Pattanam Archaeological Site and Contemporary Sites (5th c BCE to 5th c CE)


Archaeological excavations in various port sites along the Indian Ocean rim and beyond during the last four decades - have generated an exponential surge of new maritime data.   A comprehensive study of the new archaeological record along with written sources including myths and epics belonging to various cultures have the potential to unravel the maritime history of the early historic period (5th c BCE to 5th c CE).


Indian subcontinent having a strategic location at the mid-positon of the Indian Ocean, aided by the trade ideologies of Buddhism and Jainism raises new questions in terms of the role of South Asia in the first ever trans-oceanic network in human history.


Over 30 port sites on the Indian subcontinent from Gujarat to Bengal region and a further network of over 60 ports from South China to Western Europe brought the Old world (Asia, Africa and Europe) closer through trans-continental exchange of people, technology, goods and cultures. Euro – centric and nation centric perspectives, lack of scientific and reflective analysis, lack of collaborative and comparative studies have led this phase of maritime history either to be misconstrued or forgotten. It may be recalled here that the early historic web of maritime relations transpired before circa 15 centuries of the arrival of Vasco Da Gama in India or Columbus in America; which is still generally considered to be the beginning of geographical discoveries and trans-continental maritime exchanges in human history.

The Pattanam excavations and post excavation studies undertaken during the decade (2006 - 2016) have provided reliable reference data – through chronometric, stratigraphic and typological studies - to compare and verify them with the data already emerged and emerging.

The project aims to understand the early historic maritime history and material culture as a microcosm of human – nature interface. The effort is to address them in their inter-connectivity and inter-dependence and how technology, state, religion and culture evolved and were exchanged during this critical phase in human history

For full details of the project, academic collaborations, joining the research team, internships etc; institutions, experts, researchers and students can contact the Principal Investigator of the project by writing to PAMA.