The lost port city Muziris in Kerala

Do you know about the first emporium of India? It was Muziris which was the 'first emporium of India' for the Romans, where ships of the Yavanas arrived in large numbers and took back pepper, and other products in exchange of gold.

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The name “Muziris” is said to be derived from the port’s native Dravidian name, “Muciri.” 

On the Malabar Coast, Muziris was both a historic harbour and a major urban hub. The contacts between South India and Persia, the Middle East, North Africa, and the Greek and Roman Mediterranean area were all facilitated by Muziris. Spices (including black pepper and malabathron), semi-precious stones (beryl), pearls, diamonds, sapphires, ivory, Chinese silk, Gangetic spikenard, and tortoise shells were among the notable exports from Muziris. Gold coins, thin garments, figured linens, multicoloured fabrics, antimony sulphide; copper, tin, lead, coral, raw glass, wine, and orpiment were all carried by the Roman navigators. 

Muziris vanished from antiquity’s maps, presumably as a result of a cataclysmic event in 1341, a “cyclone and floods” in the Periyar that altered the region’s geography. The identification of Pattanam as Muziris is a contentious issue among some South Indian historians. The Archaeological Survey of India conducted an excavation in 1969 at Cheraman Parambu, 2 kilometres north of Kodungallur. In the year 1983, Roman coins were found at a site around six miles from Pattanam. 

Archaeological research revealed that Pattanam was a Roman port with a long history of habitation dating back to the 10th century BC.

 Its trade with Rome peaked between the first and fourth centuries BC. The most remarkable discovery at the Pattanam excavations in 2007 was a brick structural wharf complex with nine bollards to harbour boats and, in the midst of this, a highly decayed canoe perfectly mummified in mud. 

The canoe was made of a tree native to the Malabar Coast that is used to make boats. Thousands of beads, sherds of Roman amphora, Chera-era coins made of copper alloys and lead, fragments of Roman glass pillar bowls, terra sigillata, remains of a long wooden boat and associated teak bollards, and a wharf made of fired brick are among the major discoveries from Pattanam.

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