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The excavations at Vizhinjam began in 2010 and were conducted by the team led by Ajit Kumar, Head of the Department of Archaeology, University of Kerala.

The findings are based on the discovery of pieces of ancient pottery, including sherds of rouletted ware, amphora, BI-glazed ware and torpedo jar from the site.

Excavations at Vizhinjam, for the first time, unearthed constructive evidence authenticating the maritime trade links of Vizhinjam extending from the Red Sea to the eastern littoral region of peninsular India and beyond to Far East Asia.

It also supported earlier suggestions that this port could have been Balita that finds mentioned in The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, a Greco- Roman account of maritime travel and trade in the Indian Ocean by a merchant of the 1st Century AD, or ‘Blinca,’ mentioned in the Peutinger Tables (4th Century AD).

Findings from Vizhinjam

The team from the Department of Archaeology, University of Kerala discovered the remnants of a fort at Vizhinjam, which was thought to date back to the 8th or 9th century CE and probably belonged to the Ay chieftains.

Rouletted ware, according to Dr Ajit Kumar, is an excellent chronological indicator and is believed to have had its origin in the Bengal region and was in circulation from the 2nd century BC to the 2nd century CE.

The amphora ware dates back to the 1st to – 3rd century CE, while the bi-glazed ware had its origins in West Asia and is datable to the early Christian era.

“The evidence of large quantities and variety of torpedo jar sherds and turquoise glazed ware point to brisk trade activities with the Persian Gulf and West Asian region during the medieval period (6th to 10th century CE). The Ay chieftains from Vizhinjam probably perpetuated the early medieval trade activity from Vizhinjam.”

“The Chinese and European ware found from the site attest to the pivotal role played by Vizhinjam in the Indian Ocean trade in the subsequent colonial period.”

During the course of the excavations held near a centuries-old temple at Vizhinjam, the team discovered local pottery types and portions of dwellings. A bowl-on-stand, dating back to the early historic (1st to 4th century CE or medieval (4th to 6th century CE) period, coins, glass beads and semi-precious stones like carnelian (not locally available) were also found.

According to Dr. Ajit Kumar, iron slag and crucibles recovered from the site supported medieval epigraphic records, highlighting the importance of Vizhinjam as a prominent arms manufacturing station of the Ay chieftains.

The discovery of the broken leg of a figurine datable to the 8th or 9th century CE provided evidence of the lost wax technique for casting bronze images in this region in early medieval times.