Artefacts from the lost Port of Muziris

Updated - April 07, 2016 02:31 am IST

Published - December 03, 2014 08:39 am IST - NEW DELHI:

Visitors at the “Unearthing Pattanam: Histories, Cultures, Crossing” exhibition at the National Museum. Photo: S. Subramanium

Visitors at the “Unearthing Pattanam: Histories, Cultures, Crossing” exhibition at the National Museum. Photo: S. Subramanium

In an effort to understand the early history of our country better, an exhibition on one of India’s most significant archaeological excavations — “Unearthing Pattanam: Histories, Cultures, Crossing” — is on at the National Museum here.

The material evidence unearthed at the excavation site, located about 25 km north of Kochi, points to the possibility that Pattanam may have been an integral part of the legendary Port of Muziris.

The Port, which finds a mention in Indian and European classical sources and was the centre of global spice trade more than 2,000 years ago, mysteriously disappeared in the 14th Century.

The chronology of the site spans three millennia from circa 1,000 BCE, with evidence of habitation across the Iron Age, the Early Historic, Medieval and the Modern cultural periods.

P.J. Cherian, the curator of the exhibition and the head of the Pattanam excavations, said evidence from the excavation indicates the intercontinental connections India had 2,000 years back.

“This is 15 centuries before Vasco da Gama arrived in India, which many consider as the beginning of our contact with Europe,” he added.

Artefacts unearthed range from pottery and jewellery to coins and documents that show how the region was connected to other ports across the world. Apart from displaying the various artefacts that have been unearthed, there is an audio-visual presentation that shows the entire process of excavation. The videos show how meticulous one has to be in maintaining records and how brushing and scraping needs to be done much care or an artefact may be destroyed.

Commenting on the exhibition, Museum Director-General Venu Vasudevan said: “The exhibition is significant, as on the one hand it gives an opportunity to the academic community to critically examine what is a very important archaeological project and on the other, it is also a lively way of showcasing archaeology before a young audience.”

The exhibition will kick-start a critical discussion on a range of topics like the maritime history of the Indian subcontinent and what happened to the mysterious Muziris, he added.

The exhibition has been put together by the Kerala Council of Historical Research (KCHR) at the initiative of the National Museum in collaboration with Sahapedia.

The exhibition will be on till January 10.

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