Radiocarbon dating puts Pattanam antiquity to 500 BC

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Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 7 (UNI) The antiquity of Pattanam, the first habitation site of the Iron Age ever unearthed in Kerala, extends back to as far as the first millennium BC, as determined by the Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon analyses.

According to the Kerala Council for Historical Research(KCHR) sources, the analyses conducted at the Bhubaneswar-based Institute of Physics suggested that Pattanam, located seven km north of Kodungallur in Ernakulam district, had witnessed the Iron Age occupation during the first half of the first millennium BC.

Pattanam Excavations/Explorations Project Director Prof P J Cherian, in a statement here today, said the mean calendar dates determined from the AMS test of five charcoal samples from the trenches and part of wooden canoe had placed the antiquity of ancient maritime activity of Pattanam at about 500 BC, with an uncertainty of less than a century.

He said the artefacts recovered reveal that the site had links with the Mediterranean, Red Sea, Arabian Sea and South China sea rims since the early-historic period of South India.

Prob Cherian said the organic samples from the site were also being analysed at the Hyderabad-based National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) employing conventional or radiometric method of carbon dating.

He said the AMS analyses suggested that the Pattanam canoe, dating back to 1300 BC to 100 BC, could be the earliest known canoe in India.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had granted licence to him for the second consecutive season for excavation activities in Pattanam and the work was scheduled to begin next month, he said.

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