Archaeological excavations by an Oxford research team at Dorchester Village in England have thrown up interesting finds

Southern India’s trade links with Rome in the early Iron Age is reminiscent of the Roman invasion of England around the same period, Dr. Wendy Morrison of the Oxford University has said.

Speaking with the Pattanam excavation team of the Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR) at the archaeological site on Friday, Dr. Morrison said the archaeological excavations carried out by an Oxford research team at Dorchester Village had thrown up some interesting finds on the country’s cultural and trade links with Rome.

“We’ve stumbled upon some interesting finds, which point to the fact that early Iron Age people settled by the Thames River would have engaged in trade with the Romans,” she said, during a telephone conversation with The Hindu. Artefacts unearthed at the excavation site had been carbon-dated to conclusively prove their age, she said.

Dr. Morrison said it was heartening to see that Pattanam, near North Paravur, also had similar ties with Romans during the same period. It would be good if the Pattanam excavation team came to Dorchester to partake in the excavations there, as it would help them gain a better perspective on the nature of relationships that existed between both regions and Rome. It would also result in an understanding of the cultural dimensions of the relationship. She said Oxford’s memorandum of understanding with the KCHR would pave the way for the Pattanam team to conduct excavations at Dorchester next year.

While the Romans faced opposition from the British elsewhere, the archaeological finds indicated the existence of a peaceful trade relation between Dorchester and Rome, said Dr. Morrison.

P.J. Cherian, KCHR director who heads the Pattanam research team, said the history of Kerala’s trade links with Rome dated back to first century BC. It was around the same time that the Romans invaded Britain. The nature of the relationship was similar vis-à-vis the yesteryear town of Pattanam, which first saw human habitation in BC 1000 and the arrival of the Romans in BC 100, he said. While Dorchester was a few hundred kilometres away, the Romans had travelled about 9,000 kilometres to establish a commercial network with coastal Kerala.

More In: Kochi