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Introducing the Muziris Papyrus

Posted by Maddy Labels:

I have deliberately been staying away from the topic of Muziris. There is such a lot out there for public consumption and there are many experts working on this subject. So with many contributors on a regular basis covering the history, geography & anthropology of that ancient port, I decided to instead work my way through other confusing chapters of Malabar history. Nevertheless, when a friend Nikhil asked me an interesting question, I dredged a bit into my treasure chest of Indian Ocean trade which has a large collection of books including the Goitein collection and the India book, to get to the appropriate answer.


The question was - Why did the people of the Chera kingdom import Olive oil from Rome? The gist of the answer I gave him was - that the presence of Amphorae actually signified the import of three liquids from broad studies of the ports in the West & East coastal ports, namely Olive oil, Wine and Garum. The consumption of fragrant Italian wine is something we see mentioned in ancient scripts like the ones from the Sangam era – e.g. Manimekhalai& Silapadhikaram. It was imported for local but possibly upper class consumption. It is also concluded that olive oil was never staple in South Indian diet and is an acquired taste which was never acquired into S Indian cooking to date. Garum is a smelly fish sauce predominantly found in ancient Roman cooking. Thus olive oil & Garum signify consumption by foreigners resident in Muziris and Kaveri Poompattanam. This as you can figure out implies the presence of Yavana colonies in these two locations.

So now having answered the question in a somewhat satisfactory fashion, I thought I would share a bit more of a complex discovery at Muziris and introduce you to a fascinating document called the Muziris Papyrus. Even though fairly recent (1985) in terms of discovery, it added a strong base to ancient international and trade laws in particular and has been studied at length by economists, lawyers as well as historians. The outcomes from the former is pretty dense, to say the least. But first let us start with a very quick summary on Muziris and the various discoveries over the last decade.

Muchiri pattanam, a location close to today’s Kodungallur, was not really a sea port as some believed. It was a city on the banks of the Periyar somewhat inland and accessed through the maze of canals. Roman Ships anchored out in the sea and transported their goods in small boats guided by local pilots through the canals to Pattanam. From centuries in the past until the 14th, the city was well known to the Arab and especially the Roman sailors who conducted trade with Malabar. Sometimes the ships went to Barygaza or Baruch, sometimes to Nelycinda (will be covered in a separate blog) other times, they landed up in Muziris. They came in with Western luxury goods and gold and took away spices and Eastern goods. Sometimes the ships went around the Cape Comorin and docked at Kaveri Poompattinam close to Pondicherry. The Romans had expatriate settlements or colonies in both places as I mentioned before and much information about them can be found in Sangam Era writings like the Silappadhikaram and Manimekhalai. The Peutinger table shows Muziris on the Roman map and even alludes to an Agustus temple (later studies assume it was an Agasthya temple) in Muziris. Writers like Ptolemy, Pliny and so on had written much about the trade, so also the Tamil poets. So let us conclude that robust trade took place, until the floods of the Periyar wherein the riverbed got silted in the 13th Century. Since that event and due to other issues at the Roman and Arab areas, the trade petered off and veered off to other places like the Cochin and Calicut. But by then the Arab traders had a stronghold on the route and they staved off any competition until the next aggressive bunch – the Portuguese came in – followed by the Dutch and finally the English who eventually settled down and colonized the lands they came to trade with. But we will not talk about all the events that took place in the process, we will instead focus on the Muziris papyrus, something that you do not see often mentioned in mainstream media. And so we go to the rather active Roman Colony or river port called Pattanam well before the advent of Christ. But then you have to say ‘hello’ to Rajappan.

Rajappan. I do not know him, nor does anybody else I know. I do know however that he consented to have his land in the Paravur area dug up. And when that happened, around his house Krishna Nivas, they unearthed confirmation and sufficient archeological information finally enabling the announcement by Dr Shajan of the rediscovery of Muziris at Pattanam. There are still plenty of places to dig, but Kerala as you may know is densely populated, so the idea of relocating people for the purpose of archeology needs real hard sell and lots of monetary infusions. And so, thus far only about two hectares have been dug up.

More details can be found on this attached article and this.

When the trade with Muziris started is not known, however a document discovered recently, the Muziris Papyrus in 1985, takes us back to the 2nd century, by which time it seems to have been well established. During the Ptolemaic Roman period (third century B.C. to sixth century A.D), Berenike for example served as a key transit port between ancient Egypt and Rome on one side and the Red Sea-Indian Ocean regions on the other. Exotic goods from Rome and Egypt flowed into Berenike along the same desert road before being loaded into large ships bound for the Indian Ocean as I have explained in the past. According to most accounts, one of the major centers in India that ships from Berenike travelled to, along with the monsoon winds, was the emporium of Muziris, on the Malabar Coast. The presence of much teak in the finds at the red sea coasts also suggested that many of the ships were built in India, one of the indications of a major Indian role in the trade. But Dr. Casson, a specialist in ancient maritime history, says it was also possible that the teak timber was shipped to Berenike and turned into vessels there. Written records refer to ships in the India trade being among the largest of the time. That means, Dr. Casson says, that they could have been as long as 180 feet and capable of carrying upto 1,000 tons of cargo. Such ships had stout hulls and caught the wind with a huge square sail on a stubby mainmast.


The Roman ships with their square sail was not quite appropriate for sea travel with the winds, but it is more likely that the ships used were of Arabic Indian design as concluded by scholars. Even though the Muziris area was infested by pirates according to Pliny, and the need for transshipment to smaller boats, it figures to have recived more prominence than other like Nelcynda. One major spice the Romans sought via Muziris was Gangetic nard, spikenard or Jatamansi, after the popular Pepper. What the people in Malabar & Tamil regions needed was ( after the wine) the gold, which they never used as currency (the coins were mostly partly split making them non legal tender in S India) but possibly melted the coins and made ornaments.

What then brings us back to the Muziris papyrus ( also known as the Vienna Papyrus as it is kept in Vienna) ? It is the mention of a loan agreement made in Muziris. Now did Muziris therefore have a Roman settlement? Evidence points to that in two ways, one by a statement in the Periplus “enough grain for those concerned with shipping, because merchants do not have use for it’. The merchants are thus rice eaters, the Indians. Those concerned with shipping are the Yavana trader’s resident at Muziris. To this, one must also connect up the evidence of wine, olive oil and garum jars found at Arikumedu which date to the 3rd Century AD.

Of inestimable value for a study of the organization of trade are the Muziris papyrus and the archives of Nicanor. The Nicanor archives provide detailed information on the taxes levied on a variety of items transported along the desert roads from Myos Hormos and Berenice to Egypt. The papyrus confirms the distinction between those engaged in travel to the orient and local merchants.

The creditor lived in Alexandria in the 2nd century, the papyrus was sold by a collector in Egypt in 1980, and the loan agreement was drawn in Muziris and the papyrus is now housed in a Museum in Vienna. Two merchants documented their contract in the said document, listing the items, the costs and the people who owe and are owed money. Customs duties are listed, so also all the links in the chain such as the camel driver and how much he should be paid. I t mentions many people, signifying that this was not a financiers copy but by the trader himself. Interestingly the creditor had the first right of purchase which may possibly have been the first intention. The text also estimate steh value of the goods after a 25% tax has been deducted, but this amount itself is staggering, one shipload worth some 7 million Drachmas or sestertia (A solider was paid 100 drachmas maximum a month or around 800 per annum). The tax due at Alexandria was paid as goods, so the state itself did not get the money immediately. Possibly the trader had only to pass on a credit of the 25% tetarte (tax) and not the goods itself as moving the sates portion of the goods across the Coptos desert was not the traders responsibility. Considering the immense value it was carefully tracked from point to point. The Nard, the cloth and the ivory were the most valuable items in the holds. Camels and donkey owners handling these valuable items minted money from this trade billing the Roman government and were possibly escorted by military compared to the usual caravans. Towns along the Coptos desert charged tolls, and it is seen that the toll was dependent on the financial strength of the payer, thus variable.

No considering that Strabo talked of an average 120 ships going to Muziris every year, and multiplying the figure of 7million drachmas with the ships, you can imagine how much money flowed into Muziris and Malabar. This was how much goods of luxury were worth in those times. The question of if individuals had these kinds of fortunes or if a group worked together is not clear. However it is clear that the cost of failure meant death, so big were the amounts. Imagine a ship wreck or piracy, not thoughts meant for the faint hearted as eminent writer Sidebottom mentions in his book.

The first and second pages of this contract letter are lost so we are unable to know the name of the merchants who were engaged in business and the exact transactions at Muziris. In 1985 H. Harrauer and P. Sijpesteijn published the contents of this papyrus

It reads as follows (for complete paper check this link)

... of your other agents and managers. And I will weigh and give to your cameleer another twenty talents for loading up for the road inland to Koptos, and I will convey [sc. the goods] inland through the desert under guard and under security to the public warehouse for receiving revenues at Koptos, and I will place [them] under your ownership and seal, or of your agents or whoever of them is present, until loading [them] aboard at the river, and I will load [them] aboard at the required time on the river on a boat that is sound, and I will convey [them] downstream to the warehouse that receives the duty of one-fourth at Alexandria and I will similarly place [them] under your ownership and seal or of your agents, assuming all expenditures for the future from now to the payment of one-fourth-the charges for the conveyance through the desert and the charges of the boatmen and for my part of the other expenses.

With regard to there being- if, on the occurrence of the date for repayment specified in the loan agreements at Muziris, I do not then rightfully pay off the aforementioned loan in my name-there then being to you or your agents or managers the choice and full power, at your discretion, to carry out an execution without due notification or summons, you will possess and own the aforementioned security and pay the duty of one-fourth, and the remaining three-fourths you will transfer to where you wish and sell, re-hypothecate, cede to another party, as you may wish, and you will take measures for the items pledged as security in whatever way you wish, sell them for your own account at the then prevailing market price, and deduct and include in the reckoning whatever expenses occur on account of the aforementioned loan, with complete faith for such expenditures being extended to you and your agents or managers and there being no legal action against us [in this regard] in any way. With respect to [your] investment, any shortfall or overage [se. as a result of the disposal of the security] is for my account, the debtor and mortgager...

According to the Historian Thur, the contract between ego and tu was drawn up in Alexandria in two separate documents; one that spelled out the maritime loan and another that spelled out the security involved what the papyrus contains is a portion of the latter, the document that dealt with the security.

As Casson concludes - One of the great contributions of the papyrus is the concrete evidence it furnishes of the huge amounts of money that the trade with India required. The six parcels of the shipment recorded on the verso had a value of just short of 1155 talents almost as much as it cost to build the aqueduct at Alexandria The parcel of ivory and the parcel of fabric together weighed 92 talents and were worth 528,775 drachmas. A Roman merchantman of just ordinary size had a capacity of 340 tons; it was capable of carrying over 11,000 talents of such merchandise. And the weather conditions on the route to India were such as to require the use of vessels of at least this size. Loaded with cargoes of the likes of that recorded in this papyrus, they were veritable treasure ships.

With the listed part of that ships goods (only a part load) pegged at 131 talents, one could buy 2500 acres of finest farmland in Egypt and if there were 150 such ships every year, what would have that trade been worth? Immense, to say the least. The historian Pliny, who died in 79 A.D., has left us a contemporary account of these early voyages. "It will not be amiss," he says in his Natural History, "to set forth the whole of the route from Egypt, which has been stated to us of late, upon information on which reliance may be placed and is here published for the first time. The subject is one well worthy of our notice, seeing that in no year does India drain our empire of less than five hundred and fifty millions of sesterces [many many million dollars], giving back her own wares in exchange, which are sold among us at fully one hundred times their cost price.

Strangely the Malayali’s acquired taste of fancy Italian wine seems to have been eroded from the genetic code, to be replaced by the stuff from Scotland.

Note: this is only a brief introduction. I have deliberately not got into the depths of the analysis of the complex subject of trade for fear that this would then turn out into a long & boring paper.

References
New Light on Maritime Loans: P. Vindob G 40822 – L casson
Ships and the development of maritime technology on the Indian Ocean- Ruth Barnes, David Parkin
Periplus Maris Erythraei
The Natural history of Pliny
Rome's eastern trade: international commerce and imperial policy, 31 BC-AD 305 -Gary Keith Young
The monetary systems of the Greeks and Romans -William Vernon Harris
The Red Land: The Illustrated Archaeology of Egypt's Eastern Desert - Steven E. Sidebotham, Martin Hense, Hendrikje M. Nouwens
At empire's edge: exploring Rome's Egyptian frontier - By Robert B. Jackson



Pic courtesy - Trade map pic – Archeology news

43 comments:

  1. Nabeel

    Nice one Maddy.
    Did Muziris have Roman settlements? I think this has been discussed quite well here - Indian Shipping - A History of the Sea-Borne Trade and Maritime Activity of the Indians from the Earliest Times

    Was the shipping route from Yemen to India in those centuries directly across the ocean or coasting along the land? Is there a definite answer for that?

  1. Maddy

    Thanks Nabeel - While there are no definite answers about Roman settlements in Muziris (as YET), there are indirect indications as I explained in para 8. The Mukherji book is a great source in general, but dated much before these new discoveries & theories.

    Yes, there are reasonably good indications about these sea routes. The earliest routes were coast hugging, whereas the ones post monsoon sailing (I am not convinced that they did not exist before Hippalus - he was a conduit for the Romans, but we can see some allusions that there were good sea faring & sailing techniques possibly even before him) are directly across. To get to the exact answer, you should check out the ship development, masts, keels and so on, well explained by Casson and some others.

    Aden trade rose to heights somewhat after Bernike and the Romans.

  1. Nikhil Narayanan

    Thanks, Maddy.
    I am waiting for *that* one finding to confirm the existence of Roman settlements in Muziris so that the Olive Oil theory is validated.
    How I wish I could just go back in time.
    -Nikhil

  1. Calicut Hertitage Forum

    As usual, a scholarly introduction to the unfolding Muziris story. There is a doubt - who were these Romans? Could they have been the Venetian and Genoese traders in Egypt and Asia Minor? Read with your earlier story of a Kannada play having been staged in Cairo, the picture is one of unbridled globalisation! When did we develop xenophobia? Is it a fallout of the Swadeshi movement??

  1. Maddy

    Thanks CHF - This question merits an article by itself. However a quick answer is as follows. It is not to say that the Romans were the first, the Greeks were the original Ionian Yavanas. The Roman network extended from Pozzuoli near Naples through Alexandria, Bernike and into Muziris. It was primarily state sponsored, but still comprising wealthy individuals, and supported by the Roman military at the camel caravan routes. This was all to change again later. Note that until Augustus, coasting over the coastline was more prevalent than sailing the monsoon and during the time of Augustus and thereafter, the monsoon sailing became popular. It also appears that the 16 Western Indian ports mentioned by Ptolemy were provided some form of Roman imperial protection! Chinese sources say the traders were prosperous, well funded & trustworthy, but about locale of origin, I am not sure, mainly from Naples.

  1. Maddy

    regarding the second part of the question CHF - well, history post Portuguese taught us simple people that the trust can be severely misplaced...I suppose

  1. FĂ«anor

    Hiya. Interesting post, with some cosmic synchronicity, as only recently I read the following comment in Burjor Avari's book, India: A History of the Indian Sub-continent from C. 7000 BC to AD 1200: "Another interesting piece of recent research concerns the role of the Indian venture capitalist in the financing of the Indo-Roman trade. Until recently, it was widely assumed that the 'initiative of this long-distance sea-borne trade with west was taken by western traders, while the role of India, steeped in agriculture, was only that of the grower of some luxury and prestige commodities.' This view needs to be revised in the light, firstly, of a recently discovered papyrus document detailing a loan contract between an Indian and a Roman, and, secondly, of the excavations in Egypt pointing to the presence there of Indian settlers and traders."

  1. P.N. Subramanian

    I was all along thinking that may be the papyrus was found in Rajappan's backyard. Very interesting and exhaustive post. Thanks for this scholarly post.

  1. Maddy

    Thanks Feanor - Casson’s study and Peter Temin’s as well as the fact that this was a Roman contract based on Roman Law indicates that this was existent between Roman traders & finaciers. The fact that a third party in Muziris is mentioned suggests a long time resident there and thus the existence of a Roman settlement in Muziris. But it could be so that the Roman agent in Muziris was backed by an Indian. I am not sure if this is what Burjor Avari meant. Maybe I will ask him.

    a follow up post on Indians in Egypt is in the works, will post soon.

  1. Maddy

    Thanks PNS – Papyri are pretty sensitive to weather and fungi and the slightest amount of humidity will destroy it. So it is unlikely that any would be found underground in Kerala even if contained. All papyri found so far were from locales situated in the arid-dry desert areas of Egypt & Arabia. But then I am sure Rajappan’s and other yards would turn up more valuable stuff…There are also rumors of gold coins found often but never reported and sold off or melted .

  1. Brahmanyan

    As one interested in the Kingdom of Cheras I congratulate you for your effort in bringing out well documented History of Kodungallur (Muziris). Please keep writing. Blessings from a Septuagenarian.

  1. Maddy

    Thanks Brahmanyan..
    there would be more in the coming days..pls visit often..
    rgds

  1. demonwatcher

    Just stumbled on to this site. Im a layperson, no particular historical knowledge, but your articles are extremely well written and presented. Keep it up please - I feel that we Malayalis know very little of our own history.

  1. Murali RamaVarma

    A very informative post, Maddy. I hope the ongoing excavations at Pattanam will bring out more and more valuable information on our ancient trade routes. I also wish that a good museum comes up there displaying the artifacts and copies of the Muziris Papyrus with suitable explanations.

  1. Maddy

    thanks demonwatcher - keep visiting, you will get regular updates!!

  1. Maddy

    Thanks Murali..
    i think they have set up a museum for the Muziris heritage project and a website as well.. will give links later

  1. Vinod

    This is a good article but I would like to point out certain facts.
    One is about Pattanam being a river port. The lowest layer of the present excavations consists of beach sand. Then Muziris lost its prominence not due to the silting of river bed per se, but due to drastic course change of two rivers-Periyar and Chalakudy Puzha. These two rivers had changed courses at least few times during the last few millenniums. It needs separate article but just want to say that the hinder land is a maze of palio channels of these two rivers.
    Then the Pattanam as such, the true size of the area where artefacts had been dug out by locals measures about 0.75 sq.km. What was the size of Rome/other Mediterranean rim cities on those days?
    But whatever dug out so far indicates a settlement pattern alien to the documented local pattern. One of the trial pit was digging in to a rubbish heap of potter! The profusion of beads in certain locations may indicate industries as well. But the flooring of buildings, the urn based sanitation (?)and size of the bricks has similarities with Indus settlements of the sub-continent.
    The Pattanam area had undergone very large changes of land form during the last 200 years. Few meters of sand had been removed, new drainage canals added, ponds filled up, at least one temple fully dismantled and used to fill up a pond. It is really difficult to reconstruct the past from Pattanam alone.
    Then about the mysterious Rajappan- he was an astrologer and resident of Krishnanivas near GLPS Pattanam. When excavations were made to build his son's house in 2004 artefacts were found there.
    The initiative in Pattanam started with Dr: Shajan visiting our place followed up by an accidental meeting in a train in 1996. We had collected pot shards dug out by various people when they did some interventions like building basement, pit etc. during 96-97.
    In 1997, 2001 and 2002 trial pits were done by Dr: Shajan using his own resources. The authentication of pottery was done by Dr: Roberta from England during a visit in 2003. Then after the KCHR came to the scene. Full credit goes to Dr: Shajan for singlehandedly pursuing this work during the difficult initial years.
    But my concern in the whole episode is from a different angle, how and when the end came for the present settlement? what kind of weather or elements like tsunamis might have created such large changes in river courses or silting of an entire area by few meters with in a short span of time? (A trial pit consists of a place where various pots were cleaned and put upside down like in a typical kitchen – ready to be used in the next morning!)
    Where is the evidence of other settlements, agriculture and administrative/religious apparatus to support Pattanam's trade?

  1. Vinod

    This is a good article but I would like to point out certain facts.
    One is about Pattanam being a river port. The lowest layer of the present excavations consists of beach sand. Then Muziris lost its prominence not due to the silting of river bed per se, but due to drastic course change of two rivers-Periyar and Chalakudy Puzha. These two rivers had changed courses at least few times during the last few millenniums. It needs separate article but just want to say that the hinder land is a maze of palio channels of these two rivers.
    Then the Pattanam as such, the true size of the area where artefacts had been dug out by locals measures about 0.75 sq.km. What was the size of Rome/other Mediterranean rim cities on those days?
    But whatever dug out so far indicates a settlement pattern alien to the documented local pattern. One of the trial pit was digging in to a rubbish heap of potter! The profusion of beads in certain locations may indicate industries as well. But the flooring of buildings, the urn based sanitation (?)and size of the bricks has similarities with Indus settlements of the sub-continent.
    Then about the mysterious Rajappan- he was an astrologer and resident of Krishnanivas near GLPS Pattanam. When excavations were made to build his son's house in 2004 artefacts were found there.
    The initiative in Pattanam started with Dr: Shajan visiting our place followed up by an accidental meeting in a train in 1996. We had collected pot shards dug out by various people when they did some interventions like building basement, pit etc. during 96-97.
    In 1997, 2001 and 2002 trial pits were done by Dr: Shajan using his own resources. The authentication of pottery was done by Dr: Roberta from England during a visit in 2003. Then after the KCHR came to the scene. Full credit goes to Dr: Shajan for singlehandedly pursuing this work during the difficult initial years.

  1. Maddy

    Thanks Vinod for the detailed and illuminating comment.

    Let me get to this in more detail, and forgive me if I take a while before getting to it..for you have raised many fascinating avenues of thought!!

  1. suresh pillai

    Excellent Blog. You may also link this to other sites such as Arikamedu or Poducke

  1. Maddy

    thanks suresh..
    i will do that soon

  1. historicus

    Thanks Maddy for taking the Muziris discussion to a vaster audience and for providing an intelligent but short discussion on the Vienna Papyrus. We had discussed some of these matters for the past few decades at Seminars at LRC Ernakulam, Trichur, Chennnai, New York, Shillong, Goa, Patna and elsewhere.The first article I myself had published on the topic was by Maggy G. Menachery, "ROADS TO INDIA" in the Thomas Encyclopaedia (1973). Then in a book "Kodungallur", 1987 I had collected a large quantity of historical data on Mziris. This book was reprinted in 2000. The portion on Muziris was publised on www.indianchristianity.com in 1998 and ever since it has attracted much crrespondence from many - TV Channels from abroad, archaeologists, historians, ocean-study experts - and I could listen to many scholars from the world over keenly discussing these matters at many international seminars. My own attempt to chart a sailing ship from Mukkallah in Oman failed but later I was happy to observe the success of the Jewel of Oman from Oman to Singapore and I was overwhelmed with joy when I could compare notes on my book knowledge with the captain of the Jewel of Oman at Cochin especially when I discovred that what the Greek, Roman authors had said in the 1st century BCE/CE still holds good. May I request yo to kindly read the chapter on the net and tell me the loopholes there as I am preparing a reprint. Sorry for being a little boring as one is bound to be when discussing something one is obsessed with.

  1. Maddy

    very nice hearing from you, historicus. I will get back top you after a detailed perusal of your writing.

  1. babu

    why so haste in declaring Pattanam as Muziris? when was the kodungallore port called Musiris? whatever shajahan discovered were also discovered at Karur earlier. It is not considered as Musiris. Pliny mentions Karuvare in addition to Musiris. so they are different. But the musiris mentioned by pliny lies somewhere else. James hogue says it is between Goa and Telluichery and Nelcyindis is Nileswaram. One should prove that it is not so before digging some where if the interest is to prove that it is Musiriz. sangam writings mentions vanji and periyar. but all big rivers are periyars.more over the vanji at kodungallore was established in the second century. so it cannot be the Musiris Hippalus mentioned.

  1. babu

    The Muziris located by Hippalus appears to be different from what shajahan discovered. Muziris mentioned by pliny is some where between Goa and Tellichery ( James Hogue). The periyar refered in sangam writings is only a big river in Chera Kingdom.then vanji.The first chera dynasty established its capital vanji, but near Karur. sangam writings belong to second second century. hence the Muziris located by Hippalus centuryin 50a.d. is a different port.Muziris is anaglisised name for musiri( muchiri) , the name based on the form of the silted river.river silted and changed its course in 1341 a.d. It appears some one wanted to call the port Muziris with specific agenda. Bishop caldwell( 19thcentury)is seen interested to call the port Musiriz for his purpose.

  1. babu

    The Muziris located by Hippalus appears to be different from what shajahan discovered. Muziris mentioned by pliny is some where between Goa and Tellichery ( James Hogue). The periyar refered in sangam writings is only a big river in Chera Kingdom.then vanji.The first chera dynasty established its capital vanji, but near Karur. sangam writings belong to second second century. hence the Muziris located by Hippalus in 50a.d. is a different port.Muziris is anaglisised name for musiri( muchiri) , the name based on the form of the silted river.river silted and changed its course in 1341 a.d. It appears some one wanted to call the port Muziris with specific agenda. Bishop caldwell( 19thcentury)is seen interested to call the port Musiriz for his purpose.

  1. Maddy

    Thanks babu..

    I will get back to this subject soon..
    rgds

  1. babu

    have not heard so far.awiting your comments.
    babu

  1. Susan Visvanathan

    Hello Maddy! Lovely skimming through your work, will sit down and read it in detail. Can't you find a publisher so that others who are not able to read on the net, enjoy your very lovely essays?

  1. Maddy

    thanks susan..
    am still trying to find one..
    history has less takers..

  1. Jee Francis Therattil

    http://www.scribd.com/jeefrancis/d/77750594-Kerala-The-Egyptian-Connection

  1. Sunita Mohan

    Loved this very detailed post so much that I've added a link to it in my post about the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (http://chai-n-spice.blogspot.in/2013/02/kochi-muziris-biennale-art-of-new.html ).

  1. Maddy

    Thanks Sunitha..
    glad to see you all preserving the heritage and appreciating it!!

  1. K R A Narasiah

    I have been going through the entire document copy of teh Vienna Paprys as published by L Casson, and I must thank you, for, it is through your posting I got to teh document. Since I am presenting on 6th July 2013 a paper on Periplus of teh Erythraean Sea, and as sailor of past, I understand the contents and your comments with more sensitivity. once again thank you.
    Narasiah

  1. Maddy

    thanks Mr narsiah..
    glad you found it useful..
    hope you have a sucessful presentation
    rgds

  1. A G Maxwell

    My interest in Musiri/Muchiri/Muziris is rather philological. I do not believe that this place existed anytime in what was thought to be Chera kingdom any more than I consider Tashkent to be found in Kerala for the only reason that a Keralite barber had chosen to call his saloon 'Tashkent'. The name with many variations could be associated with Moosa (of Egypt, Cyptos, Msri Arabic for Egyptian), the Egyptian goddess 'Isis', or Iris, or 'murra' out of which vases were made, and 'mus, muris' which means 'rat' in Latin. There has been trade no doubt coastal as well as on land between and among what was thought to be 'Indus' with Sheba's and Solomon's regions, Alexandria and thence to Roman Empire. It would be stretching a bit too far to suggest that there was any direct trade with Rome or within what was considered to be 'Indus' any Roman/Greek settlement.
    Similar shards of pottery, amphorae, coins unearthed in Pattanam may be encountered if excavations are undertaken elsewhere in Gujerat, Sindh, Sohar, Yemen, Socotra et alia. There is also a theory that Budhist monks and their followers from Pataliputra,(Patna/Pattanam)had trekked their way to Pattanam.

  1. Maddy

    Thanks Maxwell.
    Why not...In these kinds of discussion, nothing can be that clear, and there is always some amount of doubt. Check this out - here I tried to discuss the topic further. http://historicalleys.blogspot.com/2011/06/on-location-of-muziris.html .

  1. historicus

    This is a whole paper I am posting. Use your sissors. But what is to the point pl. let me have your valuable comments.

  1. historicus

    Paper presented by Prof. George Menachery (kunjethy@gmail.com 00919846033713) at the Muziris Seminar, Christ College, Irinjalakuda, Sept. 2013: The Maritime Importance of Muziris as Described by Roman Historians and Poets, and other writers. in the First Centuries BCE/CE as Inspiration for Undertaking a Modern Day Muziris - Red Sea Sail Ship Voyage.
    Prologue:
    Allow me to put my last things first by bringing to the attention of the learned scholars present an item from the Hindu dated January 21, 2012 which more or less summarises what I want to say here.
    ________________________________________
    ***********************************************************
    Re-enact Muziris voyages, KHA tells Navy
    K.A. MARTIN & S. ANANDAN
    Defence Ministry told to take the lead in rebuilding such a vessel at Beypore
    The Kerala History Association (KHA) headed by jurist V.R. Krishna Iyer has urged the Indian Navy to join hands with the Departments of Cultural Affairs and Tourism to re-enact the voyages of ancient trade vessels from the ancient port of Muziris to the Red Sea around 2000 years ago.
    In a key resolution, passed early this month, the association asked the Union Defence Ministry to take the lead in rebuilding such a cargo vessel at Beypore, a historical boatbuilding hub in northern Kerala renowned for its esoteric technology adept at building ‘urus' [cargo sail yachts] using locally available timber and coir.
    The association felt that recreating a cargo vessel that plied the seas from Muziris to link ports in the Red Sea on the Egyptian and the Yemeni coasts would highlight the strong historical links between the two important regions of the world besides bringing to the world's attention their cultural exchanges.
    Historian K.N. Panikkar endorsed the idea when he told The Hindu on Friday that it would be good if the Navy undertook such a mission.
    He recalled that such efforts had been made in other parts of the world, including in the recreation of journeys along the old Silk Route.
    It must have taken 40 days to reach Muziris from Egypt by sea in the olden times, said George Menacherry, a historian, who piloted the resolution at the association's meeting.
    He, however, added that the ‘Jewel of Muscat,' a replica of the late first-millennium trading vessel that sailed around the world jointly created by the Sultanate of Oman and the Government of Singapore, had shown that the journey would take just 27 days now.

  1. D.O'Donovan.

    I would expect that olive oil would come relatively cheap, offsetting the cost of India' luxury goods and acting as ballast. In addition to the labour-saving of having ready-bottled oil, it could serve as basis for medicine, oil for lamps, hair oil, and perhaps in some cases even a base for perfume. When oil-based soaps were developed I could not say, but they are not difficult to make. It might also be a bit of a status symbol, and surely cheaper than Egypt's ben oil.

  1. Maddy

    Thanks D.O' Donovan..
    Your comment makes some sense, but the lay Malayali never went beyond Coconut oil and ghee in those days when it comes to food and other needs. Perhaps it was sent off to other places like the Tamilagam and Vijayanagara...

  1. Ekta Gupta

    Dear Sir,
    I am doing research on cartography and old maps. I found the map you used in this article very interesting. Could you provide me the source of that map from where you acquired it. Your help will be highly appreciated.

    Thanks and regards,
    Ekta
    email ID: ekta.geo@gmail.com

  1. Maddy

    thanks ekta
    the augustus temple map comes from wikimedia commons
    https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:TabulaPeutingerianaIndo-Scythia.jpg
    the second map is from here
    https://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.com/2010/04/south-indians-in-roman-egypt.html#52S5yXC8qBFzXOiS.97
    hope this helps
    rgds