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Copper coins of Adi Chera period excavated

By K. S. Sudhi

KOCHI, APRIL 29. Archaeologists of the Centre for Heritage Studies, Thripunithura, have excavated copper coins belonging to the Adi Chera (Sangam) period from Pattanam, near North Paravur. This is believed to be the first time that copper coins of the Adi Chera period have been unearthed in the State.

Students of the Centre were conducting trial excavations in the area when the coins were excavated. The coins were found at a depth of 1 metre. Nearly 100 beads were also excavated from Pattanam.

The find attains significance as the archaeologists had earlier excavated fragments of Roman amphora, Rouletted wares and beads of semi-precious stones and glass from the area, indicating that the ancient port town of Muziris could have been somewhere near the area. This theory refutes the popular belief that Muziris was located near Kodungalloor. Earlier excavations had yielded parts of brick structures, said the registrar of the Centre, P. K. Gopi, and the archaeologist, V. Selvakumar.

Though six coins were excavated, the archaeologists have cleaned only one coin and the others would be cleaned in due course, Mr. Gopi said. The coin, which is almost a square in shape, has an elephant facing to the right and some symbols towards the top of the coin. The symbols could not be identified as the upper part of the coin was partially corroded.

A drawn bow and arrow was visible on the other side. Below the arrow is an elephant goad (a prod used to control elephants). These coins bear a striking resemblance to the ones excavated from Karur in Tamil Nadu, said the archaeologists.

Confirming the archaeological relevance of the copper coins excavated, the noted historian and former Chairman of the Indian Council for Historical Research, M.G.S. Narayanan, said that it was for the first time that the coins of the Adi Chera period was excavated from Kerala. Till now, the historical connection of the State (especially Muziris), with the Adi Chera empire was limited to the references in Greek and Tamil literature and inscriptions. The coins are the first archaeological evidence that proves the historical connection, Mr. Narayanan said.

Historians and archaeological studies have confirmed that there were two headquarters of the Adi Chera Kings_Karur and Muziris.

At least half-a-dozen songs are there in Tamil about Muziris. Muziris was also mentioned in literature as a place at the mouth of the Periyar from where Roman ships, loaded with gold, anchored for buying pepper, Mr. Narayanan said. Mr. Narayanan opined that the name Pattanam could be the abbreviated form of Muziripattanam.

Mr. Narayanan who visited the site of the excavation the other day suggested that extensive excavations be done in the area.

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