By Higio Zarngam
IT WAS once a trade hub and the gateway to Rome and Egypt from India. In its heyday, Muziris was a popular commercial centre, where merchants from overseas came to trade gold and gemstones in exchange for “black gold” (pepper), and other spices. Then it fell off the map.
Now, courtesy the Kerala government, efforts are being made to turn this 1st century BC port, that remained buried for centuries, into a hot new tourist spot. The location of Muziris had long been a mystery for archaeologists and historians. It appears in historical documents as a business and cultural hub with strong international ties, and finds mention in Tamil Sangam literature from 600 BC to 300 AD.
The discovery was made during the 2007-08 excavations, when Roman remains almost 2,000 years old, were found some 220 km from the state capital Thiruvananthapuram. “At the moment, the monuments are in decay and barely tourist-worthy,” rues Benny Kuriakose, director of the Muziris heritage project.