The national institute may undertake subsea exploration of the harbour

With more antiques being uncovered from the seabed of the Tangasseri breakwater complex by the day, the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) may undertake a sub-sea exploration of the harbour.

Principal Technical Officer at the Marine Archaeology Centre of the NIO Sundaresh and Director of the Kerala Council of Historical Research (KCHR) P.J. Cheriyan visited the harbour on Saturday for a preliminary inspection of the site. The NIO and the KCHR are partners in Pattanam excavations. Prof. Cheriyan said he had contacted Director of Ports Jacob Thomas for formalities required for underwater exploration of the harbour. He said the exploration, if any, would be carried out in association with the Ports Department and the Archaeology Department.

The exploration would not affect the dredging work under way at the harbour. Prof. Cheriyan said the exploration would cover areas beyond the breakwater complex. “We understand that areas beyond the dredging site of the Kollam waters have the potential for underwater archaeological exploration, for which a master plan will be prepared,” he said.

The discovery of antiques has turned the harbour complex into a tourist attraction. A team from the History Department of Mahatma Gandhi University visited the site on Saturday.

The majority of people arrive to see Chinese coins. Some of the visitors were seen collecting antique potsherds strewn all over the complex. But local people, mainly boys, were seen collecting the items and handing it over to a counter opened by the Archaeology Department at the complex.

A small payment for the items handed over at the counter keeps the boys interested.

Few Chinese coins are reaching the counter even though there are reports that a good number of the coins are with some local people.

There are reports that dealers in Feng shui products are after the coins as the coins have good value in the market.

While the Archaeology Department offers Rs.10 for a coin, the dealers, mainly from Tamil Nadu, and other collectors are offering more.

As the police were not deployed at the harbour complex today as announced yesterday, District Collector Pranab Jyothinath issued a written directive to deploy the police at the site.