Dredging for the Kollam cargo port churns out artefacts which could throw more light on the city’s history.

It was not an archaeological excavation. But, while dredging was on for the Kollam cargo port, the seabed yielded a cache of archaeological artefacts.

With this, the Tangasseri harbour complex in Kollam city has suddenly been pushed into the archaeological spotlight.

A team from the Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR), led by its Director P.J. Cherian, inspected the site, and collected the artefacts, including some coins.

Some archaeology enthusiasts claimed that the coins and other objects were 2,000 years old and from China. Nothing could be authentically established, sources said. The emergence of these artefacts from the sea could be used to establish that Kollam was a rich port city and trade centre of yore. Those were the days when ships from ancient China, Greece, Persia, and Rome regularly called at Kollam. There were claims that Kollam had a thriving Christian settlement even before the arrival of the Europeans, sources said.

Jonakapuram, an area in Kollam city, could probably owe its name to the Jewish settlement of those days in Kollam, said Dr. Cherian. Following some yet-to-be-established developments, the ships suddenly stopped calling at the port, he said.

Studies had also indicated that a vast portion of the bay used to be land till a couple of centuries ago, sources said.

After a preliminary examination of the artefacts collected by the KCHR team, Dr. Cherian said some of the pottery fragments appeared to be of Mesopotamian origin.

A couple of them were glazed both inside and outside. It suggested that they were used for some special purpose. One of the objects was a deep-blue glass piece with ‘ribbed work’ suggesting it could be of Roman origin, he said.

With more studies, these objects could throw light on the history of Kollam, he said. “What has been brought out in dredging has converted the port into a historically important site,” he said.

Archaeology enthusiast Manoj Kini said the site was ‘rich and archaeologically charged.’

Mr. Kini, instrumental in bringing the KCHR team to the site, said ignoring what had come out of the sea at Tangasseri would be a historical loss for Kollam.