NATIONAL

Dutch help for Muziris project

: A Dutch heritage conservation agency is likely to help the Muziris project with underwater archaeological study at Pallippuram and Kottappuram, where the remains of Dutch and Portuguese fortifications still survive, and also trace the route change of the Periyar in the 14{+t}{+h}century.

The forts, most of which have been washed away by time and water, form part of the Muziris heritage conservation and tourism project that link up areas around the ancient port of Muziris. The project, spearheaded by the Kerala Tourism Department, aims to showcase and conserve the archaeological, cultural and commercial heritage of these areas by marrying tourism with heritage conservation.

On an invitation by the Muziris project authorities, a four-member Dutch team is now in Kerala to get a hands-on feel of the areas and assess the level of Dutch partnership. “We are assessing how to support the project with Dutch expertise in certain areas so that it could throw light on Dutch economic and cultural history in Kerala in the 17 {+t} {+h} and 18 {+t} {+h} centuries,” said Robert Parthesius, director of the Leiden-based Centre for International Heritage Activities. (After defeating the Portuguese in 1664, the Dutch held sway over Kochi for nearly a century.)

Mr. Parthesius, a specialist in maritime and underwater cultural heritage (MUCH), who is an Associate Professor of archaeology at Leiden University, told The Hindu that the forts had over time tumbled into water and a study of the remains could retell Kerala's maritime history and recollect the cultural and trade heritage Kerala had with Portugal, the Netherlands and other countries. He noted that maritime archaeologists could, by analysing an ancient shipwreck, reconstruct the maritime history of a place. He said the Dutch National Archives in The Hague held a treasure trove of records relating to Kerala. Moreover, the Dutch records at Tamil Nadu's State archives in Chennai were now being digitised by the Dutch authorities.

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