History through coins

There is a coin exhibition going on in Trivandrum, which is like a narration of the whole history of Kerala state.

The coins on show include the silver Purana, issued by the Ay-Chera chieftains between 600 and 200 BC and which is believed to be the oldest coin of southernmost India; the silver Makotai, the earliest known portrait coin of South India, which was issued by the Cheras during the Sangam age; Roman dinarii; the minute Quarter Taras of Vijayanagar, which weigh just 0.06 gm; and the Vellichakram, issued by the Travancore king, Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma, in the mid-18th century.

The coins, which were in circulation in Malabar, such as the famed Gold Mohur; the Venetian Ducat; and the coins issued by the East India Company, the French in Mahe, and Hyderali and Tipu, are displayed. There is a collection of the gold coins minted by the Gangas, Hoysalas and Yadavas. [Coining a unique history]


Wikipedia has an entry on Kumaranasan, a great Malayali poet who lived in the early 20th century. The interesting fact is that it was Sri Narayana Guru who influenced him.

Kumaran was dogged by ill-health right through his early life. When he was eighteen, Sree Narayana Guru visited his house at the request of his father. Kumaran was bedridden at that time. The great saint suggested that Kumaran should stay with him and become his disciple. The little boy found the invitation irresistible. Thus began a new phase of life for the young lad.


Thiyyas are from Kyrgyzstan

Thiyya is a caste under Hinduism in the South Indian state of Kerala. Now there is a new study which explains where they came from.

The predominant Thiyya community of Malabar migrated to Kerala in 7000 BC from Kyrgyzstan in the erstwhile Soviet Union, says a fresh study revealing their disputed origins. While the people on the coast of the Black Sea were migrating to different parts of the world in BC 7000, a section who had settled in the foothills of Tian Mountains came to India.

“Thiyyas of Malabar are the descendants of this group of Kyrgyz,” asserts T. Damu in his latest Malayalam book `Lanka Parvam’. He says that the name Thiyya was derived from the name of the mountains, Tian, on the southern side of Kyrgyzstan. The Saikon community of Punjab and Saikover community of Rajasthan also have the same origin. [ Thiyyas migrated from Kyrgyzstan, says study]

So before the Indus Valley Civilization, and before all possible dates for Mahabharata, a bunch of people moved from Kyrgyzstan to Kerala. I have to read this book.

More On The Ship Wreck

There is “some more information”:http://www.webindia123.com/news/showdetails.asp?id=36992&cat=India about the 1000 year old shipwrreck “that was found”:https://varnam.org/archives/000288.html in the sleepy hamlet of Kadakkarapally of Thykkal village in Alappuzha district of Kerala.
bq. Archeologists say the boat is a product of fantastic workmanship. It is a double- hulled, double mast boat, divided into 11 compartments. The masts are no longer present. One mast step is in the center of the boat and the other is in the bow end. The boat has a pointed bow. The boat measures about 18.70 metres in length and its width is 4.05 metres. The original length of the boat could be around 21 metres.
bq. According to the historical records available, Thykkal was once a busy port. The Kerala Coastal Gazette, published by a local church says Thykkal and nearby areas had settlement of Jews and Arabs.The Gazette adds that the area where the ship was found could have been either a broad canal leading to the sea or part of the Arabian Sea itself. Thykkal is only two kilometers away from the Arabian sea coast in Alappuzha district.
While the older article mentioned that this wreck was 1000 years old, the new one says it is about 600-800 years old.
This brings up the question, what makes a hamlet sleepy ?

Hunting for Muziris

The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea is a travelog written by an unknown author in the first century about travel in the Indian Ocean. According to K.A. Nilakanta Sastri in his book, A History of South India.
bq. The author of the _Periplus_ (c A.D. 75) gives the most valuable information about this trade between India and the Roman empire. He mentions the ports of Naura (Cannanore), Tyndis–the Tondi of the poems, identified with Ponnani–and Muziris (Musiri, Crangannore), and Nelcynda very near Kottayam, as of leading importance on the west coast. Muziris abounded in ships sent there with cargoes from Arabia and by the Greeks.
A Sreedhara Menon in his book, A Survey of Kerala History writes that there is no doubt that the present Kodungallor is the ancient Musiris. Now Dr. Shajan, an archeologist “has proposed”:http://www.hindu.com/lf/2004/03/28/stories/2004032800080200.htm based on some evidence that Muziris, the legendary seaport of the ancient world, stood at Pattanam, a small town some 12 km south of the Periyar rivermouth (present day Kodungallur)
bq. Radiocarbon dating of peat samples showed that Kodungalloor and Paravur areas were part of the sea some 5,000 years ago. By about 1,000 B.C., however, the sea had regressed and the coastline had more or less stabilised about two km west of the area where these two towns are situated at present. Another clue that led the team to Pattanam was the finding, based on remote-sensing data, that Periyar had changed course during the millennia, and the river course was in the Pattanam area 2,000 years ago. “My view is that the Paravur Thodu, which flows near Pattanam, was the old channel of the Periyar,” says Dr. Shajan.
bq. The most important find was the rim and handle of a classic Italian wine amphora, which came from Naples and belonged to the late first century B.C. The amphora, which was used to transport wine and olive oil, had been identified from a number of Roman sites in India, including Arikamedu and Alagankulam in Tamil Nadu. [via “The Hindu”:http://www.hindu.com/lf/2004/03/28/stories/2004032800080200.htm]

1000 Year Old Ship Wreck

A shipwreck, 1000 years old has been “found in Kerala”:http://www.archaeology.org/magazine.php?page=0401/newsbriefs/boat
bq. More than 1,000 years old, the 72-foot-long sailing barge is made from caramel-colored anjili, a hardwood still growing nearby, but it lacks the sewn-plank construction common in India for the past 2,000 years.
bq. Though its uniqueness has led to speculation that foreign seafarers built the ship from local materials for ocean-bound voyages, Pederson says the boat’s construction would keep it closer to home. With a flat bottom and sharp transitions to the sides, “it’s bad for the ocean,” he says. “It’s better for short coastal runs and inland waters.”
In 1000 AD, Mahmud of Ghazni was making his invasions into North India performing his God given duty of removing idolatry. From 800-1100, Kerala was under the Chera Kingdom and the Kulashekshara Perumals ruled.
Kerala had trade contats with all countries from China to Palestine even before Christ. During those times boats without masts or rudder were very popular and were being rowed along the sea coast with 6 or 8 oarsmen. These boats were used to transport goods between coastal towns. According to V. Balakrishnan in his book “History of Syrian Christians of India”:http://www.mergingcurrents.com/book.php?BookSKU=979
bq. The spices, including pepper were transported from Kerala to the port of Broach in Gujarat, which was at that time the busiest port in the West Coast. From there goods were transported in much bigger ships either to ports situated at the end of the Persian Gulf, or after going around Arabia, to the ports situated at the end of Acquaba or the Suez, depending on the ultimate point of destination.
The information about this ship is very limited at this moment. We will keep track of the developments.

Ancient Ship

A “900 year old ship”:http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_831662.htmlhas been found in a rice field in Kerala
bq. The ship is made of local Indian wood but the craftsmanship is not, leading experts to suggest it was made by ancient Chinese, Japanese, Egyptians or Arabs.
bq. After carbon-dating tests on the ship’s wood, a local variety called Anjili, Gopi said: “We believe the ship to be approximately 920 years old. But the techniques used in making this vessel are definitely not Indian.”
But how come the experts cannot say if it is Chinese, or Japanese or Egyptian or Arabian ? Do all of them have the same style of ships ?

Kerala School of Mathematics

Dr. Subhash Kak has started a new column in Rediff. In his first article, “India’s schoolbook histories”:http://www.rediff.com/news/2003/aug/22kak.htm he writes about the Kerala school of Mathematics
bq. The astronomers Aryabhata and Bhaskara may be familiar to some from the eponymous spacecrafts of the Indian Space Organization. Aryabhata (500 AD) took the earth to spin on its axis and he described the planet periods with reference to the sun. He also took the solar system to be several hundred million miles across. In all of these things he was ahead of the rest of the world by more than a thousand years. Bhaskara (12th century) was a brilliant mathematician. The last two names belong to the amazing Kerala school of mathematics and astronomy.
There is more
Continue reading “Kerala School of Mathematics”