In hunt of Muziris
INTACH Coimbatore takes behind 2000 years in hunt of the Romans
A rather mediocre patch of land greets us at Pattanam. This is it? We are station on an archaeological site. Recent excavations prove this was part of an ancient pier city, Muziris. “You have to use your imagination. There was a bustling Roman allotment here,” says S. Suresh. He is Tamil Nadu State Convener, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). He is heading us on a two-day debate of 2,000-year-old Roman settlements. The birthright tour, organized by Kalaivani Chengappa (convener, Coimbatore chapter, INTACH), will retrace the footsteps of Roman traders from the time they landed at Muziris (in Ernakulam district) to Kodumanal (in Erode district) by Vellalore in Coimbatore, 2,000 years ago.
“Romans came here to trade in spices, generally pepper, as good as gemstones, textiles, ivory, sandalwood and iron and steel. In exchange, they brought with them wine, bullion and silver,” says Suresh. He points to one side of the site where huge concrete containers reason shards of pottery. “The bigger pieces that enclosed almost total amphora and pots have been taken divided for protected keeping,” he explains. The excavations in Pattanam are being carried out by the Kerala Council for Historical Research.
It is believed that Pattanam is the earlier Muziris, a pivotal pier where the Roman traders initial landed. The Periyar River once flowed into the sea here. But the stream must have altered its course, says Suresh. “Along with Mediterranean pottery, potion beads, semi-precious stones and steel nails, they have unearthed an whole vessel not too distant from here.” Another reason to trust that Pattanam could really good be the dead Muziris.
Our subsequent stop is Azhicode, Kodungallur, where the Mar Thoma Pontifical Shrine stands unaware the Periyar as it flows into the sea. St Thomas is said to have founded the church that now binds his vestige — a bone from his arm. He is believed to have landed on the Malabar seashore on one of the Roman vessels. We now follow in his footsteps and go to another tiny hamlet, Eeyal, where a banana rancher clearing his land detected dual tiny caves and a cache of Roman coins. People trust St. Thomas complacent in these caves. This site is singular because it is one of the really few where both china and bullion coins have been excavated.
The biggest transport of Roman coins in this part of the world, says Suresh, was unearthed in Vellalore, in Coimbatore.
Vellalore, Padaiyur, Pollachi, Kodumanal and Noyyal, all find discuss in ancient Latin and Tamil records. And Vellalore is where the second day’s debate kicks off. We are collected at Sri Chitra Gupthar Yama Dharmaraja Temple, because in the 19th Century, a huge transport of Roman coins was found right here. We then conduct to Padaiyur, where quantities of beryl were unearthed. They were mined there in the Roman days and then taken to Kodumanal, which is mid between Muziris on the Arabian Sea and Kaveripattinam on the Bay of Bengal. According to Suresh, this little encampment was once a vast Roman allotment with workshops where iron ore brought from the circuitously Chennimalai Hills was fake into weapons for the Romans. There is a story that one of Julius Caesar’s swords was made right here!
The Archeological Survey of India, Tamil University and the Central University of Pondicherry have carried out endless excavations at Kodumanal. We are met by Ramchandran, a former math clergyman and, currently, the Village Administrative Officer. He accompanies us on a wander along the banks of the Noyyal. A circuitously mine site yields shards of patterned pottery. Ramachandran shows us a megalithic funeral site on his land that has been left open for open viewing. Similar sites have yielded many treasures, including a gem-encrusted bullion tiger, he tells us. But these are not Roman artefacts.
About 50 km divided in Erode, at the Kalaimagal Kalvi Nilayam, is a museum that has copiousness of Roman artefacts. During some building activity in the school, stays of Roman urns and coins were found there. The propagandize has a beautiful museum displaying these and other commentary from Erode and Gobichettipalayam districts. The conspicuous museum is the final leg of our tour.
Kalaivani Chengappa and S. Suresh horde a wealthy cooking on the final day, and the Roman surprises continue. Suresh appears dressed as a Roman soldier and tells us that at least dual of the dishes we will be eating that dusk are Roman recipes. We are served a vast white and pinkish cake with an olive spray iced on it, and a fruit salad served with nuts and honey. That concludes our Roman holiday.
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