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Kerala govt opens 4 museums of Muziris heritage project



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 Company for Muziris heritage

DC | 05th Sep 2013

Thiruvananthapuram: The cabinet on Wednesday decided to form a company for the development of the Muziris heritage site to tap its  tourism potential. At the cabinet briefing, Chief Minister  Oommen Chandy said that initially it would be a government- owned company and subsequently it would be converted to the PPP model.

Director KCHR and Pattanam Excavations, P.J. Cherian, welcomed the decision saying it was an initiative to involve the people at large in heritage management.  He said such steps would also help people in protecting and maintaining such sites.  “These sites have to be preserved for future generations,’’ he added.



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Muziris: Dr. Nagaswamy nails false propaganda on St. Thomas – Media Reports

“When looking at the literature on the life of St. Thomas, it is not mentioned anywhere that he came to India. It is only a myth, which has now been connected with the excavations at Pattanam, near Kodungalloor,” – Dr. R. Nagaswamy

Thomas & Hindu Assassin

R. Nagaswamy

Thiruvananthapuram: The effort made by some interested quarters to link the Muziris excavations with the visit of St. Thomas Apostlehas been criticised by eminent archaeologist and former director of the Tamil Nadu Archaeological Survey of India, R. Nagaswamy.

“When looking at the literature on the life of St. Thomas, it is not mentioned anywhere that he came to India. It is only a myth, which has now been connected with the excavations at Pattanam, nearKodungalloor,” the former visiting professor of Jawaharlal Nehru University told Express.

In fact, the ancient Muziris port must have been located in Kodungalloor and not in Pattanam because all major ports in ancient times were situated at river mouths. And so it is safe to assume that Muziris was at Kodungalloor, where the river joins the sea.

He felt there was a hidden agenda by certain sections to propagate the idea that Muziris was connected to Pattanam, where St. Thomas is believed to have landed, and not with Kodungalloor.

Myth cannot be called history. Connecting myth with history could only create confusion and distort history, he said. “There is no substantial evidence to say that Pattanam is connected with Muziris. How was this conclusion reached? Those who claim to have found materials to connect Pattanam with Muziris have forgotten that these materials were also found in the eastern and the western costs of the country,” said Nagaswamy. – Express Buzz & IBNLive, Thiruvananthapuram, August 7, 2011

Kottakkavu St. Thomas Church


Paravoor: St Thomas Church in Maliankara which was constructed as a historical monument of the visit of St Thomas Apostle, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ, who landed in Maliankara in AD 52, should be included in the Muziris Heritage Project, urgedKottapuram Bishop Dr. Joseph Karikkassery.

Bishop Karikkassery visited the church in Maliankara, the monument constructed to perpetuate the visit of the apostle.

St Thomas is believed to have disembarked from a trading vessel at Kodungalloor Maliankara and baptised several people in various parts of the country. Cardinal Tisserant representing the Holy See, had installed the historical monument at St Thomas Church in Maliankara.

Bishop Karikkassery was accompanied by Diocese Chancellor Fr. Nixon Kattassery and Procurator Fr. Tegy Thanippilly. They were received by Fr. Joshy Muttickal and Fr. Shyjan Panackal at the church. – Express Buzz, Paravoor, April 21, 2011

Bishop Joseph Karikkassery



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A Broken Padmasana: The Fissured Buddha of Pattanam

// November 2nd, 2012 // Cultural Politics

Whatever is the essence of the Tathagata,
That is the essence of the world.

The Tathagata has no essence.

The world is without essence.

                        Nagarjuna, Mulamadhyamakakarika, XXII:16

Crossed legs and part of the left hand completing a solemn Padmasana. Demolished above the waist in the violent conquest in the middle ages. Now worshiped as Yakshi at Nileeswaram Siva temple, Pattanam. Ernakulam dist, Kerala.

It was Prof P J Cherian the director of KCHR and the Pattanam/Muziris  excavation project who drew my attention to certain broken granite sculptures kept in Pattanam Nileeswaram Siva temple a couple of months ago.  A retired school master told him about the fragments, says Prof Cherian.  These fragments were recovered some 70 to 80 years ago from the temple pond and placed on the raised platform of the Yakshi outside the Nalambalam structure beneath a Pipal by the pond.

The pedestal and half-undone Padmasana idol from the back. It was recovered from the temple pond almost a century ago and placed on the Yakshi platform by the pond under a Pipal tree. Mavelikara, Kayamkulam and Kattanam Buddhas were also recovered by the people from current Savarna temples at the same time.

People still worship these broken idols as Naga Yakshi and Naga Raja.  But in close examination they were found to be of different statues.  A seated figure in Padmasana is the vital fragment.  Yesterday, 26 Oct 2012 I got time to visit Pattanam and had a close and enlightening view of the fragments.  It is placed on a pedestal with a water chute.  The iconographic style, color of the stone, chiseling style and texture of the stone closely resemble the Buddha idols recovered from Mavelikara, Karumady, Bharanikavu and Kayamkulam in the south.

Four fragments are placed together and that is why it was difficult for the people to decipher the mystery of Pattanam Buddha. It again is a hegemonic act of obscurantism and erasure of vital past by the obliterating Savarna Brahmanical forces who still specialize in burying their own past in a repressive and fascist way.

This idol in Padmasana seems to be demolished above the waist and is the only one resembling a Buddha idol reported to be recovered so far from Ernakulam district.  The regions between Edapally and Vadanapally thrive in place names with the common affix Pally, a Pali word signifying a Chamana sacred place.  All other Buddha idols recovered so far are from Alapuzha and Kollam districts.  Plenty of similar Buddha sculptures are also reported from Tyaganur, Ariyalur, Nagapatinam and other parts of Tamil Nadu, especially in Madurai and Tirunelveli districts.

Tyaganur Buddha in the open field for the last one thousand years or more, from Tamil Nadu.
Photo: The Hindu

Any way it is very important to note that the idol fragments were recovered from the temple pond.  It was the same in Mavelikara, Kayamkulam, Pallykal and Karumady.  All the Buddha idols in Kerala were recovered from current Savarna temple ponds or paddy fields in their vicinity.  They were violently attacked uprooted and thrown or buried in ponds and marshes.  The Buddha at Tyaganur is still sitting pretty in the open field exposed to the elements almost a millennium after its creation by skilled sculptors or Chamana sages themselves.

Perfect disguise of the past:  the fragmets placed together in an ambiguous way.  Nileeswaram temple at Pattanam is so close to Cherai the birth place of Sahodaran Ayyappan who initiated the neo buddhist movement in Kerala during the renaissance cultural revolutions in early 20th century. Sahodaran has written extensively on the destruction of buddhist shrines in Kerala by Brahmanic Hindutva forces like Kodungallur and Srimulavasam in particular. Remember his song “O don’t go to the Bharani O brothers…”  Because of his scathing critique of Brahmanism and Savarna elitism,  Sahodaran the greatest organic intellectual that Kerala has ever produced was systematically excluded from the high canon and  textbooks by the Savarna literati, who instead celebrated Asan for his mild Hinduized worldview.

It is not likely to be a Jain Thirthankara image because there is no Mudra or symbols of animals or Chaitya trees associated with each Thirthankara on the base or pedestal.  Moreover the stylization of the figure and its seated posture and orientation of the limbs closely echo the Buddhas at Mavelikara, Karumady and Bharanikavu.  P C Alexander and S N Sadasivan who wrote the history of Buddhism in Kerala  have argued that these south Kerala Buddhas resonate the Anuradhapura style of stone sculpting and chiseling.  The blackness and density of the granite and the exquisite oily suppleness of appearance closely link the Pattanam fragment to its counter parts in Alapuzha and Kollam and in the far south in Srilanka.

Mavelikara Buddha, recovered from the paddy field adjacent to Kandiyur temple and placed at the Buddha Junction, Mavelikara. Note the lotus posture/Padmasana with crossed legs and connected hands. See the tone and texture of the stone and its colour that is recurring in all the Buddha idols including the Pattanam Buddha recovered from Kerala.

It is a mockery of history that these invaluable  fragments of Pattanam went unnoticed and unidentified for the last one century.  It shows the repressive power of the mainstream Savarna Hindu ideology and common sense that becomes hegemonic and annihilating.  Crucial suppression and erasure of collective consciousness, memory, past and integrity under cultural hegemony is a key aspect of Kerala’s elite culture called Savarna supremacism.  Genocidal and symbolic violence and perpetual erasures and mutilations are its chief tenets.  These historic and epistemic violences are legitimized in the name of an omnipotent god and timeless religion.  The pivotal significance of the archetypal phallus or the Linga in the Saivite Hindutva appraisal gains meaning in these contexts.

Pattanam Buddha idol (half demolished, above waist): An early photo by KCHR photographer. Iconography, Chiseling style, Stone type, texture and color closely resembling Buddha idols recovered at Mavelikara, Karumady, Kattanam and Kayamkulam. By courtesy of Prof P J Cherian and KCHR

The broken figure in Padmasana at Pattanam is yet another key-marker of the cultural reality and history of Kerala.  It proves once again that grave and material violence was used to convert and modify the ethical and egalitarian spiritual practices and instructive places in Kerala during the early middle ages by Brahmanic Hinduism and its strategic appropriating tropes like Saivism and Vaishnavism.  The Brahmanic henchmen belonging mostly to the Maravar and Kallar clans, literally demolished and buried all the traces of Buddhism and its non violent culture in Kerala with true Sudra allegiance and slave like fidelity to their caste- sovereigns, the earthly gods or Bhudeva.

Buddha at Bharanikavu Pallykal, Katanam near Kayamkulam. It was also recovered from a pond behind the current Hindu temple in early 20th century. Till then it was used as a washing stone and foot cleaning stone in the temple pond. See the close similarity in chiseling style and lotus posture; with Mavelikara, Karumady and Pattanam idols. Pallykal Buddha is dated to 7th century by experts.  Now protected by Archeological department of Kerala.

Suppression of reality, resistance and speech are still widely practiced by the Savarna power elites who monopolize every public institutions in the country, especially the higher academia and media.  The ideology and praxis of erasure and sanctioned ignorance or silence on the key aspects of collective past are still dominant practices in higher academia and media in Kerala and India at large.  Even the victims conform to this dominant practice out of compulsion from conventions and supervision from the orthodoxy.  Through such hegemonic measures of suppression and silencing the ethical and democratic Chamana culture of Kerala is pushed under the carpet even today in mainstream academic and media discourses.  Mainstream academic historians from the former Savarna social background argue that the idols are some exceptions brought here by some merchants and traders and not part of a people’s culture and tradition!  They are still keeping mum over the extensive presence of Pali words in Malayalam and the cultural symbols and images in the daily life practices of people related to Jain and Buddhist traditions.  Archaeological, cultural and linguistic evidences explode the silence of the self-fashioned academic scholars who make a monopoly of the “academic methodology and practice.”

The pedestal with lying human figures piled on one another on which the Padmasana figure is placed at Pattanam Nileeswaram Siva temple. Ernakulam dist of Kerala.  Note the easy chiseling possibility of modifying such  idols and seats into a Siva Linga.  It was practiced through out south India by Brahmanism and its assimilatory tropes like Saivism and Vaishnavism to convert Chamana Pallys.

The broken granite Buddha sculpture at Pattanam testifies this fascist violence that is still brewing in the present against minor sects, others and out castes in India by the Hindutva and Savarna henchmen.  Pattanam Buddha is a vital fragment of history that teaches us to be vigilant against cultural,  iconographic, architectural and epistemic violence and alterations by the power elite done with coercion and appropriating strategies.  It is striking that Pattanam is so close to Cherai where Sahodaran Ayyappan initiated the most dynamic neo buddhist discourse in Kerala along with C V Kunhiraman and Mitavadi C Krishnan in the early 20th century as part of the  cultural struggles now termed as Kerala renaissance under the visionary leadership of Narayana Guru who symbolically and radically subverted the Brahmanical hegemony through his Aruvipuram installation in 1888.

Sahodaran Ayyappan (1889-1968) wrote extensively on Buddhism in Kerala at the wake of the 20th century. His verses contain a special section “Baudha Kandam.” Instrumental in initiating neo buddhism in Kerala. Also initiated live dialogues with Ambedkarism and Periyor movement in early 20th century Kerala.

In his verse and prose he reintroduced the ethical message of the enlightened one to the people in their mother tongue Malayalam as against the Pali of the Amana monks. Sahodaran  journal was dedicated to the teaching of ethics to the dalitbahujan people in Kerala.  He used the Pipal leaf as its logo and compared the modern boddhisatva of Kerala, Narayana Guru to the Buddha himself.  The coinage “Sri Narayana-buddha”  is an insightful and futuristic semantic construction by Sahodaran.  He also inaugurated the rationalist and civil/human rights movement in Kerala in early 20th century that culminated in the Kerala model and modernity in a few decades.

Nileeswaram Siva temple at Pattanam. Towards the right background the big Pipal stands and beneath it the Buddha fragment is placed now and worshiped as Yakshi.  Pattanam excavation site is to the left background of this temple.

The shattered buddha of Pattanam is an immortal piece of art as well.  It tells us a lot about South Indian cultural history, iconography,  society and polity during the last few thousand years.  It is an icon of survival, resistance and articulation against invasions and imperialisms, both internal and external.  It is an ethical and spiritual work of art that is political and social as well, with its polyphonic significations and liberating visual cultural possibilities.  This invaluable treasure and heritage of the whole humanity and Kerala in particular must be preserved and protected by the people and their elected governments for future.  As the neo buddha of India has reminded us the people who do not know history, can not make history.

neo buddha of India: Ambedkar merged into the Buddha in the imagination of a dalit artist. Image from the internet.

It is vital to remember that the Padmasana a basic posture  in Indian Yoga traditions has its origin in the Indus valley Dravidian civilization that dates back to BC 3000.  The meditating Yogi in Padmasana amidst wild animals including the tiger and the elephant, recovered from terracotta seals in the Harrappan sites  is identified as one of the earliest artistic expressions of this unique nonviolent culture, ethical aesthetics and cosmological vision.

Indus valley seal of a Yogi in Padmasana: An earliest artistic expression of ascetic and ethical practice in India. Orientalists termed it as Siva as Pasupati. Now linked to the Sramana Yogic tradition of early Dravidian and pre-Jain/buddhist traditions. Image from internet

The orientalist scholars and early Hindutva ideologues instantly  declared it Siva as Pasupati or lord of the beasts.  But radical organic intellectuals from the people recovered this iconic image as the early manifestation of Indus valley Dravidian culture and ethics.  The rudimentary forms of Sramana/Amana/Chamana ascetic-ethical  tradition could be aptly traced back to this Yogi in Padmasana.  The Jain and Buddhist wisdom and philosophy of nonviolence, renunciation and being one with nature could be appropriately  identified with the spiritual tranquility and ethical stability of this human figure amidst animals and the wild forces of nature.

A Boddhisatva from contemporary Kerala who wanted to write on the Padmasana in Indian cultures from the Indus onwards, but could not : O V Vijayan with his life-partner Dr Theresa.Padmasanam was his last projected novel. Photo:

It is again vitally important to remember that O V Vijayan the legend of Malayalam letters was struggling to write his last novel titled Padmasanam as death separated him from us.  He was trying to connect the Indus valley Yogi in Padmasana with the numerous Sramana idols in south India in the same lotus posture, while negotiating with the Parkinson’s disease.  The Pattanam Buddha fragment is there fore the latest addition to this ethical and egalitarian cultural legacy of India that is ever growing and being rediscovered everyday by the people in their various walks of life, struggle and survival.  Preserving it for the world and for the posterity with correct details is going to be a task ahead for the people.

ajay sekher  2 Nov 2012




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Pattanam throws open many questions: Romila Thapar

Romila Thapar, historian, releases the Seventh Season report of the Pattanam excavations by handing over a copy to K.N. Panikkar, KCHR Chairman, in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday. P.J. Cherian, KCHR Director, looks on. Photo: S. Gopakumar

Romila Thapar, historian, releases the Seventh Season report of the Pattanam excavations by handing over a copy to K.N. Panikkar, KCHR Chairman, in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday. P.J. Cherian, KCHR Director, looks on. Photo: S. Gopakumar

The Pattanam excavation, apart from being bigger and wider than similar projects here, was significant in that it offered evidence that stressed the need to go deeper and closely into the trade connections the site had with the Eastern Mediterranean region, said historian Romila Thapar.

Releasing the seventh season report of the Pattanam excavation by the Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR) by handing over a copy to KCHR chairman K.N. Panikar here on Thursday, Dr. Thapar said the involvement of the Roman economy in the trade here, the nature of commercial exchanges and so on, for which the findings at Pattanam were evidence, had to be studied more closely.

Pointing out that Pattanam’s significance was that it suggested direct maritime connections with the ports of the Red Sea, Dr. Thapar said historians still had a great deal to do with Pattanam. The nature of the settlement there, for instance, was one to be explored. Whether it was just a warehouse, or where goods were produced for trade, or whether it was a port or a site that had sequential historical development – were all matters of intrigue. The innumerable shards of amphorae (wine jars), for instance, threw open questions whether a liking for wine was deliberately cultivated in the local people, or whether these shards were just remnants of wine jars that were used for ballast in ships. The percentage of Indian pottery at the site, in contrast to imported pottery too was important, she said, adding that Pattanam, indeed, was a turning point for studies into India’s maritime relations.

Dr. Thapar, however, expressed her reservations on the use of ancient DNA sampling techniques, raising doubts whether there was the danger of bacterial contaminations or mutations in samples taken from skeletons that were buried for over 2,000 years. Stating that the excavation of Pattanam would not be sufficient and that historians would have go further to find more roots, and details such as what was the language spoken in Pattanam, how their social life was, whether they had their own shrines, whether the traders mixed socially, or did they convert the locals, and since the chances were that Pattanam was a port, what were the connections with the hinterland and more importantly, what were the region’s contacts with the outer world, particularly with regions like Alexandria and Sri Lanka.

KCHR director P.J. Cherian, who made a presentation on the report and the present status, said the Council proposed international fellowships to widen the scope of the excavation, apart from initiating participatory site conservation efforts too.



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Tubular jars excavated at Pattanam puzzle researchers

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Archaeologists say that the 12 jars excavated at Pattnam, Kerala, are from fourth century CE, when this region had trade links to the Red Sea and the Mediterranean littoral. — Photo: Jishnu S. Chandran
The Hindu
Archaeologists say that the 12 jars excavated at Pattnam, Kerala, are from fourth century CE, when this region had trade links to the Red Sea and the Mediterranean littoral. — Photo: Jishnu S. Chandran

Spectrometry suggests they’re not of local origin

Surprises don’t seem to end at the excavation at Pattanam, 25 km from Kochi, conducted by the Kerala Council of Historical Research (KCHR).

During the ninth season of excavation this year, a row of eight tubular jars without bottom portions was found. The potter had deliberately left them open at both ends.

Altogether, 12 such tubular jars were found, eight in a vertical position, three that have fallen down and one with the portion broken. The jars are 40-cm tall, and the diameter of their rim is about 13 cm. They were found in the 61st trench, the latest to be excavated.

‘Nothing can be stored’

“These tubular jars are a puzzle. Nothing can be stored in them,” said P.J. Cherian, Director of the KCHR and the Pattanam excavation. The row of eight vertical jars was cut into a clay platform made of bricks, pottery and tile fragments. “The bottom of all these jars is open. They were hand-made,” he said.

The neck and rim of these jars resembled the torpedo jars found in the Mesopotamian and south Arabian regions with which Pattanam, or the ancient Muciri Pattinam, had trade links.

‘Yielded no clue’

“But when we dug further, we found that, unlike the torpedo jars, the bottom of all these jars was open. The mystery deepened when we scooped the soil sediment in the jars. It did not yield any clue,” Dr. Cherian said.

Researchers estimated that these jars, stratigraphically, belonged to the Early Historic period (fourth century CE) when the Indian Ocean transformed into a trade lake with links to the Red Sea and the Mediterranean littoral.

Pattanam is identified as the legendary port Muziris mentioned in the Greco-Roman classical sources. Many poems in the Tamil Sangam literature (third century BCE to third century CE) celebrate it as Muciri.



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The external connections of Early Historic Pattanam, India: the ceramic evidence

K.P. Shajan, P.J. Cherian, R. Tomber & V. Selvakumar

Figure 1
Figure 1. Map of sites mentioned in the text (A. Simpson).
Click to enlarge.
The site at Pattanam

The modern state of Kerala on the Malabar Coast of South India is rich in archaeological finds, particularly 'Megalithic' (Iron Age-Early Historic) burials. Until recently no archaeological evidence existed for settlement sites of the Early Historic period (300 BC-AD 500). This lacuna was filled when, as part of a geo-archaeological survey undertaken by the first author, a concentration of surface artefacts located an Early Historic settlement at the village of Pattanam, situated 5km south-east of the Periyar river mouth (Shajan et al. 2004) (Figures 1-2). Modern occupation has both hindered and assisted exploration, the latter by providing additional glimpses into sub-surface levels, which has resulted in the collection of more pottery. In 2004 a small, controlled excavation by the Centre for Heritage Studies, Thripunithura, uncovered a Megalithic-Early Medieval sequence (Selvakumar et al. 2005). A number of artefact classes, such as pottery and beads, indicate wide-ranging contacts at Pattanam during the Early Historic and Early Medieval (AD 500-1000) periods. In addition to being the first Early Historic settlement in Kerala, the pottery from Pattanam presents a number of other firsts that are reported on here.

Figure 2
Figure 2. View of a branch of the Periyar river, the Paravur thodu c. 1km south-west of Pattanam; inset: Trench I, Pattanam excavations (K.P. Shajan).
Click to enlarge.
Roman and Indian finewares

The presence of imported pottery has already been highlighted (Shajanet al. 2004), but an important new finding has since come to light from the excavation: a sherd of Italian sigillata from an Early Historic level. This is the first occurrence of Roman sigillata not only from the Malabar but from the entire west coast of India. Until recently, when three sherds were published from Alagankulam (Sridhar 2005: pl. 1), the only genuine Roman sigillata in India was from Arikamedu, comprising sherds from Syria (Eastern Sigillata A), Western Asia Minor (Eastern Sigillata B) and Italy (Slane 1996). Some of the Italian vessels from Arikamedu are large platters with thick bases (Slane 1996: Figures 7.1, 7.20, 7.22; Conspectus forms 11-12, 18-19) (Figure 3). The Pattanam sherd is small (c. 32 x 32mm) and heavily abraded with only a few millimetres of dark red slip adhering, but its thickness suggests that it too comes from the base of one of these platters and is likely to date to the late first century BC or early first century AD. This vessel fragment from Pattanam provides tangible evidence for contact between the two coasts. The Roman pottery found at Pattanam is thought to have arrived via the Egyptian Red Sea ports, where Italian sigillata is common at both Myos Hormos (Quseir al-Qadim) and Berenike.

Figure 3
Figure 3. Italian sigillata Conspectus form 18 (A. Simpson after Conspectus Tafel 16, 18.3.1).
Click to enlarge.

Contact between the south Indian coasts is reinforced by hundreds of sherds of Indian rouletted ware (Wheeler et al. 1946: fig. 12) at Pattanam (Figure 4). The type normally has an east coast concentration, and the Pattanam finds represent the first examples from the west coast. Here too a link can be made with the Red Sea ports as rouletted ware is present at both Myos Hormos and Berenike.

Roman amphorae
Figure 4
Figure 4. Left: Abraded rouletted ware sherds from Pattanam (V. Selvakumar). Right: rouletted ware sherds from Arikamedu (R. Tomber, courtesy of Pondicherry Museum).
Click to enlarge.

Additional imported pottery comprises Roman amphorae, of which c. 50+ sherds have been identified from the surface and Early Historic phases of the excavation. The most common is a wine amphora from the Campanian/Bay of Naples area, characterised by a 'black sand' fabric consisting of volcanic minerals and rocks (Figure 5) and dated between the late first century BC and first three-quarters of the first century AD. Other wine amphorae of a similar shape but composed of a different clay are also found at Pattanam, and may come from another source in Italy. Yet another wine amphora, which continued into the second century AD, originated in the Rhodian Peraea (Figure 6). These and additional fabric groups from Pattanam, which without rims, bases or handles cannot at present be assigned to specific types, have been examined in thin section to characterise their clays. This will provide an on-going dataset for Pattanam to help catalogue future finds. Amphorae have been found elsewhere in India, the largest assemblage from Arikamedu, but these are the first from the Malabar coast.

West Asian and Arabian pottery

Pottery from outside the Roman world is more difficult to date and two types represented span the Sasanian (AD 224-651) to Early Islamic period, and a combination of conventional dates and their position in the excavated sequence indicates rare pieces are Sasanian. This category includes turquoise glazed wares and storage vessels lined with bitumen, known as torpedo jars and used for carrying wine (Tomber 2007).

Figure 5
Figure 5. A: Campanian wine amphora. B: Campanian fabric in fresh fracture. C: Campanian fabric in thin section showing volcanic rocks and pyroxenes (P. Copeland, R.Tomber).
Click to enlarge.

Arabia is another potential source area for pottery imports represented by surface and excavated sherds. A pale-coloured organic tempered fabric (frequently with a black lining) is similar to one identified at Myos Hormos and Berenike (Tomber 2004) where it can be attributed to a source in the Hadramawt of Yemen and dated from the late first century BC/early first century AD to at least the fourth century. However, in this context a source in the Gulf is also possible, especially given the presence of other unsourced organic fabrics from Early Medieval contexts at Pattanam that may be from this region.

Pattanam: the port

The imported pottery from Pattanam demonstrates extensive external contacts and for both Roman and Sasanian types a mixture of transport containers and finewares are present. The pottery compares - although it comprises at this point a smaller and more reduced range - with that found at the major ports for Indian Ocean commerce active during the Early Historic period, such as Myos Hormos and Berenike on the Red Sea, Qana and Khor Rori in South Arabia (Tomber 2005; Sedov 1992), Ed-Dur in the Gulf (Rutten 2007) and Arikamedu (Slane 1996; Wheeler et al. 1946) on the Coromandal coast. These artefacts, together with the site size and its urban characteristics, all indicate that it was an important place and its location would have accommodated a port. As presented elsewhere (Shajan et al. 2004), there is a strong argument for equating Pattanam with the renowned Indo-Roman port Muziris, and on-going excavation by the Kerala Centre for Historical Research will help to determine if this is indeed the case.

Figure 6
Figure 6. Rhodian amphora (P. Copeland).
Click to enlarge.


The authors thank Dr Paul Roberts, British Museum, for confirming identification of the Italian sigillata. K.P. Shajan acknowledges the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research India for a research associate post, the Nehru Trust for the Indian Collections at the Victoria and Albert Museum for a 2005 fellowship that enabled him to conduct research in the UK and Prof Rajan Gurukkal, Mahatma Gandhi University, for his support during exploration. R. Tomber acknowledges the Arts and Humanities Research Council who funded this research through a grant held with Prof David Pea****. Photographs were edited by Penny Copeland.


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  • SHAJAN, K.P, R. TOMBER, V. SELVAKUMAR & P.J. CHERIAN. 2004. Locating the ancient port of Muziris: fresh findings from Pattanam. Journal of Roman Archaeology 17: 351-9.
  • SLANE, K.W. 1996. Other ancient ceramics imported from the Mediterranean, in V. Begley et alThe ancient port of Arikamedu: new excavations and researches 1989-1992 (Mémoires Archéologiques 22): 351-68. Pondichéry: Ecole française d'Extrême-Orient.
  • SRIDHAR, T.S. 2005. Alagankulam: ancient Roman port city of Tamil Nadu. Chennai: Department of Archaeology, Government of Tamilnadu.
  • TOMBER, R. 2004. Rome and South Arabia: new artefactual evidence from the Red Sea. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 34: 351-60.
    -2005. Trade relations in the eastern Mediterranean and beyond: the Egyptian-Indian connection, in M. Berg & L.E. Vaag (ed.) Trade relations in the eastern Mediterranean from the Late Hellenistic period to Late Antiquity: the ceramic evidence(Halicarnassian Studies 3): 221-33.
    -2007. Rome and Mesopotamia - importers into India in the first millennium AD. Antiquity 81: 972-88.
  • WHEELER, R.E.M., A. GHOSH & KRISHNA DEVA. 1946. Arikamedu: an Indo-Roman trading station on the east coast of India.Ancient India 2: 17-124.


* Author for correspondence

  • K.P. Shajan
    School of Marine Sciences, Cochin University of Science and Technology, Kochi, India
  • P.J. Cherian
    Kerala Council for Historical Research, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India
  • R. Tomber*
    Department of Conservation, Documentation and Science, The British Museum, London, UK
  • V. Selvakumar
    Department of Epigraphy and Archaeology, Tamil University, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, India



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   Image result for pattanam excavation  Image result for pattanam excavation Image result for pattanam excavation

All are small pits, and claims are for 3000 years old to 1500 year old articles, and which pit gave what is not said



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Image result for pattanam excavationM Rajendran, K Rajan and P J Cherian examining the remains of two handmaid terracotta storage jars recovered from the Trench PT 09 XIII, at a depth ofCONSERVATION INITIATIVE: Education MinisterM.A. Baby visits the excavation site at Pattanam on Friday.

M Rajendran, K Rajan and P J Cherian examining the remains of two handmaid terracotta storage jars recovered from the Trench PT 09 XIII, at a depth of
"We have over 129,000 artefacts from the excavations,” he said. “ But we are bringing only a representative selection enough to show our intercontinental maritime connection with the East and West.” 



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Image result for pattanam excavation Image result for pattanam excavation Image result for pattanam excavation

Historian Romila Thapar examining the Anakkara excavation site on may 20, 2008



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Kerala history -timeline
52 AD
* St Thomas Mission to Kerala
* First Christian Church at Kodungallur
68 AD
* Jews Migrates to Kerala
476 AD
* Birth of Aryabata
630 AD
* Huang Tsang visited Kerala
644 AD
* Malik Bin Dinar in Kerala to spread Islam religion
788 AD
* Birth of Sankaracharya
* Born at Kalady
820 AD
* Death of Sankaracharya
825 AD
* Beginning of Malayalam Era (August 15)
829 AD
* First Mamankam
* Celebrated once in 12 years at Thirunavaya
830 AD
* Vazhappalli Sasanam
849 AD
* Tasirappalli Sasanam
1292 AD
* Marco Polo visited Kerala
1295 AD
* Kozhikkode city established
1341 AD
* Floods in Periyar
1342 AD
* Ibn Batuta at Ezhimala
1440 AD
* Nocolo Conti visited Kerala
1498 AD
* Vasco-da Gama reached Calicut (May 17)
* He came in the ship St.Gabriel
1499 AD
* Pedro Alvaraz Cabral in Kozhikkode
1500 AD
* Period of Cherussery, author of Krishnagatha
1502 AD
* Vasco-da Gama’s second visit
1504 AD
* Kodungalloor War between Kochi and Kozhikkode
1505 AD
* First Portughese viceroy de-Almeda reached Cochi
1524 AD
* Vasco-da Gama died at Fort Cochin
1567 AD
* Jewish Synagogue established at Mattanchery
1579 AD
* Printing Press started at Vypinkara and Cochin by Jesuits
1592 AD
* Establishment of Dutch East India company
1599 AD
* Udayamperoor Sunnahados
1600 AD
* Kunjali Maraikkar, the head of Navy force of Zamorine was killed by the Portuguese at Goa
1616 AD
* Captian Keeling reached Kerala
* First British to come to Kerala
1663 AD
* Capture of Cochi by Dutch
1694 AD
* Talassery factory established
1695 AD
* Anjuthengu factory established
1721 AD
* Attingal Revolt (April 15)
1729 AD
* Marthanda Varma becomes king of Travancore
1741 AD
* Battle of Kulachal - Marthanda Varma defeated the Dutch
1750 AD
* Trippadidanam
1755 AD
* Last Mamankam
1761 AD
* Land revenue was estabished in Kochi
1766 AD
* Hyder Ali invades Malabar kingdoms
1772 AD
* Samkshepavedartham, the first book in Malayalam was published
* Written by Fr. Clement Piyanus Pathiri
1792 AD
* Treaty of Srirangapattanam
1797 AD
* Revolution by Pazhassi Raja
1805 AD
* Death of Pazhassi Raja
1800 AD
* Malabar distict became a province of Madras presidency
1809 AD
* Kundara Proclamation by Veluthambi Dalava (January 11)
1812 AD
* Kurichya Revolt
* Slave trade was abolished in Travancore by Rani Gauri Lekshmi Bhai
1817 AD
* Primary education made compulsory by Rani Gouri Lakshmi Bhai
1831 AD
* First Census was conducted in Travancore
1834 AD
* English education started in Travancore by Swathi Tirunal
1847 AD
* Rajyasamacharam, the first newspaper in Malayalam published by Herman Gundert
1853 AD
* Birth of Chattambi Swamikal
* His original name was Kunjan Pillai
* He came to be known as Vidyadhiraja
1854 AD
* Malabar Special Police (MSP) organized
1855 AD
* Birth of Sri Narayana Guru at Chempazhanthi
1861 AD
* First Railway line in Kerala between Baypore and Tirur (March 12)
1864 AD
* General Hospital established in Thiruvananthapuram during the region of Ayilyam Thrunal
1866 AD
* Ayyankali born at Venganur
1887 AD
* Sri Narayana Guru founded Siva temple at Aruvippuram
* First Novel in Malayalam Kundaletha by Appu Nedungadi was published
1891 AD
* Malayali Memorial
* It was a petition signed by 10,028 persons belonging to all casts and creeds, presented to Maharaja Sri Moolam Thirunal
* It highlighted the denial to the natives of a fair share in the administration of the state and particularly their exclusion from higher grades in government service
1896 AD
* Ezhava Memorial
* Birth of V K Krishnamenon
1903 AD
* Sri Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam established
1904 AD
* Sreemoolam Prajasabha, the first legislative assembly among princely stated in India established in Travancore
* First Railway in Travancore between Thirunelveli and Kollam
1905 AD
* ‘Swadesabhimani’ News paper was started by Vakkom Abdul Khader Moulavi
1907 AD
* Sadhujana Paripalana Yogam founded by Ayyankali
1914 AD
* Nair Service Society (NSS) was founded by Mannathu Padmanabhan
1917 AD
* Sahodara Sangham established by K Ayyappan
1920 AD
* Gandhiji’s first visit to India
* Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) was formed
* Secratory : K Madhavan Nair
1921 AD
* Wagon tragedy (November 10)
* All Kerala Political Conference was held at Ottapalam
* President : T Prakasam
1922 AD
* First Trade Union in Kerala, the Travancore Labor Association was formed
1924 AD
* Vaikkom Sathyagraham (March 30)
* Samadhi of Chattambi Swamikal
1928 AD
* Samadhi of Sri Narayana Guru at Sivagiri
1930 AD
* Salt Sathyagraha at Payyannur headed by K.Kelappan
* Kerala Kalamandalam established by Vallathol
1931 AD
* Guruvayoor Sathyagraha headed by K.Kelappan
1932 AD
* Nivarthana Movement
1934 AD
* Split in Congress
1935 AD
* Communist party formed in Malabar by Sri E.M.S.Namboothirippadu and Sri P.Krishna Pillai
1936 AD
* Temple Entry Proclamation by Sree Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma on the advice of Sir C.P.Ramaswami Iyyar (November 12)
1937 AD
* Travancore University was founded
1940 AD
* The first hydro electric project in Kerala was started at Pallivasal
1941 AD
* Kayyur Samaram
* Death of Ayyankai
1943 AD
* Thiruvananthapuram Radio station was set up
1946 AD
* Punnapra Vayalar Samaram



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Early Foreign Contacts of kerala-psc
1-Assyrians and Babylonians were the first to have
trade relations with ancient Kerala.
2-In 1500 BC the Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut, (first
woman ruler in the world), sent an expedition to Kerala for spices.
3-It is believed that Hippalus, a Greek navigator, came
to Muziris (Kodungallur) by sea in 45AD.
4-Hippalus discovered Monsoon winds in 45 AD.
5-Quilon was an important centre of Chinese trade.


6-Pepper got the name ‘Yavana priya’ because of its
high demand by the Romans and Greeks.
7-Italian (Venetian) traveller Marcopolo reached
Kerala in 1292 (13th Century).
8-Muziris, Tyndis, Barace and Nelcynda were the
famous sea ports in ancient Kerala.
9-African (Morocco) Traveller , Ibn Batuta reached
Kerala during 1342-1347.
10-Nicolo Conti reached Kerala in 1440.
11-The Cranganore port (Muziris) declined as a result
of the floods in the Periyar river in 1341.



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In An Ancient Land
Trade and Synagogues in South India

by Dr. Shalva Weil

Paradesi Synagogue 2010, photo courtesy of Shalva Weil

Interior Pardesi Synagogue

Sherds at the Pattanam Excavations 2010, photo courtesy of Shalva Wei

Opening of Chennamangalam Synagogue 2006, photo courtesy of Shalva Weil


The Calcutta-born novelist Amitav Ghosh tells the tale, in his novel In an Ancient Land, of a medieval traveler by the name of Abraham Ben Yiju who conducted an importexport business from Cairo through Aden to India. Ben Yiju was a member of the Synagogue of Ben Ezra, orthe"Synagogue of the Palestinians", as it used to be known while it was still standing, in Cairo, at the end of the nineteenth century. It was in that synagogue that congregation members used to accumulate and store their papers and manuscripts. The last In an Ancient Land Revisited Trade and Synagogues in South India document that is known to have been deposited in this Genizah was a get, a divorce settlement, authorized in Bombay (today Mumbai). 

The amazing thing about Ghosh’s novel is that Abraham Ben Yiju was a real person. He was born in Tunisia, and had extensive commercial connections with Hindus, Muslims and Christians, as well as with other Jews. In a recentmonumental volume entitled"India Traders of the Middle Ages: Documentsfrom the Cairo Geniza", which was edited by the illustrious Prof. S.D. Goitein, who devoted his life to the study of the Geniza manuscripts, and Prof. Mordechai Friedman, his long-time research assistant (who himself workedon the"India Book" since 1962), some 80 documents mentioning Ben Yiju and his family are mentioned. So for years, scholars have known about trade between the Middle East and India in pepper, cardamom, perfume, betel nut, gold and silver. 

Linguistic evidence points to an even earlier commercial connection between Israel and India’s Malabar Coast. In the Book of Kings it is narrated that the ships of King Solomon (c. tenth century 34 ASIAN JEWISH LIFE WINTER 2010-11 Feature by Dr. Shalva Weil Paradesi Synagogue 2010, photo courtesy of Shalva Weil bce) transported cargo such as kofim (apes), tukim (pea****s), and almag (sandalwood or valgum) to the Temple; these unique words in Hebrew are of South Indian origin. Travelers’ tales in the Talmud mention trade with India (Hoddu) and include specific Indian commodities, such as Indian ginger and iron. In the Book of Esther, the kingdom of King Ahaseuerus stretched from Hoddu, generally accepted to be India, to Kush, generally accepted to be Nubia or Ethiopia. From the ninth century ce Jewish merchants known as Radanites traded from the Middle East to South Asia and back. The documents discovered in the Cairo Genizah mentioned above describe the trade in spices, pharmaceuticals, textiles, metals, gold, silver, and silks from the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries between Arabicspeaking Jews and Hindu partners. Until recently, archaeological evidencehas been scanty to "prove" early maritime trade with South India. Now, in one of the world’s most fascinating archaeological excavations, the legendary port of Muziris, mentioned by the Romans and in Tamil texts, has been discovered in Kerala in South India. In 2006, the Kerala government launched the Muziris Heritage Project to “scientifically retrieve and preserve thelegacy of Muziris." Muziris or Pattanam, near Cranganore, mentioned so often by the Cochin Jews of the Malabar Coast in their oral history and folksongs, is believed to be that legendary port. The archaeological excavations are being undertaken by the Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR) at Pattanam with the collaborative support of major research institutions inside and outside India. They are in consultation with researchers in history, archaeology, geology, paleo-botany, archaeozoology, physical anthropology, geophysics, chemistry, marine archaeology, chemical oceanography, metallurgy, epigraphy and conservation sciences. 

When I asked Dr. PJ Cherian, Director of the Pattanam Archaeological Research since 2007, whether the excavations have revealed any link with Jewish settlement in South India, hereplied:"Not yet but we are optimistic of finding some material evidence of their ancient Indian contacts - even I would say dating to the pre-Roman period. One of the interesting finds of the last season was the Turquoise Glazed Pottery (TGP) of west Asian origin in the pre-Roman layers. We are awaiting its analytical report and hope it will be of help in tracing the early Jewish linkswith the Malabar Coast." To date, 650 sherds (also known as potsherds) of glazed table wares and 850 sherds of torpedo jars from Iraq and western Iran have been dug out of the Pattanam trenches along with Mediterranean pottery sherds. Dr. Cherian is hopeful that the excavations will reveal a direct Jewish connection. 

The Department of Tourism, Department of Culture and the Department of Archaeology of the Government of Kerala are not oblivious to the potential that may come from Jewish and Israeli tourists, and from the increasing globalized interest in minority groups. 

The beautiful Paradesi synagogue in Jew Town, Cochin, constructed in 1568, has been a well-known tourist site for years now, ever since Indira Gandhi attended its quarter-centenary celebrations in 1968. The Indian government issued a special commemorative stamp on the occasion. Today, sadly, there are exactly ten Paradesi Cochin Jews left in Jew Town in Cochin. Malabar Cochin Jews also lived in other settlements on the Malabar Coast before the vast majority of the community made aliya in 1954. They had seven synagogues in Mala, Parur, Chennamangalam, two in Ernakulam and two in Cochin on the same road as the more famous Paradesi synagogue. In 2005, the Kerala government agreed to undertake the renovation of the abandoned Cochin Jewish synagogue belonging to the Malabar Jews in the verdant village of Chennamangalam, though the Chennamangalam Jews now live in Israel. In February 2006, the Chennamangalam synagogue was re-opened with an exhibition on the Cochin Jews and the synagogue has become a popular tourist destination. Galia Hacco, a Malabar Jewess whogrew up in Chennamangalam said,"The Chennamangalam Synagogue Museum opening in 2006 gave me the courage, hope and joy that the restoration of other of Kerala’s synagogues may be possible during my lifetime and indeed, shaping the legacy of my community is my passion. Communicating this legacy in India to Indians is the purposeof this involvement." 

In April 2010, the state government decided to aid the Kerala government bodies and fund a new project to restore the next of Cochin Jews’ abandoned synagogue, the Parur synagogue. Marian Sofaer, project director of the Chennamangalam exhibition, says that the Parur synagogue remindsher of the Second Temple: "The Parur synagogue’s exquisite design, with its small-scale colonnaded walkways leading to the sanctuary, brings to mind some elements of the Second Temple depicted in the model at the Israel Museum. When did a Jewish community start to settle on the Malabar Coast, and was it early enough so that they had a collective memory ofthe Temple?" she muses. 

Jay Waronker, an American architect who has specialized in Indian Jewishsynagogue architecture, said,"The present synagogue was erected in the 17th century, but probably stands on anolder structure dating to the 12th century. "He further explained," As with other Cochin synagogues, the synagogue is made up of not one building but a collection of parts forming a distinct compound. Parur is notable for having the greatest number of connected and consecutive pieces which have survived fully intact, albeit rotting and crumbling. Unique to this synagogue is the way its parts are formally arranged and linked in a highly axial and ceremonial fashion. This same organization is also seen in some Hindu temples of Kerala and at later churches in the region.” 

Benny Kuriakose, the South Indian architect in charge of the reconstruction, has made every attempt to conserve the former structure and has gone to great pains to try and reconstruct features that were long ago gone. A case in point is the stairway that once was connected to the second entrance house of the synagogue, where the two square storerooms are located that are adjacent to the breezeway that led up to the women’s gallery, which disintegrated. He has turned to members of the community to help him to draw it as it once was in order to produce an authentic reconstruction. Another example is the entry door of the gatehouse, where the original ground floor had wooden slatted shutters on the outside windows, but today there are only broken rolling blinds covering the windows.

The reconstructed Heichal or Ark will once again be a work of art. The previous one was taken by the Israel Museum in a curious turn of events when it imported the Malabar Jewish Cochin Kadavambagum Synagogue in the 1990’s. It is on display in the newlyopened Israel Museum. 

Back in South India, the newly reconstructed Parur synagogue is almost complete. Today, visitors to Kerala can visit the Paradesi synagogue in Cochin, as well as the Chennamangalam synagogue. Soon the Parur synagogue will be added to the list of sites the Jewish tourist must see. Memories of ancient trade with the Middle East will be revived. One can only speculate whether the Jewish trader Ben Yiju, who has gained immortality in Amitav Ghosh’s novel, reached Kerala and whether he prayed in one of the Cochin synagogues.



Dr. Shalva Weil, a Hebrew University researcher, is a specialist on Indian Jewry. She is founding Chairperson (with Maestro Zubin Mehta as President) of the Israel- India Cultural Association. She co-curated the exhibition on Cochin Jews in the synagogue of Chendamangalam. ASIAN

< Table of Contents - Winter 2010/11



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May 1, 2010 23:13 IST

Surprise find at Pattanam digs

CENTURIES AGO: A wooden peg found at the excavation site at Pattanam, Kerala. Photo: Special Arrangement
The Hindu
CENTURIES AGO: A wooden peg found at the excavation site at Pattanam, Kerala. Photo: Special Arrangement

Archaeological excavators looking for remains of Muziris, an ancient port city of Pattanam in Kerala, found 18 wooden pegs that might throw light on the life and times of people who lived there several centuries ago.

The sharpened wooden pegs, ranging from 15 cm to 20 cm in length, were found at a depth of four metres, said P.J. Cherian, head of the Pattanam excavations that are conducted by the Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR).

“This was a surprise find as the excavation has almost reached the natural layer, that is where no human interventions are identifiable,” he said.

To determine the age of the pegs, the samples will be sent to science laboratories, including to that of Oxford University, for radiocarbon dating. On Friday, Kerala Forest Research Institute scientists examined the wood samples and botanical sediments.

Mr. Cherian said two excavation trenches produced evidence of formation of peat, a spongy layer of botanical remains deposited over a long period time. The peat formation could date back to about 25 centuries, he said.

The excavations in Pattanam, located at Vadakkekara panchayat in Ernakulam district, have attracted historians, and archaeologists, and research institutions are collaborating with the KCHR in its digs.



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For hundreds and even thousands of years there was a so called Muziris town mentioned over and over again in many letters, trade agreements and other documents.


But after the devastating floods of Periyar in 1341, people did not know its precise location.


All we knew was it was situated on the Periyar delta and it used to be one of the most important ports trading spices, diamonds, pearls and semi-precious stones at that time and thus connected to almost 32 countries in the world.

Muziris in Kerala was lost and fnally found after more than 6 centuries just recently when a few years ago a couple of ancient objects appeared. It all started in 1983 with some Roman coins found close to Pattanam village. However, it was not until 2006 and 2007 when the archaeologists started with the first excavations around the coast in this area.

Some historians agree, some disagree with the fact that Pattanam situated just 28 km North from Cochi was the original location of Muziris port.

However, the archaeological excavations prove that Pattanam was a Roman port operating already in the 10th century BC, that’s for sure. If it was THE port once called Muziris remains a mistery. No matter what, it is a place of high historic value.


Paravur Jewish Synagogue Muziris Kerala India (21)


We were lucky enough to take a 2-hour boat ride straight from the Brunton Boatyard hotel where I was staying to get around the ancient city which, like mentioned above, was once called Muziris.

Although when you mention Muziris name to many locals, they will not know what you are talking about. And the foreigners even less.


However, Muziris is an important place for Kerala, indeed. In the present there’s just a few things to look at but all of huge historical importance.


In the morning I was exhausted and it was a hard work trying to stay awake on the boat. Exploring Kerala has been pretty difficult because I did not have enough time to catch up with sleep. But the second half of the trip I was completely awake, was looking out of the window at all the fishing nets around the coast, small huts and some locals.

Then, the other half of our group on the second boat decided to have a sort of a party on the way so they were dancing and singing and sending us the videos on Whatsapp so I had to laugh. It was so cool and peaceful to observe their boat behind us with all the water birds around! We even managed to open a window on top to take photos and videos from their boat.


Once we reached Muziris, we all (especially us girls, as usual) ran to the closest bathroom which was just behind the corner in the Synagogue. Afterwards, we were taken around the white building of the Paravur Jewish Synagogue, which is one of the only existing 6 synagogues in Kerala nowadays. There used to be 12 of them but unfortunately half were destroyed. Maybe that is also the reason why the synagogue was declared a protected monument in 1996 and then restored in 2010 – 2012.

Mrs. Sukuntha, a very sweet tour guide, took us around and showed us some videos. The most interesting detail about the Synagogue to me was the wooden altar and all the wooden carvings which are taken a good care of although no Jews inhabit the area any more.

On top floor up to 100 people could fit in case of a flood so the history would not repeat itself. Back in time the area around the Synagogue was once flooded and all the things disappeared under water. Just a few years ago copper plates, pottery and parts of buildings were excavated close by. 2 out of 3 copper plates have been saved, unfortunately one was lost.

Did you know that women had a special outside door to climb up to the women’s gallery – a prayer room where men could not enter?


After the inside tour, I also took a quick barefoot walk around the two buildings and found not only a jack fruit tree, but a few old Jewish graves as well right behind the Synagogue.

The market close to which the Synagogue was constructed till operates twice a week nowadays.


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After a walk around the Synagogue and photos of the huge jackfruit a few metres from the entrance, it was time to put our flip flops on again and head off on the bus to the Paliam Kovilakam Palace where women were not allowed to enter back in days.

The most interesting things I found there were wooden doors inside the thick walls so the people could escape from torture.

I was also amazed by the very beautiful terracota ceiling on the top floor which was reconstructed according to the original. The Golden statue, objects used for elephants and many others are now exposed here. Our guide also showed us an agreement from the 18th century written on papyrus paper. For an unknown reason I felt a strong connection when strolling around the Palace. So peaceful!

The Palace was built in such a way it is not hot inside. How clever! White walls and brown wooden window shades were making the building look very stylish; simple elegance I’d say.


After the barefoot Palace visit and Kerala Kalaripayattu martial arts movie, I simply had to take a photo at one of the three funny old toilet floors outside of the Palace.


Then we hopped on the boats again to go to the Vedic Village hotel for spicy lunch.


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Paliam Kovilakam Palace Muziris Kerala India (39)


With full stomachs we took our boats again, this time to the Kottapuram fort ruins dating back to approx. 1550.

Part of the fort overlooking the sea was built in the 17th century during the Dutch domination. The back storage with a door was I took a photo was excavated first in May 2010 when the excavation started as part of the Muziris Heritage Project. Since then around 50,000 artifacts were found here which will form part of the Museum exhibition that is about to be opened in the area soon.

Up to 14 fort steps were excavated, and also 2 cadavers. One of them was now covered with blue plastic so we didn’t have a chance to see it. The cadaver is supposed to be of a Portuguese young man from around 1540. Wow, what a shame it was all covered! And the second one was not here any more. Would be very interesting to be able to have a look at such an old cadaver from so close, don’t you think?

 The Kottapuram fort was a protected area for many years which contributed to its conservation. The very first excavation was in 2007 but just one building was excavated at that time. The remaining ruins we can see now were excavated between 2010 and 2014.

 ”I loved the location overlooking the sea surrounded by palm trees. I can easily imagine living in the fort in such a pretty place centuries ago. If only it was less hot and humid here!” I told my friend when leaving.

 First, we hopped on our beautiful bus and very soon passed outside of the blue-walled Cheraman Juman Masjid Mosque which was the first mosque built in the area. The latest research says it was first constructed in the 10th century but unfortunately the mosque we see now is not the original building.

I will always remember the town which is full of one of my favorite trees – Banyan trees from focus family called after the Banyan tribe to which belonged also Mahatma Gandhi. The trees give even more of a special feeling to this ancient place.


Once we reached a narrow street, we had to take a few rickshaws to take us to the Pattanam archaeological office where we took seats on the floor to watch a short documentary about Muziris in Kerala. I learned that many European, African and Asian objects were found here 1 to 4 metres under the surface; such as popular objects, a mummified canoe, Tamil-Brahmi scripts, botanical material (they were exchanging medicinal plants in the past) and gold ornaments from Spain, Greece, France, Tunisia, Jordan, Turkey and Southern Italy. One of the most precious ones was the Fortuna Goddess carved in stone.


Muziris Pattanam excavation site (1)Muziris Pattanam excavation site (2)Muziris Pattanam excavation site (3)Muziris Pattanam excavation site (4)Muziris Pattanam excavation site (5)Muziris Pattanam excavation site (6)Muziris Pattanam excavation site (7)Muziris Pattanam excavation site (8)Muziris Pattanam excavation site (9)Muziris Pattanam excavation site (10)Muziris Pattanam excavation site (11)Muziris Pattanam excavation site (12)Muziris Pattanam excavation site (13)


Muziris Pattanam Kerala India (22)
After a hot tiring day we all moved to the Cherai Beach Resort where I shared a room with my sweet friend Mica from A really nice sunset greeted us at the beach, and then even a nicer dinner.

 Many people are not really into history. And I am neither. But when I was a kid, I wanted to be an archaeologist (not only a model, weird, right?) Maybe that’s why I found it beyond interesting to visit the place that most probably was once the famous ancient town of Muziris in Kerala.



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Fresh excavations at Pattanam after a gap of five years

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