PATTANAM, India, Aug 21, 2006 (AFP) – Pottery shards, beads, Roman copper coins and ancient wine bottles litter the strata beneath this small seaside village in India’s southern Kerala state. The 250 families, mostly agricultural labourers, who live in Pattanam, 260 kilometers (161 miles) north of Kerala’s capital Thiruvananthapuram, find the objects pretty, but would rather dig up the ground and build larger homes.
But according to archaeologists K.P. Shajan and V. Selvakumar, they may be destroying the remnants of Muziris, a well-documented trading port where Rome and India met almost 3,000 years ago.
They say that, based on remote sensing data, a river close to Pattanam had changed its course and the ancient port may have been buried due to earthquakes or floods.
The two are worried construction activity in the village will destroy evidence about the existence of the port before they get the chance to examine it scientifically.
“There is no doubt that Pattanam was a major port that is linked to Indo-Roman trade,” Shajan tells AFP. “But we can’t confirm whether it was Muziris. We need more collaborative evidence to support our findings.”
A majority of the families that l