programme.
The council proposed to begin the work by the second week of January. The full-fledged excavation would begin during February-March period, he said.

Earlier, the ASI had issued a licence to the Archaeology Department for conducting the explorations at the site. However, not much work could be carried out during the three-year term allotted to the department.
The council intended to bring in a number of national institutions and experts for the excavation programme.
The Marine Archaeology wing of the ASI, the Deccan College of Archaeology andThanjavur University were some of the institutions that would be associating with the programme.

A panel of experts would also be drawn up for overseeing the work, he said. The council approached the Southern Naval Command for conducting under-water exploratory studies that were to be held as part of the excavation, Dr. Cherian said.Archaeologists K.P. Shajan and V. Selvakumar are the co-directors of the Pattanam project.
According to indications, the Archaeology Department would be the custodian of the artefact that might be excavated from the site.
Trail excavations done in the region had unearthed fragments of imported Roman amphora, Yemenese and West Asian pottery, bricks, tiles and beads.
Potsherds with five letters of Tamil Brahmi inscription and another one with a single letter of `Vattezhuthu’ script were also excavated earlier from the area. The trial excavations, held in April 2004, had also yielded a Chera coin, a few glass and stone beads and amphora fragments.

4 posted on 03/25/2007 5:01:18 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam

India had a long fascination for the Romans, going back to Alexander the Great," Dr Tomber said.

Glass and precious stones are key finds in the site area "Alexander was a huge model for succeeding Roman emperors."

Problem with Dr Tombers facts. Alexander was Macedonian/Greek, not Roman. Otherwise, interesting story.


5 posted on 03/25/2007 5:03:08 PM PDT by Pete from Shawnee Mission
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To: Pete from Shawnee Mission

Everything west of Baghdad was Rome in those days. Alexander might as well have been Roman as far as the Persians were concerned, which is probably where the scholar got his info.


6 posted on 03/25/2007 5:05:38 PM PDT by RightWhale (Treaty rules;commerce droolz; Repeal the Treaty)
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To: RightWhale

Navigation Route From Rome To Muziris

7 posted on 03/25/2007 5:13:48 PM PDT by blam
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To: Pete from Shawnee Mission
Problem with Dr Tombers facts. Alexander was Macedonian/Greek, not Roman. Otherwise, interesting story.

I don't see the problem in his facts he said Alexander was a model for the Roman emperors not that he himself was Roman and the Romans were most definitely beholden to the Greeks.

8 posted on 03/25/2007 5:15:34 PM PDT by bkepley
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To: blam

That may have been the first leg of the route to Solomon's Mines.


9 posted on 03/25/2007 5:16:25 PM PDT by RightWhale (Treaty rules;commerce droolz; Repeal the Treaty)
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To: RightWhale
"That may have been the first leg of the route to Solomon's Mines."

Ahem, they would have gone through the straits at Gibralter to get to Peru where the mines were.

10 posted on 03/25/2007 6:13:11 PM PDT by blam
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To: RightWhale

Alexander the Great (Greek: Megas Alexandros;) July 20 356 BC–June 10, 323 BC)...Before his death, he conquered most of the world known to the ancient Greeks.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_the_Great

189 BC: Antiochus III, king of the Seleucids, is defeated at the battle of Magnesia and surrenders his possessions in Europe and Asia Minor.

(This is when the Hellenistic empire established by Alexander fell and became Roman.)

http://www.scaruffi.com/politics/romans.html

At the time of Alexander Rome was a small group of minor city states on the italian penninsula. Not a major trading power and not an empire. It is doubtful that India knew much of the Romans at the time of Alexander's unsuccessful invastion of India.

From the article:

"The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea calls it of “leading importance” describing it: Muziris, of the same kingdom, abounds in ships sent there with cargoes fromArabia, and by the Greeks"

No mention of Roman ships. After 189 BC perhaps, but probably not before.


11 posted on 03/25/2007 7:39:45 PM PDT by Pete from Shawnee Mission
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To: bkepley

"India had a long fascination for the Romans, going back to Alexander the Great"

There was no question that the Romans admired Alexander and tried to emulate him.


12 posted on 03/25/2007 7:42:35 PM PDT by Pete from Shawnee Mission
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To: RightWhale

Byzantium continued to trade after Rome proper fell. Moslems disrupted the sea trade between the West and India in the 7th Century. It also disrupted much of the Mediterrean trade and helped accelerate the coming of the Dark Ages in Europe.


13 posted on 03/25/2007 8:06:08 PM PDT by Eternal_Bear
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To: Pete from Shawnee Mission

After Conquering what is now Iraq in the early 2nd Century. The Emperor Trajan reflected on whether to push on to India but he was too old and died soon after. He was the only Roman Emperor to sail on the Perisan Gulf. The City of Um Quasar on the Gulf is named for Kaiser (derived from Caesar)Wilhelm but it could apply to Caesar Trajan who actually visited there.


14 posted on 03/25/2007 8:19:50 PM PDT by Eternal_Bear
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To: Eternal_Bear
"It also disrupted much of the Mediterrean trade and helped accelerate the coming of the Dark Ages in Europe. "

The 540AD 'Dark Ages' were a worldwide event...recorded in the tree-rings all around the world.

The Dark Ages: Were They Darker Than We Imagined?

15 posted on 03/25/2007 9:32:42 PM PDT by blam
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very related topic:

Tamil Trade
INTAMM | 1997 | Xavier S. Thani Nayagam
Posted on 09/11/2004 11:07:01 PM EDT by SunkenCiv
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/1213591/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/1213591/posts?page=4#4
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/1213591/posts?page=6#6
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/1213591/posts?page=12#12
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/1213591/posts?page=15#15


16 posted on 03/25/2007 9:51:22 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (I last updated my profile on Saturday, March 24, 2007. https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: blam; FairOpinion; StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; 24Karet; 3AngelaD; 49th; ...
Thanks Blam.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list. Thanks.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on or off the
"Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list or GGG weekly digest
-- Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)

17 posted on 03/25/2007 9:51:38 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (I last updated my profile on Saturday, March 24, 2007. https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: bkepley; blam; Eternal_Bear; Pete from Shawnee Mission; RightWhale

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/1806669/posts?page=16#16

*and*

Roman relics found near Elephanta
Daily News & Analysis | Friday, September 15, 2006 | Ninad D Sheth
Posted on 09/15/2006 3:58:33 PM EDT by SunkenCiv
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/chat/1702259/posts


18 posted on 03/25/2007 10:15:27 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (I last updated my profile on Saturday, March 24, 2007. https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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Arts of the Silk Roads
by John Major
Asia Society
A mirror from India with an ivory handle carved in the shape of a female fertility deity was buried under volcanic ash at Pompeii in 79 CE. Among the first images of Buddhist deities in human form were those carved in the province of Gandhara (present-day Pakistan) in the 2nd century CE. Unlike anthropomorphic Buddhist images carved farther south in India, these Gandharan figures, which were based on provincial Roman models, wear heavy, toga-like robes and have wavy hair. The figural tradition of Buddhist art spread through Central and East Asia and also to Southeast Asia, taking on local and regional characteristics.

19 posted on 03/25/2007 10:15:57 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (I last updated my profile on Saturday, March 24, 2007. https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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somewhat related, probably of interest:

Salvaging Caligula [Nemi Ships, Caligula, and Mussolini]
Time | Feb. 4, 1929 | staff
Posted on 11/25/2005 7:40:21 PM EST by SunkenCiv
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/1528600/posts

Syracusia [Ships of the World: An Historical Encyclopedia]
Ships of the World: An Historical Encyclopedia | prior to 2006 | Houghton Mifflin
Posted on 01/28/2006 11:46:55 PM EST by SunkenCiv
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/1567208/posts


20 posted on 03/25/2007 10:19:22 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (I last updated my profile on Saturday, March 24, 2007. https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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