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ASI urged to explore Pattanam

ASI urged to explore Pattanam

Today's Paper » NATIONAL

KOCHI, October 22, 2011

ASI urged to explore Pattanam

K.P.M. Basheer  

Outcome “not conclusive”

Suspecting a hidden agenda in the archaeological exploration at Pattanam by the Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR), a group of historians, writers and cultural activists has urged the Chief Minister to ask the Archaeological Survey of India to take over the digs.

A memorandum, signed by M.G. Sasibhooshan, N.M. Namboodiri, P.K. Gopi, Velayudhan Panikkassery and 18 others, also wanted the current KCHR reconstituted and the Muziris Heritage Project renamed as Kodungalloor Heritage Project and it be entrusted to qualified and committed scholars.

The memorandum signers contended that it had not yet been conclusively established that Pattanam was the ancient port of Muziris. But, the KCHR had gone around claiming that Pattanam was the ancient Muziris, the Roman trading centre on the Malabar Coast. KCHR's motive behind “imposing this on the public” was suspicious.

The signers noted that some of the recently published books had blindly referred to Pattanam as Muziris on the authority of the KCHR. This, according to the memorandum, questioned the credibility of the KCHR. It also alleged that “under the cover of discovering and preserving the heritage of Kodungalloor,' the Muziris Heritage Project was trying to prove that Kodungalloor was the colony of ancient maritime powers such as Rome.

‘Not conclusive'

P.K. Gopi, former registrar of the Centre for Heritage Studies, who headed the trial digging in Pattanam in 2004, told The Hindu that even after four years of excavation, the KCHR team could not conclusively prove that Pattanam was Muziris. With the limited material surfaced from the digging, the KCHR had jumped into a conclusion. A series of scientific studies, followed by peer reviews, should have been carried out before announcing the location of Muziris (a 2000-year-old port which is believed to have been located near Kodungalloor and which is said to have gone under sea following a huge flood in the Periyar in the 14th century), Mr. Gopi said. Claiming that an underground structure and a canoe found at Pattanam constituted the remains of the wharf at Muziris was inappropriate. Evidence that could stand rigorous scientific tests was necessary to make a conclusion about such an important ancient port as Muziris, he said. Satheesh Chandran, coordinator, Centre for Socio Cultural and Development Studies, one of the signers, told The Hindu that the KCHR team had approached the Pattanam digging with a pre-conditioned idea. He suspected the expertise of the digging team as the KCHR had no previous experience of archaeological excavation. It also not made use of the expertise of Kerala ancient history experts and also had not made marine archaeological research.

· Group of historians want revamp of KCHR

· ‘Rename project as Kodungalloor Heritage Project'

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