Arikamedu

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Arikamedu
அரிக்கமேடு
ChildWithBirdVirampatnamArikamedu1-2Century.jpg
A statue of a child with a bird, 2nd Century CE, found at Arikamedu
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Archaeological site icon (red).svg
Shown within Puducherry
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Archaeological site icon (red).svg
Arikamedu (India)
Location Pondicherry, India
Region South India
Coordinates 11°54′3″N79°49′13″E / 11.90083°N 79.82028°E / 11.90083; 79.82028 Coordinates: 11°54′3″N79°49′13″E / 11.90083°N 79.82028°E / 11.90083; 79.82028

Arikamedu is an archaeological site in Southern India, in Kakkayanthope, Ariyankuppam Commune, Puducherry. It is 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) from the capital, Pondicherry of the Indian territory of Puducherry.

Archaeological site Place in which evidence of past activity is preserved

An archaeological site is a place in which evidence of past activity is preserved, and which has been, or may be, investigated using the discipline of archaeology and represents a part of the archaeological record. Sites may range from those with few or no remains visible above ground, to buildings and other structures still in use.

India Country in South Asia

India, also known as the Republic of India, is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh largest country by area and with more than 1.3 billion people, it is the second most populous country as well as the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the southwest, and the Bay of Bengal on the southeast, it shares land borders with Pakistan to the west; China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the northeast; and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east. In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka and the Maldives, while its Andaman and Nicobar Islands share a maritime border with Thailand and Indonesia.

Kakkayanthope Out Growth in Puducherry, India

Kakkayanthope is a village in Ariyankuppam Commune in the Union Territory of Puducherry, India.

Contents

Sir Mortimer Wheeler 1945, and Jean-Marie Casal conducted archaeological excavations there in 1947–1950. The site was identified as the port of Podouke, known as an "emporium" in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea and Ptolemy. Digs have found Amphorae, Arretine ware, Roman lamps, glassware, glass and stone beads, and gems at the site. Based on these excavations, Wheeler concluded that the Arikamedu was a Greek (Yavana) trading post that traded with Rome, starting during the reign of Augustus Caesar, and lasted about two hundred years—from the late first century BCE to the first and second centuries CE. Subsequent investigation by Vimala Begley from 1989 to 1992 modified this assessment, and now place the period of occupation from the 2nd century BCE to the 8th century CE.

Mortimer Wheeler British archaeologist and Army officer (1890 – 1976)

Sir Robert Eric Mortimer Wheeler was a British archaeologist and officer in the British Army. Over the course of his career, he served as Director of both the National Museum of Wales and London Museum, Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India, and the founder and Honorary Director of the Institute of Archaeology in London, in addition to writing twenty-four books on archaeological subjects.

<i>Periplus of the Erythraean Sea</i> literary work

The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, also known by its Latin name as the Periplus Maris Erythraei, is a Greco-Roman periplus written in Koine Greek that describes navigation and trading opportunities from Roman Egyptian ports like Berenice Troglodytica along the coast of the Red Sea, and others along Horn of Africa, the Sindh region of Pakistan, along with southwestern regions of India. The text has been ascribed to different dates between the first and third centuries, but a mid-first century date is now the most commonly accepted. While the author is unknown, it is clearly a firsthand description by someone familiar with the area and is nearly unique in providing accurate insights into what the ancient European world knew about the lands around the Indian Ocean.

Ptolemy 2nd-century Greco-Egyptian writer and astronomer

Claudius Ptolemy was a Greco-Roman mathematician, astronomer, geographer and astrologer. He lived in the city of Alexandria in the Roman province of Egypt, wrote in Koine Greek, and held Roman citizenship. The 14th-century astronomer Theodore Meliteniotes gave his birthplace as the prominent Greek city Ptolemais Hermiou in the Thebaid. This attestation is quite late, however, and, according to Gerald Toomer, the translator of his Almagest into English, there is no reason to suppose he ever lived anywhere other than Alexandria. He died there around AD 168.

Significant findings at Arikamedu include numerous Indo-Pacific beads, which facilitated fixing the period of its origin. Red and black ceramics—known as megalithic stones or Pandukal in Tamil meaning "old stones" and used to mark graves—have existed at the site even prior to and during Roman occupation of the site, and also in later periods.

Tamil language language

Tamil is a Dravidian language predominantly spoken by the Tamil people of India and Sri Lanka, and by the Tamil diaspora, Sri Lankan Moors, Douglas, and Chindians. Tamil is an official language of two countries: Sri Lanka and Singapore and official language of the Indian state Tamil Nadu. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and the Indian Union Territory of Puducherry. It is used as one of the languages of education in Malaysia, along with English, Malay and Mandarin. Tamil is spoken by significant minorities in the four other South Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and the Union Territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India.

Location

Entrance to the Arikamedu site Arikamedu, Early Historic Site 03.jpg
Entrance to the Arikamedu site

Arikamedu is a coastal fishing village, under the Ariankuppam Panchayat, on the southeastern coast of India, 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) from Pondicherry, on the Pondicherry-Cuddalore road; it was originally a French colonial town. It is located on the bank of the Ariyankuppam River (for most part of the year the river is considered a lagoon), also known as Virampattinam River, which forms the northern outlet of the Gingee River as it joins the Bay of Bengal. As the site is located at the bend of the river it provides protection to sea-going vessels that dock there. The site has been subject to extensive archaeological excavations. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] The archaeological site is spread over an area of 34.57 acres (13.99 ha) and has been under the control of the Archaeological Survey of India since 1982. [1]

Ariyankuppam River is a distributary of Sankaraparani River. It branches off Sankaraparani near Thirukanchi. Due to property boom, its origin got cut offs. Thengaithittu Langoon is found in this river.Arikamedu is the major tourist spot in the river. Ariyankuppam River drains into Bay of Bengal at Puducherry Fishing Harbour

Bay of Bengal Northeastern part of the Indian Ocean between India and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands

The Bay of Bengal is the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean, bounded on the west and northwest by India on the north by Bangladesh, and on the east by Myanmar and the Andaman Islands of India and Myanmar and the Nicobar Islands of India. Its southern limit is a line between Sri Lanka and the northwesternmost point of Sumatra (Indonesia). It is the largest water region called a bay in the world. There are Countries dependent on the Bay of Bengal in South Asia and Southeast Asia. The Bay of Bengal was also called the Chola Lake.

Archaeological Survey of India Indian agency responsible for archaeological studies and preservation

The Archaeological Survey of India is an Indian government agency attached to the Ministry of Culture that is responsible for archaeological research and the conservation and preservation of cultural monuments in the country. It was founded in 1861 by Alexander Cunningham who also became its first Director-General.

Etymology

The name Arikamedu, an archaeological usage for the excavated site, originates in a Tamil word that means Mound of Arakan, based on the figurine of an avatar (incarnation) of the Jain Tirthankara Mahavira found at the site. It is also linked with Viraiyapattinam or Virampattinam, meaning Port of Virai, a village next to Arikamedu. Virai, according to Sangam literature, was well known as a port and also for its salt pans during the Velir dynasty. Arikamedu-Virampatnam together find mention as Poduke, a major port in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea in the first century CE and as Poduke emporion in Ptolemy's Geographia of mid first century CE. Poduke is a Roman name and is also said to be a corrupted version of the Tamil name Potikai, meaning a "meeting place", also known for the local Poduvar clan. [2] [7]

Avatar incarnation of anything, particularly of a deity in Hinduism

An avatar, a concept in Hinduism that means "descent", refers to the material appearance or incarnation of a deity on earth. The relative verb to "alight, to make one's appearance" is sometimes used to refer to any guru or revered human being.

<i>Tirthankara</i> Four and Twenty Teaching Gods in Jainism

In Jainism, a tirthankara is a saviour and spiritual teacher of the dharma. The word tirthankara signifies the founder of a tirtha, which is a fordable passage across the sea of interminable births and deaths, the saṃsāra. According to Jains, a tirthankara is a rare individual who has conquered the saṃsāra, the cycle of death and rebirth, on their own, and made a path for others to follow. After understanding the true nature of the Self or soul, the Tīrthaṅkara attains Kevala Jnana (omniscience), and the first Tirthankara refounds Jainism. Tirthankara provides a bridge for others to follow the new teacher from saṃsāra to moksha (liberation).

Mahavira 24th Tirthankara of Jainism, last in current cycle of Jain cosmology

Mahavira, also known as Vardhamāna, was the twenty-fourth tirthankara (ford-maker) who revived Jainism. In the Jain tradition, it is believed that Mahavira was born in the early part of the 6th century BC into a royal kshatriya family in present-day Bihar, India. He abandoned all worldly possessions at the age of 30 and left home in pursuit of spiritual awakening, becoming an ascetic. Mahavira practiced intense meditation and severe austerities for 12 years, after which he is believed to have attained Kevala Jnana (omniscience). He preached for 30 years and is believed by Jains to have died in the 6th century BC, although the year varies by sect. Scholars such as Karl Potter consider his biography uncertain; some suggest that he lived in the 5th century BC, contemporaneously with the Buddha. Mahavira attained nirvana at the age of 72, and his body was cremated.

History

Grey pottery with engravings found at the Arikamedu site GreyPotteryWithEngravingsVirampatnamArikamedu1stCenturyCE.jpg
Grey pottery with engravings found at the Arikamedu site

The first mention about Arikamedu was in 1734, in a communication from the Consul of the Indo-French colony of Pondicherry. It informed the French East India Company that villagers were extracting old bricks from the Virampattinam. The earliest mention of the Arikamedu archaeological site was by Le Gentil of France, who the King of France had assigned to observe notable astronomical occurrences in the world. Gentil, after visiting Arikamedu, confirmed the earlier report of the Consul of the Indo-French colony.

French East India Company Defunct French trading company

The French East India Company was a commercial Imperial enterprise, founded in 1664 to compete with the English and Dutch East India companies in the East Indies.

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

In 1765, when he visited the ruins at the site, he found the people of the village collecting large ancient bricks exposed at the river bank. [7] [2] The villagers told him that they had retrieved the bricks from an old fort of the king the Vira-Raguen. [7] In 1937, Jouveau Dubreuil, an Indologist, also from France, purchased gem stone antiquities from local children, and also gathered some exposed on the site's surface. In particular, he found an intaglio carved with the picture of a man. As a numismatist, he identified the intaglio as Augustus Caesar. He also found fine beads and gems. He concluded that these antiquities belonged to the Roman Empire. Dubreuil informed the local Governor of Pondicherry about his find, and called Arikamedu "a true Roman city." He published a short note about his findings. [8] [5] [6] [7]

In the early 1940s, Service des Travaux Publics carried out random excavations. Father Fancheux and Raymand Surleau, who were not qualified archaeologists, carried out the excavations at Arikamedu and sent a few antiquities to Indian museums, and also to the École française d'Extrême-Orient in Hanoi. [9]

Sir R.E.M.Wheeler, the Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India, in the 1940s saw a few potsherds of Arikamedu site displayed in the Madras Museum, which he identified as Arrentine ware, an expensive ceramic made until 50 CE in Arizzo, Italy. [9] Thereafter, when he visited the Pondicherry Museum and saw more of the findings from the Arikamedu site, he was impressed and thought that he had found the links between the Classical Mediterranean and Ancient India. [7] Soon thereafter in 1945, the penultimate year of World War II, he mounted excavations in a scientific manner. He was looking for an archaeological site in India that could establish its cultural link, a datum of the Indian antiquities to the Greco-Roman period, and this quest led him to the Arikamedu site. These excavations also involved Indian archaeologists, who were trained on the site.

Wheeler published his findings in 1946. He noted that, for the local fishermen of the village, the antiquities were strange—as they consisted of lamps, glass items, gemstones, cutlery and crockery, wine containers, etc. He also observed that traders traveled from west coast and from Ceylon, Kolchoi (Colchi) and the Ganges area to trade goods such as gems, pearls and spices, and silk. [10] [6] He carried out excavations carefully, so that none of the antiquities were damaged. This was followed by investigations after the war, from 1947–1950 by Jean-Marie Casal. His report of excavations was not as fully published as Wheeler's. His report was not well known in India, as it was not written in English. However, his important conclusion was that the site belonged to an early megalithic period, as he had located megalithic burials marked by stones, locally known in Tamil as Pandukal close to the site. [10] [5] [7] [11]

The excavations led to antiquities of Roman origin such as beads and gems, amphorae (wine making vats) with remnants of wine, a Roman stamp, big bricks recovered from an old wall, Arretine ware and so forth. From these antiquities Wheeler concluded that the site was related to a period of trading with Rome, and that it was first established by emperor Augustus. He also noted that this Indo-Roman trade lasted for a period of about 200 years, till 200 CE. [12] [5] [11] Wheeler also found the Chinese celadon, identified to belong to the Song-Yuan dynasty, and Chola coins from about the eleventh century, but these were rejected as despoiling items or remnants left by brick-robbers. Items Chinese blue-and-white ware were also recovered from the site. [12] [7]

Wheeler noted that "rouletted Ware" found at the site (designated as "Arikamedu Type 1" in the scientific study under the "Arikamedu Type 10 Project: Mapping Early Historic Networks in South Asia and Beyond") was not of an Indian origin, but was from the Mediterranean region. A ceramic sherd, ("Arikamedu Type 10) has also been investigated for its style and spatial distribution. [13]

After a gap of several decades, in the early 1980s, Vimala Begley studied the ceramics find of the site and proposed a preliminary version of the chronology of the occupation of the site. At the same time she started researching on the beads, organized a proper sequential display of the artifacts of the site at the Pondicherry Museum, and brought out an information brochure. [10]

Begley obtained approvals to carry out excavations at the site in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Madras; she and K.V. Raman were the directors of operation from 1989 to 1992. Steven Sidebothom of the University of Delaware, who had back ground knowledge of Roman Egypt, was in charge of the trenching at the site. [12] Further excavations were done during six working seasons from 1989 to 1992, which led to a contradictory view that the brick structures and the wells investigated by Wheeler were of poor quality as they were founded on poor sandy foundations. The wood work was also noted to be of poor quality and the houses had no waterproofing. The excavations also lead to a view that Arikamedu's Roman trading link was more of an inference. The excavations have now established that the trading with Rome extended to a period beyond that assessed by Wheeler; [6] that trading continued from the second century BCE to the seventh or eighth century CE. [12]

The extensive findings of glass and stone beads at the site provided Begley the link to Arikamedu's history. She identified the beads as Indo-Pacific beads crafted at Arikamedu. [7] Based on the antiquities and structural features from the excavations, Begley and Raman established a revised sequence of six major periods of occupation of the site. Finds of new variety of Roman Amphorae ware also facilitated revision of the dates of occupancy. [3] They have also inferred that the site has been in continuous occupation since at least 2nd or 3rd century BCE to much more recent times. [12]

Excavations

Site of the ancient harbour Site of Arikemedu's ancient harbour.jpg
Site of the ancient harbour
Old brick built building structure Arikamedu.jpg
Old brick built building structure

The excavated area of the mound was demarcated into two zones on the basis of occupation and elevation. Northern sector of the mound is nearer to the sea coast while the southern sector is farther away from the coast. The ceramic find of crockery and cooking vessels found in the northern sector were indicative of mass feeding of sailors and traders who camped there. Wine stored in amphorae was the principal item imported from the western countries during the later part of the 2nd century BCE. [12]

According to Wheeler the finds from the northern and southern part of the mound belong to the period from the later part of the 1st century BCE to the 1st and 2nd centuries CE. Identified structures include:

Smaller objects include a wheel-turned blackware ceramic, a few terracotta figurines, shell beads, gems, gold, terracotta, iron nails, copper percussion beater, red fragment of a Roman lamp shade, an engraved emblem of emperor Augustus, an ivory handle, and a wooden toy boat. Based on these antiquities Wheeler concluded that the Arikamedu was a Greek (Yavana) trading station. However, recent excavations by Begley have altered this assessment. [4] [3]

The buildings in the northern part of the mound indicative urbanization, with people of different ethnic groups—Indian and non-Indian—but it has not been possible to date them in view of the limited depth of excavations. [12]

Conservation

An international conference that the Government of Pondicherry and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs held in October 2004 decided to investigate the Arikamedu site jointly for conservation, as its ancient commercial link with the Romans has been established. During this conference, the Government of Pondicherry also decided to propose the site for status as a World Heritage Site of UNESCO. [1] The Archaeological Survey of India also proposed the site for UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site status, under the title Silk Road Sites in India. [14]

See also

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References

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  2. 1 2 3 Francis 2002, p. 27.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Excavations – Important – Pondicherry". Archaeological Survey of India. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Singh 2008, pp. 415–17.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Venkatramani, S.H. (29 February 1984). "Arikamedu: Forgotten heritage". India Today. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  6. 1 2 3 4 Ray 2003, p. 127.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "The Margaretologist:Final Report on Arikamedu, India" (pdf). The journal of the Center for Bead Research, Volume 13, Number 2 Issue 30. 2001. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  8. Francis 2002, p. 27-28.
  9. 1 2 Francis 2002, p. 28.
  10. 1 2 3 Francis 2002, p. 29.
  11. 1 2 Begley, Vimala (October 1983). "Arikamedu Reconsidered". American Journal of Archaeology. 87 (4): 461. doi:10.2307/504104. JSTOR   504104.
  12. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Francis 2002, p. 30.
  13. "The Arikamedu Type 10 Project: Mapping Early Historic Networks in South Asia and Beyond". Durham University. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  14. "Silk Road Sites in India". UNESCO Organization. Retrieved 14 September 2015.

Bibliography