Finds at excavation site support Spice Route''

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Mumbai, Feb 27 (PTI) Remains at an excavation site inKerala''s ancient port town of Vizhinjam have given furtherpush to the State''s bid to get UNESCO heritage status for the''Spice Route'' used for trade with outside world centuries ago,archaeologists have said.

For over 2,000 years, Kerala has been a key player inIndian Ocean commerce and its trading partners have includedthe Roman Empire, Arabian Gulf and Far East, their merchantsdriven there by the ancient world''s love for spices,especially pepper.

Vizhinjam, situated on a deep, natural harbour, ismentioned in medieval inscriptions. It was once the capital ofthe Ay dynasty which ruled southern Kerala from the 8th to10th century AD. However, its history prior to this period hasalways remained something of a mystery. Now, an exciting newproject is underway that is slowly revealing its early past.

Ajit Kumar of Department of Archaeology, University ofKerala, in collaboration with Robert Harding of theCivilisations in Contact Project (funded by the Golden WebFoundation), University of Cambridge, has commenced excavationat Vizhinjam with a view to understand the town''s culturalantiquity and chronology.

Two trenches have been laid and several interestingpottery types recovered. While the majority is of local andSouth Tamil Nadu origin, there are a number of distinctforeign pottery types that are of significance, Kumar said.

A distinctive amphora base and a side section of anamphora with bitumen coating have been found, along with twosmaller amphora sherds, he said. .

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