Staff Reporter

Botanical remains, including spices, unearthed

Evidences of relations with West Asia, North Africa

KOCHI: Key findings in the second stage of the archaeological excavations as part of the Muzuris Heritage Programme this year are the botanical remains in the water-logged areas near Pattanam that yielded the remains of a canoe, bollard, rope made from an unidentified plant fibre, teak, pepper, cardamom, paddy, coconut shell and frankincense.

Paleobotanist M.D. Kajale from Deccan College of Archaeology has collected samples of these organic remains to be subjected to closer scrutiny. The samples would be studied by other experts in India and they would also be sent to laboratories outside India to determine their period, said a statement from the Kerala Council of Historical Research (KCHR) here.

According to P.J. Cherian, director of the project, a layer of clay prevented oxidation and helped preserve the remains in the area.

Archaeological Survey of India, Southern Naval Command and State Department of Archaeology have joined KCHR in the research exercise that also includes underwater excavations.

The excavation work for this year would end on April 30 and the trenches would be open to public on April 29 and 30, said the statement from KCHR.

The excavation site is at Pattanam, near North Paravur, on the property of M.J. Lali Mazhuvancherri and Vatsala Kumari, Padamadathil.

Besides Dr. Cherian, project coordinators K.P. Shajan and V. Selvakumar led the research work.

The excavations revealed that the area was inhabited continuously between 8th century BC and 10th century AD.

The Iron Age layer yielded pot shreds and iron implements. Later layers gave up evidences of relations with West Asia, North Africa and the Mediterranean coasts.

Pot shreds from Sassania and Parthia were among the excavation findings. Structural remains of buildings made of burnt bricks, remains of a wharf, clay utensils, and glass beads were also excavated.

Seven early Chera copper coins and a lead coin were also unearthed. They were in highly corroded state and would be subject to further studies, said Dr. Cherian.