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1.Dravida Peravai Youth Wing conference presided by N.J.Karthikeyan Youth Wing Secretary urged the Union Government to declare THIRUKURAL AS NATIONAL BOOK OF INDIA(31.3.1996)

2.Dravida Peravai campaigned to protect ARIKKAMEDU THE archaeological site near Pondicherry, the only site in peninsular India proven archaeologically datewise(3.8.96 Dinamalar, THE HINDU etc) Archaeology :


Pondicherry, Aug. 1, 1996. An appeal has been made to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) by the Dravida Peravai in Pondicherry to acquire the Arikamedu site and fence it so that the historically and archaeologically important finds here could be displayed for the benefit of scholars, tourists and researchers. A campaign to "Save Arikamedu" would be launched by the Peravai, according to its leader Mr.Nandhivarman. - Our Staff Reporter. THE HINDU.


Let me recall the article written by Mr.R.E.M.Wheeler, Mr.A.Ghosh and Mr.Krishna Deva titled Arikamedu: An Indo-Roman Trading Station on the East Coast of India Published in Ancient India Bulletin of the Archaeological Survey of India of July 1946. Fifty years have been swept away by the tides of time, but your department has failed to acquire the valuable site and properly fence the area to preserve the treasure trove of archaeological importance. As a result now the land mafias have set their eyes on the site. Let me quote few lines "Arikamedu, the special importance of which in South Indian archaeology has been stressed on P.1 of this number, represents the site of a considerable buried town on the Coramandel coast". "The special value of the site lies in the fact that in addition to being an Indian town and port, it was also a centre of trade with the Graeco-Roman world and the relics recovered from it include pottery and other objects of Indian culture is thus dated with precision, and thereby achieves the distinction of being the first ancient Indian culture to be dated archaeologically in the Indian peninsula". A buried town - a site where first ancient Indian culture is dated archaeologically and discovered 50 years back just has a warning board that it is a protected monument. Without acquiring the site, fencing it prioperly and creating a museum in the site to display the findings which will be of interest to tourists and archaeologists from world over, your department has neglected all these years. Now we are launching a Save Arikamedu campaign, and we urge your department to speed up the matter, before everything is lost by landgrab. - N.NANDHIVARMAN, GENERAL SECRETARY, DRAVIDA PERAVAI.


The excavations by Jouvean Dubreuil in 1937 at Arikkamedu revealed hitherto unknown facts about the grandeur of the Dravidian Civilisation. It is a matter of regret that his discoveries are now in the French School of Museum at Hanoi. The British Director General of Archaeology M.Wheeler excavated many things at Arikamedu which are lodged at the Archaeological Survey of India. Dravida Peravai with anguish points out that only fragments of the bulk of archaeological discoveries are at the Roman Rolland Museum, Pondicherry. Dravida Peravai urges the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development to bring back all the discoveries lodged at Hanoi and New Delhi to Pondicherry. The Romain Rolland Museum must be constructed at a new site for which necessary central financial aid should be forth coming. At the new museum steps must be taken to keep all the Arikamedu discoveries under one roof. "Poduke" the ancient port city (Pondicherry) received 120 vessels from Red Sea ports according to Strabo. Wheeler discovered the remnants of a factory owned by Romans belonging to the reign of Augustus. Textile exports especially muslin cloth from Arikamedu area stands archaeologically proven by the discovery of series of tanks or dyeing vats. Graeco-Roman gem cutters habituated that are and had left gems carved with intaglio design as proof. Chinese ports of the 10th and 11th centuries had trade links. "The special value of Arikamedu site lies in the fact that in addition to being an Indian town and port, it was also a centre of trade with the "Graeco-Roman world and the relics discovered from it include pottery and other objects of known origin and date from the much studied Mediterranean area. The associated Dravidian culture is thus dated with precision, and thereby archieves the distinction of the being the first ancient Indian culture to be dated archaeologically in the Indian Peninsula" say the Bulletin of Archaeological Survey of India dated July, 1946. Inspite of such early discovery, the usual neglect that goes with the erstwhile rulers towards Dravidian culture and civilisation is responsible for the failure of the Archaeological Survey of India to acquire the site, to fence it and to continue the excavation deeper. Harappa-Mohanjadero, the citadels of Dravidian Civilisation now remains confined in Pakistani territory, and the Arikamedu which remain within Indian territory faces continued neglect. Dravida Peravai urges your ministry to initiate suitable steps to acquire the area and seek UNESCO aid to preserve the archaeological treasure trove of Dravidian Civilisation. - N.NANDHIVARMAN, General Secretary, Dravida Peravai.


(Mr.P.Ravichandran from Muthialpet, Pondicherry having done M.Phil in Archaeology from Madras University, participated in the Arikamedu excavations conducted jointly by an American team headed by Dr.Vimala Begley and the University of Madras during the three seasons from 1989 to 1992. He has now returned to Pondicherry from Egypt where he was Trench Supervisor at excavations cibdycted at Abu Sha'ar' by an international team of archaeologists headed by Prof.Stevens Sidebothams of Delaware University, USA. His report citing evidences of Arikamedu's possible links with the Red Sea Ports is given below.) Excavations at Arikamedu, a little south of Pondicherry city have thrown up considerable evidences of Indo-Roman trade particularly from the ports of ancient THAMILAKAM . This trade was carried on for many centuries through the Red Sea Ports from where the goods were carried overland to the Mediterranean ports of the early Roman Empire. Besides luxury items, common trade goods of all types were carried from Arikamedu and many other partly investigated port sites from Southern India, through tge Egyptian Red Sea ports. These emporia were from north to south along the 800 k.m. long stretch of the Red Sea coast, ie Clysma-Qolzoum-Cleopatris (near modern Suez), Myos Hormos, Philoteras, Leukos Limen (Quseir al Qudium), Nechesia and Berenice. The goods which were transported from Arikamedu and other centers arrived in these parts and were then shipped to other Nile destinations and from thereto Alexandria for further transhipment to other Meditera- nian ports. Exports from Roman ports via Egypt to other Red Sea and Indian Ocean destinations took the same route in reverse. Three major overland routes connected the Red Sea ports with the emporia along the Nile including Apollonopolis Magna (Edfu), Coptos(Qift), Kainopolis and Tentyris(Denderah). The northern overland route started from Abu Sha'ar' (Myos Hormos?) the central route from Leukos Limen and the southern route from Berenice. Berenice, the largest and southern most Egyptian emporium required less effort to reach the Nile which is approximately only 260 k.m. away. The northern route from Abu Sha'ar' (Myos Hormos) included traffic from quarries at Mons Porphyrites and Mons Cloudianus, about 190k.m. away from the Nile. The shortest overland route was the central one from Leukos Limen approximately 175k.m. away. It passed through Fawakhir. Strabo speaks of 120 ships sailing for India from Myos Hormos on the Red Sea. I have had a chance to join in the excavations at Myos Hormos, directed by Prof. Steven E.Sidebotham of Delaware University, during the summers of 1991 and 1992. I took my flight to Egypt sgyrt my second excavation of Arikamedu in Pondicherry. The Myos Hormos site had been identified as a Red Sea Port by archaeologists earlier. Investigations in 1991 and 1992 however revealed that Myos Hormos was not merely a commercial port, but rather a late Roman/Byzantine 'fort' and therefore we named it as Abu Sha'ar'. The real Myos Hormos may have been probably some where else in the vicinity. However our investigations of this fort and its surroundings demonstrated that it was founded, used and apparently peacefully abandoned between the fourth and seventh century A.D. There is no evidence whatsoever of later Islamic occupation. One more season (1993) of excavation is planned there. We know that there was a revival of the Read Sea-Indian trade when the 'fort' came to be established at Abu Sha'ar'. The caravan tracks here are indirect evidences of this trade renaissance. The second overland route started from Leukos Limen port which was, of all the Roman Red Sea ports in Egypt, the closest to the Nile. There are eight fortified stations and 65 watch towes all along the route. Many of these stations contain wells or cisterns to supply potable water for the desert travellers, traders and their animals. These stations were constructed purely for security and halting purposes, and were built almost exclusively on stacked stones with mud bricks. The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago had excavated portions of Leukos Limen (a Red Sea emporium) in 1978, 1980 and 1982. Archaeological evidences both ceramic as well as numismatic, seem to indicate that this port must have been founded sometimes in the first century A.D. Several of the excavated spots of this port attested to the importance of its trade with the Tamil speaking people. Two fragments of pottery (graffiti) bearing Tamil Brahmi script were found in this digging. In addition, one ostrakon bearing a Prakrit inscription in black ink (size approximately 14cm. by 8cm. ) now in Cario Museum without any label, was recently identified. The two graffiti have been identified as fragments of proper names and dated, on epigraphical grounds to the first/second century A.D. This is precisely the period when Arikamedu flourished as an Indo-Roman trade emporium. The third southern overland route of the Red Sea Ports started from Berenice. Ptolemy(II) founded this port and named it after his mother. In fact, Strabo, Pliny the Elder and Nicanor Ostraca Archives suggest peak activity from the late first century B.C. to first century A.D. Similarly the 'Koan' and 'Rhodian' types of Roman amphorae found in Arikamedu, have been dated from the late first century B.C. to mid second century A.D. Although archaeological excavations have never beencarried out at Berenice, recent archaeological surveys confirm that Berenice was contemporary of Arikamedu. However, we have planned to dig this site in the summer of 1995. Moreover, a recently published papyrus (purchased in Egypt in 1980) records a business loan drawn up in Muziris, India. The text recounts the arrival of merchandise into a port (name lost), its conveyance by camel across the eastern desert to Coptos at Nile and its loading on to a Nile ship for Transport to Alexandria. The business contract recorded on the papyrus covers the period from its shipment from Muziris until the arrival of cargo at Alexendria, and mentions the specific type of merchandise, the quantity and value as well as the twenty-five percent tax rate levied by Roman customs officials. These archaeological and literary evidences from Egypt are not enough to corroborate the findings of Indo-Roman trade from Arikamedu through the Red Sea Ports. However, a more detailed study of Arikamedu and investigations at Muziris might yield more evidences on Indo-Roman trade through the Red Sea Ports. Excavations have been planned at Berenice, the fifth Red Sea Port of the Roman Red Sea realm in 1995. These excavations, it is hoped, will provide some more evidences for the direct trade and cultural relationship between Arikamedu and the Red Sea ports.