Pattanam Excavations 2007


The Pattanam excavations was the first ever multi- disciplinary excavation undertaken in Kerala State. The first part of the project was a surface survey for archaeological and historical evidence in the region. This was followed by extensive excavations at the early historic urban site of Pattanam. Pattanam is located in Chittatukara Panchayat -Vadakkekkara village, lying between Kodungallur and North Paravur in the Periyar Delta in Ernakulam district, Kerala. The main objective of the excavation was to search for archaeological evidence that would help to locate/identify an early historic urban settlement and the ancient Indo-Roman port of Muziris or Musiri on the Malabar Coast. The excavation was carried out from 18th February to 8th April 2007 in collaboration with A.S.I, State Department of Archaeology and Tourism and Revenue Department. Dr. P J. Cherian who was awarded license by the ASI was the Director and Dr. V. Selvakumar and Dr. K.P. Shajan the Co – Directors of the Pattanam Excavations.

The site at Pattanam covers approximately 1.5 sq. km and the core area measures about 600 x 400 m. The north-eastern part of the site was chosen for excavation based on the surface exploration undertaken earlier. Four Trenches (PT 07 I ,PT 07 II, PT 07 III, PT 07 IV) and one trial trench (PTT 07 I) covering an area of 125 sq. m. was systematically excavated. The "locus methodology" adopted for this excavation distinguished each layer/feature/pit/structure/ activity area on the basis of colour, texture and composition.

Many important finds were obtained like human bones, storage jars, a gold ornament, glass beads, stone beads, utilitarian objects made of stone, copper and iron, typical pottery, early Chera coins, brick wall, brick platform, ring well, wharf with bollards, and a six meter long wooden canoe parallel to the wharf structure about 2.5 m. below surface level. The structures indicate a vast ‘urban’ settlement. The excavations suggest that the site was first occupied by the indigenous “Megalithic” (Iron Age) people, followed by the Roman contact in the Early Historic Period. It appears that, the site was continuously occupied at least from the 2nd.century BC to the 10th century AD. The maritime contacts of this region during the Early Historic period seem to have been extensive as evidenced by the large number of Roman amphora sherds, a few terra sigillata sherds, Sassanian, Yemenite and other West Asian potteries. Proliferation of rouletted ware probably made in the Bengal-Gangetic region signifies the site's importance in the pan Indian context as well.

Experts from various disciplines such as geo- archaeology, archaeo-zoology, palaeo-botany, archaeo-chemistry and physics, underwater archaeology, metallurgy and institutions such as Southern Naval Command Kochi, ISRO Bangalore, Deccan College Pune, National Geo- physical Research Institute Hyderabad, Institute of Physics Bhubaneswar, MS University Baroda, NRLC Lucknow, Kerala Forest Research Institute Trissur and Centre for Earth Science Studies Thiruvananthapuram, extends technical support.