Stones believed to be of historical value recovered from seafront

Pieces of history: Slabs of granite and laterite being recovered from the Fort Kochi seafront on Wednesday morning.  

A motley group of people, comprising the local ward councillor, a documentation assistant, and two museum guides from the State Archaeology Department, and a set of local history buffs, moved to safety a few slabs of granite from the Fort Kochi seafront, in an effort to protect the historical significance, they say, the stones hold.

From the area adjacent to the Chinese finishing nets, 11 pieces of granite and one of laterite were retrieved on Wednesday morning, said K. Harikumar, a documentation assistant with the State Archaeology Department, and officer in-charge of the museum at Bastion Bungalow. “The period to which they belong is still uncertain. The Portuguese were known to have used laterite more than granite, so they could predate the Portuguese period. The curved nature of some of the blocks indicates that they could have been part of a pillar,” he said. The slabs of stone were moved to the garden in front of the Bastion Bungalow.

‘Effort to protect them'

This was an effort to protect these pieces of history before work on the Water Metro project begins and destroys it, said Antony Kureethara, councillor representing Fort Kochi, who was part of the team that retrieved the stones. Shovels and excavators were put to use to wrench the stones out of the land that belongs to the Cochin Port Trust.

E. Dinesan, Director of the Archaeology Department, was cautious about declaring the historical significance of the stones.

“We have not examined the stones yet and are still unsure of what they may have been a part of. If they lie on the beach, we won’t be able to preserve them. The intention was to move them to a safer location and then study the significance,” he said. Thaha Ibrahim, a history enthusiast who is part of the team, also suggested that these remains could have been built in the Portuguese period and might have been destroyed when the Dutch laid claim to the area, or they might have existed when the Portuguese arrived at Fort Kochi.

“If the Portuguese constructed it, they could be at least 500 years old. But further study is necessary,” he added. When a few historically important buildings were razed to the ground for Water Metro work recently, the significance of conserving the stones was brought to the fore. The laterite stone was possibly part of the remains of Fort Immanuel that was constructed by the Portuguese in 1503, said a statement from Mr. Harikumar. The remains will be available at the Bastion Bungalow for viewing and study on all days except Monday, when the museum is closed.

The area is a goldmine for archaeological remains, and just a little work would reveal these remnants, said former Mayor K.J. Sohan.

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Printable version | Apr 22, 2021 12:07:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/stones-believed-to-be-of-historical-value-recovered-from-seafront/article33927960.ece

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