Paper presented by Prof. George Menachery
( 0091-9846033713)
at the Muziris International Seminar,
Christ College, Irinjalakuda,
Sept. 8 – 11, 2013:

Allow me to put my last para first by bringing to the attention of the learned scholars present an item from the Hindu dated January 21, 2012 which more or less summarises what I want to say here at the end of this paper.

Re-enact Muziris voyages, KHA tells Navy

In a key resolution, passed early this month, the association asked the Union Defence Ministry to take the lead in rebuilding such a cargo vessel at Beypore,
a historical boatbuilding hub in northern Kerala renowned for its esoteric technology adept at building ‘urus' [cargo sail yachts] using locally available timber and coir.

When the ‘Jewel of Muscat' (Jewel of Oman), currently installed as a maritime history museum in Singapore after a historical sail along the ancient Middle East
and the Far East, was constructed in Oman on the lines of a shipwrecked ninth-century cargo vessel, uru-builders of Beypore were called in to build it.

Here’s a Replica of the 9th Century Craft “Jewel of Oman”that sailed the Indian Ocean arriving in Kochi and then sailing away to Singapore. The glorious example of Indian Navy’s Abilash can also be studied.

Kerala Workmen from Beypore, using Coir Ropes and Teakwood on the Jewel of Oman,

The Jewel of Oman (Inside View)

Location of Muziris

Here are a few other authors who have identified Muziris with Kodungallur:

K.M. Panikkar : "The great hoards of Roman coins discovered in Kerala bear ample witness to the extensive character of this trade.”
[Here this writer would emphasise the coins from Eyyal, near Kunnamkulam, and Valuvally, near Parur of 80 years from Agustus to Nero].

Under Nero, Rome annexes Aden to protect the maritime route between Alexandria and Asia.

1.Caesar Augustus’ Gold Coin 2. Eyyal Hoard punch-marked coins(cf. Gupta, pic Menachery ) 3. Nero Gold Coin 4.Parur Hoard Roman Gold Coins (cf. Satyamoorthy)

[During this writer’s first term on the Archaeology Advisory Board of the Kerala Govt. 1975-78, if I remember right, fellow members Dr. K. V. Raman, Dr. T. K. Ravindran, Dr. M. G. S. Narayanan subscribed to the view that Muziris was Kodungallur]

Some others who equate Muziris with Kodungallur:

There are many more statements by a plethora of writers taking for granted that Muziris is Kodungallur.

3 aspects of Muziris Trade in Roman & Greek writers

Gk. & Roman writers we have examined speaking about India and/or Muziris include:

Gk. & Roman writers we have examined speaking about India and/or Muziris include (Contd.):

Aspect One : the products exported from Muziris and the demand for Muziris exports at Rome and elsewhere in the Empire

Lollia Paulina’s Pearls

3.01 Let me here introduce Lollia Paulina. It is Pliny the Elder, author of the 37 volumes of Natural History who speaks in detail about her.
1.Pliny 2.Lollia 3.“Natural History”

Pliny Describes Paulina’s Pearls


Sangam Poet PARANAR on Roman Pepper Trade at Muziris

Erakkaddur Thyankannanar on the Pepper Exports to Rome
"The thriving town of Muchir - where the beautiful large ships of the Yavanas, bringing gold, come splashing the white foam on the waters of the Periyar, which belongs to the Cherala (Chera or Kerala) and return laden with pepper.“ (Aham 148)
[It is surprising why some pundits are searching everywhere else except near the Periyar for a port specifically described as existing at the mouth of the Periyar. The absence of any passage from the Sangam period in Kerala Text Books also is a mystery.]

And here’s Pliny on Pepper Imports
Aspect Two: extend of the Muziris trade and its economic impact: Muziris Vienna Papyrus

5.01 When did Egyptians start trading with Muziris is not known, but a document discovered in Egypt in 1980 and first published in 1985 confirms that by 2nd century AD it was well established. Known as the Muziris papyrus or the Vienna papyrus it is now preserved in a  Vienna Museum. This papyrus document mentions a loan agreement made by an Egyptian merchant and a merchant in Muziris, for exporting Gangetic Nard, Ivorys and textiles. It also estimates the value of goods and a 25% tax for the items.
That Egyptian merchant gave this agreement to the Roman government as a guarantee for a loan and that is how this agreement survived through the ages. This discovery has opened a strong base to ancient international and trade laws in particular and has been studied at length by economists, lawyers as well as historians. Cf.f.i.Frederico de Romanis, various papers.

TheVienna Muziris Papyrus

5.02 Vienna Muziris Papyrus (Latest 2nd-3rd century AD)Casson remarks: - One of the great contributions of the papyrus is the concrete evidence it furnishes of the huge amounts of money that the trade with India required. The six parcels of the shipment recorded on the verso had a value of just short of 1155 talents almost as much as it cost to build the aqueduct at Alexandria. The parcel of ivory and the parcel of fabric together weighed 92 talents and wereworth 528,775 drachmas. A Roman Merchantman of just ordinary size had a capacity of 340 tons; it was capable of carrying over 11,000 talents of such merchandise. And the weather conditions on the route to India were such as to require the use of vessels of at least this sizeLoaded with cargoes of the likes of that recorded in this papyrus, they were veritable treasure ships.

Pliny on Drainage of Roman Gold to India

in spite of Pliny’s complaints this demand for pepper continued in Roman circles. The continued use of it inCooking raised its price to 15 denarii a pound for long pepper, 7 for the white, and 4 for the black pepper. This vigorous trade in pepper and other spices of India began to drain the Roman Empire of its wealth. Pliny is stupefied at the thought of this drainage. He says; "The subject (of setting forth the whole route from Egypt to India) is one well worthy of our notice, seeing that in no year does India drain our empire of less than five hundred and fifty millions of sesterces, giving back her own wares in exchange, which are sold among us at fully one hundred times their prime cost".

Some 300 years later pepper was still valued highly in Rome. Alaric the Goth King of the Visigoths we find, asking for 3000 pounds of pepper as an important part of the ransom to raise the siege against Rome. (Gibbon, Decline and Fall, XXXI)

The Mammoth Jeronimos MonasteryA World Heritage Monument; Vasco da Gama's final resting place built from  just 5% (150 lbs. gold yearly) of Portugal’s East. Revenue

Jeronimos Monastery built from a small %age of  Portugal’s Oriental Revenue

First Century ROMAN Gold COINS in Kerala

Large numbers of Roman coins have been discovered on the Malabar coast (e.g. from Eyyal between Cranganore and Palayur, and from Kottayam in North Kerala). In 1984 more than a thousand Roman gold coins were found buried in Parur, also not very distant from Parur - Cranganore. What is interesting is that the majority of these coins belong to a period of some 80 years from Augustus to Nero (B.C. 27 to A.D. 68).
The Periplus has this remark, "There are imported here (to Malabar Ports), in the first place a great quantity of coin,...." The Roman could, it is believed make a profit on the sale of gold coins in India, [as even today] perhaps because these were not only used as currency but also for ornament as is evidenced by the fact that many gold coins found in Kerala have been pierced through.

“History of Modern Europe is the history of the quest for Indian goods.” “All of world’s Gold and Silver ends up in India”

About Europe in general and England in particular which was the last western power involved with India it has been said, "the history of Modern Europe and emphatically of England, is the history of the quest of the aromatic gum, resins and balsams, and condiments and spices, of India etc. "
"it should not escape notice that gold and silver, after circulating in every other quarter of the globe, come at length to be absorbed in Hindustan. " Edward Farley Oaten, European Travellers in India, 1909, introduction, p.14.
  When Persia and Egypt fell beneath the power of the Arabs one of the spoils of their victory was the Indian Trade. Herodotus tells us that India is the wealthiest and most populous country on earth. As Sir George Birdwood has remarked. "The entire record of the intercourse between countries of the west and India from the very earliest times to the present day may be said to be the story of the struggle for the Indian trade“Sir George Birdwood,  p. 101; E. F. Oaten, p.8. 

Aspect Three: the route and modus for the transportation and the duration of the trips by land and sea
All the details of a return trip from Red Sea to Muziris are given by Pliny

2000 yr. old statue of Ostia Antica. Os. Ant. can shed much light on the arrangements at and fate of Muziris.

Only Geology and Archaeology can explain how Muziris vanished in ca.5thC.

Ostia Antica Amphitheatre : The Ghost of Hamlet’s Father

Let this congregation of scholars Pass a Resolution to arrange a Muziris-Red Sea Sail-Ship Voyage