Finds at excavation site support `Spice Route`

Vizhinjam was once the capital of Ay dynasty which ruled southern Kerala from 8th to 10th century.

Mumbai: Remains at an excavation site in
Kerala`s ancient port town of Vizhinjam have given further
push to the state`s bid to get UNESCO heritage status for the
`Spice Route` used for trade with the outside world centuries

For over 2,000 years, Kerala has been a key player in
Indian Ocean commerce and its trading partners have included
the Roman Empire, Arabian Gulf and Far East, their merchants
driven there by the ancient world`s love for spices,
especially pepper.

Vizhinjam is mentioned in medieval inscriptions. It
was once the capital of the Ay dynasty which ruled southern
Kerala from the 8th to 10th century AD. However, its history
prior to this period has always remained something of a
mystery. Now, an exciting new project is underway that is
slowly revealing its early past.

Ajit Kumar of Department of Archaeology, University of
Kerala, in collaboration with Robert Harding of the
Civilisations in Contact Project (funded by the Golden Web
Foundation), University of Cambridge, has commenced excavation
at Vizhinjam with a view to understand the town`s cultural
antiquity and chronology.

Two trenches have been laid and several interesting
pottery types recovered. While the majority is of local and
South Tamil Nadu origin, there are a number of distinct
foreign pottery types that are of significance, Kumar said.

A distinctive amphora base and a side section of an
amphora with bitumen coating have been found, along with two
smaller amphora shreds, he said.


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