Tag Archives: p.j. cherian

Marxists and Christians search for St. Thomas at Pattanam – Sandhya Jain


“Kerala’s attempt to create spurious evidence of the arrival of Apostle Thomas in India merits wider dissemination. It must be seen as part of a concerted attempt to entrench the Cross in India.” – Sandhya Jain


Pattanam: Constructs, Contexts and Interventions by B.S. Harishankar


Rescuing the antiquity of Indian civilisation from the biblical mythology of Max Mueller, rubbishing the well-orchestrated history-as-dogma of the Aryan invasion and proving the existence of river Saraswati, excavating and resurrecting the still unknown past, and restoring the once handsome architectural marvels that have fallen victim to time or iconoclasts, Indian archaeologists have their task cut out for them. Their work is critical in correcting the lacunas, misinterpretations and falsifications of history in various parts of the country, especially at the hands of scholars with a pronounced bias against our native traditions.

Unless repudiated, invented history enters the popular mind as “fact”. The Aryan fable still persists because Marxists have been able to prevent all historical and scientific findings, disproving the movement of people into India at the time of the alleged “invasion”, from entering school textbooks where the foundations of knowledge are laid. This is why noted archaeologist B.S. Harishankar’s debunking of the Kerala Council for Historical Research’s (KCHR) attempts to create spurious evidence of the arrival of Apostle Thomas in India, unequivocally denied by Pope Benedict XVI in September 2006, merits wider dissemination.

The excavations to identify Pattanam, in Ernakulum district, with ancient Muziris of the Cheras, began soon after the Syro-Malabar Church scrambled to rescue the legend that claimed India as the first mission of the church, long before it went to Europe. As a result, in November 2006, the Vatican Secretariat accepted the story as history, to project Christianity as an indigenous faith of great longevity. Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) embraced the project with alacrity; the brochure, Muziris Heritage Project: Pattanam Excavations 2008, lists Prof. Romila Thapar as one of the patrons.


B.S. Harishankar


In Pattanam: Constructs, Contexts and Interventions (2017), Harishankar denounces the presence of European and American scholars in the dig, while excluding the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and Indian universities. Eminent historians Prof. Dilip K. Chakbrabarti and Prof. M.G.S. Narayanan, and archaeologists Prof. R. Nagaswamy, Prof. A. Sundara, and Prof. T.  Sathyamurthy, denounced the attempts to link Pattanam with Muziris, when Kodungallur where the river meets the sea, is far more logical. Neither archaeological evidences nor historical records support Apostle Thomas arrived in India; he possibly visited Fars (Persia) and the Afghanistan region.

Harishankar has referenced the Pattanam excavations with all researched and published material available. The KCHR, headed by Prof. K.N. Panikkar of JNU, is alleged to have manipulated archaeological evidence and manufactured new evidence to “prove” that Pattanam had historical ties with Jerusalem and other regions in West Asia from 1000 BC. He discusses the evidence that debunks the theory that there was ever a port city at Pattanam along the west coast, which the KCHR historians claim was an international trade route dating back to 800 BC.

Interestingly, the claim that Apostle Thomas established the first settlement at Pattanam was independently debunked by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Trombay, and the National Institute of Oceanography, Kochi. The BARC scientists, who successfully traced the course of the Saraswati through radio isotope studies, examined Kerala’s mud banks during the monsoons and concluded that marine and palaeo-hydrological studies rule out the possibilities of a port city, wharf or township at Pattanam. In fact, the area excavated by the KCHR does not qualify for excavations as the cultural stratigraphy has been badly damaged by monsoons, floods, erosion, and construction activities. Moreover, as Harishankar maintains, the ASI is the only body competent to authorise excavations.

Pattanam is not an archaeological mound, as claimed by KCHR. Western India, Harishankar argues, has several archaeological sites with ramparts or mud embankments to prevent floods. No such evidence has been found at Pattanam. On the contrary, the site at Pattanam in lower Periyar has coastal alluvium with sand and clay, and lacks laterite formation or thick soil. Hence, it was not chosen as an Iron Age settlement.

Moreover, urbanism in early historic India involves certain precursors such as immense size, internal planning, public architecture, settlement hierarchies, enclosing walls, script, craft specialisation, long-distance trade, subsistence strategies and population growth. None of these exist at Pattanam, yet KCHR’s chosen scholars claimed as an urban site and port city. When the absence of these parameters were pointed out, the KCHR historians toned down their claims and alleged that the structural remains unearthed were carried away by locals, which is simply ridiculous.

Curiously, KCHR forwarded the plant remains found at Pattanam to the Spices Board, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, though it has no competence to examine them. And despite premier institutions available in India, the carbon dating was done abroad. But what is more pertinent, KCHR’s modern historians with no experience in field archaeology should not have excavated Pattanam with foreign funds and a crew of Biblical scholars.

KCHR appointed Dr. P.J. Cherian, with no academic background in archaeology, as director of the Pattanam excavations. Cherian’s PhD dissertation is on “The Communist Movement in Travancore: From the Origins to the Uprisings in 1946” (University of Calicut, 1993). However, The University of Rome Tor Vergata granted a three-year research fellowship to P.J. Cherian, Director, KCHR, and Pattanam excavations.

To assist Cherian, some distinguished biblical historians and Latin scholars were attached to the project. They include Istvan Perczel (Hungarian scholar of Byzantine history and early Christianity); Roberta Tomber (specialist in Roman and Indian Ocean pottery); Federico de Romanis (expert on Roman and Portuguese pepper trade); and Irving R. Finkel (British philologist and Assyriologist, expert in the script, languages and cultures of the Middle East). None is equipped to handle excavations; it’s a Max Mueller style of biblical mumbo jumbo.

In an exhibition at the National Museum in 2014, KCHR claimed Pattanam is the third Indian site to unearth terra sigillata pottery after Arikamedu and Alagankulam in Tamil Nadu, though it has been found at Uraiyur, Kanchipuram, Vasavasamudram, Kodumanal, Karur and Sulur in Tamil Nadu and several sites in Gujarat and western India. It claimed that rouletted pottery from Pattanam was reported for the first time on the west coast, when it was found in 124 sites across the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.

Cherian is the executive president of the Association for the Preservation of the Saint Thomas Christian Heritage. His claim that his excavation unearthed evidence of a 2,000-year-old port city at a place where Saint Thomas allegedly landed rests more on faith than on history or archaeology. It must be seen as part of a concerted attempt to entrench the Cross in Asia, particularly India. – The Pioneer, 3 April 2018.

› Sandhya Jain is a political analyst and columnist with The Pioneer, New Delhi.


Dr. Nagaswamy refutes the St. Thomas myth from 11:30 mins …


 

The communal agenda of Marxist and Christian historians in India – G.P. Srinivasan


“The Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR) aimed to establish under manufactured and deceptive archaeological evidence that Pattanam was ancient Muziris of the Cheras where, supposedly, Thomas the Apostle had landed.” – G.P. Srinivasan


P. J. Cherian


Historical records and archaeological evidence are conveniently denied, but strategically manipulated and suppressed by Communist historians in India. They vigorously preach Aryan invasion theory despite clinching archaeological, archaeozoological and palaeoanthropological evidence. They vehemently deny palaeohydrological and palaeoclimatic evidence on Sarasvati river. But the Left historians have always joined hands with Church lobbies in India for transforming myth into history. The recent evidence of this Communist–Church federation is at Pattanam, a site in Ernakulum district of Kerala.


Prof M. G. S. Narayanan and Dr B. S. Hari Shankar : Book release on March 17, 2017 at Kozhikkode


The book titled Pattanam: Constructs, Contexts and Interventions by Dr. B.S. Harishankar was released on March 17, 2017 at Kozhikode in Kerala by Professor M.G.S. Narayanan, former ICHR chairman. According to Professor M.G.S. Narayanan eminent historian, Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR) is a Marxist research council. Professor Narayanan made this observation when he was inaugurating the release of this book published by Bharatheeya Vichara Kendram. Dr. M.G.S. Narayanan charged that the KCHR was organised by the CPM, consisting of historians who followed the dictates and agenda of the party. They kept away the Archaeological Survey of India and Indian universities while initiating the Pattanam excavations under the Muziris Heritage Project. The KCHR aimed to establish under manufactured and deceptive archaeological evidence that Pattanam was ancient Muziris (Muchiri) of the Cheras. The project was also launched for protecting the personal gains of CPM leaders Dr.. T.M. Thomas Issac, current finance minister in CPM government in Kerala and M.A. Baby, polit bureau member.

There was no transparent archaeological research at Pattanam under KCHR. Earlier, stone beads were identified at Pattanam following heavy rains. It was widely propagated that the site was a port city and an ancient township of the Cheras before launching the excavations. When questions were raised at KCHR regarding claims of a township and port city, they took a retreat from their early contentions and made incredible statements that the structural remains unearthed were carried away by local residents.

The KCHR also provides an incredible presentation of a wharf to vindicate their claims of a port city according to M.G.S. Narayanan. Ambiguous and distorted evidence of pottery has been put forward by KCHR. Pattanam was highlighted by KCHR in its National Museum exhibition in 2014 as the third site to unearth terra sigillata pottery in India after Arikamedu and Alagankulam in Tamil Nadu. KCHR has suppressed the fact that terra sigillata has been recovered from Uraiyur, Kanchipuram, Vasavasamudram, Kodumanal, Karur and Sulur in Tamil Nadu and  numerous sites in western India, especially Gujarat. Similarly, KCHR contended that rouletted pottery from Pattanam was reported for the first time on west coast. This is another false statement. This pottery has been reported from 124 sites across Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea.


Fraudulent Pattanam archaeological dig, supposed landing place of St Thomas


Professor Narayanan said that KCHR also intends to propagate that St. Thomas landed in Kerala coast in first century AD to propagate Christianity. There are no archaeological evidence or historical records to substantiate that Apostle Thomas arrived in India. There are some records to vindicate that he arrived in the Afghanistan region. The Pattanam excavations under KCHR is the biggest archaeological duplicity and treachery in the history of Indian historical research in this century. Narayanan said the current book has comprehensively documented and discussed Pattanam excavations using all researched and published material available  which the  KCHR cannot push aside or ignore.

Pattanam excavations were not an accidental episode or a project initiated in understanding the historical past of India’s west coast. Pope Benedict XVI, refused to accept St Thomas myth as history. But following pressure by Syro Malabar Church, Vatican secretariat send letter to Cardinal Mar Varkey Vithayathil in Kerala on November 25, 2006 accepting St. Thomas myth as history and initiating activities for establishing it as truth. Pattanam excavations by KCHR comprising Left historians panel started at this time.

The Marxist historians led by Professor K.N. Panikkar from JNU who is now chairman of KCHR, manipulated archaeological evidence, manufactured new evidence and spread huge lies to establish that Pattanam had historical relations with Jerusalem, Israel and other countries in West Asia from 1000 BC. The director of Pattanam excavations is Dr. P.J. Cherian, a  Left and Church historian who did his Ph.D in 1993 from University of Calicut on the topic, The Communist Movement in Travancore: From the Origins to the Uprisings in 1946.  For Pattanam excavations, Cherian is supported by University of Rome. The University of Rome Tor Vergata has conferred a three-year research fellowship on P.J. Cherian, Director, Kerala Council for Historical Research and Pattanam excavations as reported by The Hindu on February 16, 2011. Cherian took an interest in archaeology due to directions given by United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia (UBCHEA) with headquarters in New York as reported by Express News Service on February 17, 2011. The Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East published on March 5, 2011 Cherian’s statement that recent excavations in Kerala have found evidence of a port city that existed more than 2,000 years ago at a place where Saint Thomas is believed to have landed. P.J. Cherian is executive president of the Association for the Preservation of the Saint Thomas Christian Heritage. Cherian has presented papers linking St. Thomas and Pattanam at the seminars organized by Liturgical Research Centre of Syro Malabar Church in November 2005 at Kochi and July 2011 at Kalyan in Mumbai. Irving R. Finkel, scholar in biblical studies, inaugurated Khor Rori KCHR Children’s Museum at Pattanam. Few people know the fact that  Khor Rori, a place said to be located in Oman said to be associated vaguely to biblical episodes.

The KCHR has huge financial and academic support of a Euro-American lobby outside India. The KCHR has kept away ASI and Indian universities from Pattanam excavations. Recently, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs has cancelled the license of over twenty NGOs in Kerala under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act 2010 with effect from November 1, 2010 which included KCHR. It is also alleged that the KCHR director Dr. P.J. Cherian was involved in creation of fake government documents, illegal appointments and financial irregularities worth crores.


ASI Ayodhya Excavation


The Left and pseudo-secular historians in India who now work hard at Pattanam for proving the archaeological evidence of Apostle Thomas have simultaneously denied the existence of a Hindu temple at Ayodhya. Veteran archaeologists such as Professor B.B. Lal, late Dr. P. Gupta, Y.D. Sharma and K.M. Srivastava presented convincing archaeological evidence of a temple beneath the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya. The team found that the objects were dateable to the period ranging from the 10th through the 12th century AD. Besides Vaishnavite images and that of Shiva–Parvati, the unearthed objects at Ayodhya also included a number of amakalas, i.e., the cogged-wheel type architectural element which crown the bhumi shikharas or spires of subsidiary shrines, as well as the top of the spire or the main shikharas. There were other evidences such as cornices, pillar capitals, mouldings, door jambs with floral patterns precisely showing clinching evidence regarding the existence of a 10th-12th century AD  temple complex at the site of Ayodhya.

B.B. Lal has noted that the ruins of Ayodhya have a circuit of 4 to 5 kms and rise at places to a height of 10 metres above the ground level. He observed that the Northern Black Polished Ware  (NBPW) at the earliest level and continues with several structural phases up to the third century AD. The Left historians such as Professors R. S. Sharma, Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib, D. N. Jha and K. N. Panikkar from  Jamia Millia, Delhi, JNU and Aligarh universities denied this archaeological evidence at Ayodhya for their pseudo secular interests. Their research methodology, manufacture of archaeological evidence and communal agenda have all been exposed from Pattanam excavations.

› G.P. Srinivasan does historical research and reporting from Srirangam.


 

ASI doubting Thomases suspend dubious KCHR St. Thomas project – G. Ananthakrishnan


“What has snowballed into a controversy is the open declaration by KCHR director, P. J. Cherian in the official bulletin of the Assyrian Church of the East on March 2011, that Pattanam has been identified as ancient Muziris, where Apostle Thomas landed in India 2000 years back for propagating Christianity, which he claims has been vindicated by the excavations,” said B. S. Harishankar, a research fellow with the Delhi-based India Policy Foundation.


Doubting Thomas with his finger in Jesus's side wound.


The history battle has gone all the way back to St. Thomas, the apostle of Jesus Christ, who is believed to have brought Christianity to India and whose scepticism gifted the world the idiom “doubting Thomas”.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has decided not to extend the permission granted to an excavation project in Kerala to “reinstate the cultural and historical significance of the legendary Muziris port”.

The Muziris port was said to be where St. Thomas arrived in AD 52. But the exact location of the port, which was destroyed in a flood, is a mystery although the general consensus appears to be that it was located somewhere near Kodungalloor in Thrissur, a northern district and cultural capital of Kerala.

Many Christians believe that St. Thomas—who accepted Jesus had risen from the dead only after the lord appeared and invited the apostle to touch him—baptised several Brahmins in Kerala and set up one of the oldest Christian communities in the world.


Syrian bishop with Pope Benedict XVI


The arrival of St. Thomas is of extreme significance for Christians since Jesus had only 12 apostles and he was one of them. In 2006, the Vatican had to issue a retraction after the then Pope, Benedict XVI, seemed to suggest St. Thomas had travelled only till western India from where Christianity reached the south.

The Gospel according to John mentions that once a convinced Thomas said “My Lord, My God”, Jesus told him: “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed (are) they that have not seen, and (yet) have believed.”

It was those who insist on seeing before believing that some advocates of the project were hoping to convince by coming up with evidence that St. Thomas had indeed set foot on what is now a village called Pattanam (which means town) in Kodungalloor.

“Rules demand that extension beyond five years can be given only after those carrying out the excavation submit reports. In the case of the Muziris project, the digging has been going on for over seven years now, but no report was filed. So no fresh permission can be granted,” ASI joint director R.S. Fonia told The Telegraph over the phone from New Delhi.

Fonia, however, added that the matter could be revisited as and when the reports were filed and reviewed.

The executors of the project, the Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR), could not be contacted despite repeated attempts to confirm whether they had not filed any report till now.

The denial of an extension would have been treated as a routine bureaucratic decision but for the fact that the Sangh Parivar had long been opposing the project on the ground that its intention was to “legitimise the yet unproven story” of the arrival of St. Thomas in Kodungalloor in AD 52.

That the Kerala historical council was an autonomous body floated by an erstwhile government of the CPM-led Left Front has ensured that the matter has the essential ingredients for a controversy in the highly politicised state.


K. N. Panikkar


The council is headed by historian K. N. Panikkar, a regular target of the Sangh Parivar for his Left-leaning views and vocal stand against the so-called “nationalist” history. Some members of the council are viewed by the Sangh outfits as “pro-Church”.

“What has snowballed into a controversy is the open declaration by KCHR director, P. J. Cherian in the official bulletin of the Assyrian Church of the East on March 2011, that Pattanam has been identified as ancient Muziris, where Apostle Thomas landed in India 2000 years back for propagating Christianity, which he claims has been vindicated by the excavations,” said B. S. Harishankar, a research fellow with the Delhi-based India Policy Foundation.

Cherian could not be contacted for comment.

While the Bharateeya Vichara Kendram, a Sangh affiliate, smelt in the excavation project a “conspiracy to manufacture history”, a “Marxian historian” had felt that the site was unfit for archaeological excavation because of construction and digging of wells.


M. A. Baby


But CPM politburo member M. A. Baby, who was the culture minister when the council took up the project, said: “Although there is no conclusive evidence, it is widely believed that apostle St Thomas came to Kodungalloor and through him Christianity reached Kerala even before it reached Europe.

“On the one hand, the BJP government is trying to establish fairy tales as history while on the other, it is trying to shut down genuine research in history. The agenda is very clear. Now, if the ASI says it can’t be continued, it is unscientific and against the science of history.”

That the CPM, traditionally considered an adversary of the Church, is supporting such a project speaks volumes about the politics of Kerala.

Now in the Opposition, the CPM is fearing an erosion of its Hindu support base towards the BJP, considered a rising force in a state where it has not made much headway till now. Against such a backdrop, it does not make sense for the CPM to antagonise Christians.

Such tilts and counter-tilts are common in Kerala. In 2001, the historical council that was later entrusted with the Muziris excavation was dissolved by a government headed by the Congress.

The chief minister then was A. K. Antony named after a Catholic saint, and the Congress was then supposed to have been courting Hindus. But a court reinstated the council. – The Telegraph, 1 October 2015


P. J. Cherian & Robert Eisenman


 

KCHR’s Muziris Project: Digging for the bones of St. Thomas – B.S. Harishankar

Organisations which have come out openly against the Kerala Council for Historical Research and its Muziris Project have alleged that “these same historians who had earlier rebuffed Ramayana and Sri Ram as fictitious and fabricated are now digging for the bones of Apostle Thomas.” – B.S. Harishankar

 


P. J. Cherian & Robert Eisenman


What took place in November 2011 was neither a debate nor a discord. The venue was Thiruvananthapuram, at the Joint Annual Conference of Indian Archaeological Society (ACIAS), Indian Society for Prehistoric and Quaternary Studies (ISPQS), and Indian History and Culture Society (IHCS). Strongly criticising the archaeological excavations at Pattanam site in Kerala and the rambling hotchpotch of cultural remains without periodisation especially pottery, veteran archaeologist and former director of Archaeology and Museums, Karnataka, A. Sundara’s strong criticism came after the Kerala Council for Historical Research (henceforth KCHR) director presented his paper on Pattanam excavations. Professor Sundara is one of the most reputed archaeologists in India known for his objective outlooks and unbiased conclusions for which he was honoured at the meet. Earlier, Professor Sundara was also one of the well wishers of Pattanam excavations in the Pattanam Archaeological Research (PAR) brochure published by the KCHR in March-April 2008. His censuring of Pattanam excavations although came as a surprise, was not an isolated incident. Much more censorious on Pattanam was Professor M.G.S. Narayanan, eminent historian and former director of ICHR. In an earlier seminar held at Kochi in August 2011, Dr R. Nagaswamy, former Director of Archaeology, Tamil Nadu criticised the KCHR for its biased approach and hasty conclusions to establish some hidden agenda at Pattanam. Dr. T. Satyamurthy, former Director, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was equally critical of the excavations and cautioned KCHR authorities against any hasty conclusions. Pattanam excavations form part of the Muziris Heritage Project (MHP) launched by the KCHR and headed by chairman Dr. K.N. Panikkar, former professor of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), and director Dr. P.J. Cherian, a modern historian who heads archaeological excavations. In a write up for Malayalam journal Mathrubhumi in 2014, Professor P.M. Rajan Gurukkal, historian and one of the members of the MHP arguing for Pattanam also admitted that the site was unfit for any archaeological excavation as the soil has been virtually tampered for various construction purposes and digging of wells leaving no space for stratigraphical analysis of the cultural remains which have agglomerated. Surprisingly until now, no historian or archaeologist or any professional body such as the ASI has come forward in defence of the KCHR or Pattanam. Even Professor Romila Thapar, one of the patrons of the MHP is virtually silent.


K. N. Panikkar


The site of Pattanam is located near Parur in Ernakulam District of Kerala. It was declared by the KCHR Muziris Heritage Project (MHP) that the aim of the MHP was to excavate and discover the lost settlement of Muziris, the ancient Chera capital on the Periyar River basin and hence named MHP. The geomorphology of Kodungallur, considered ancient Muziris, was examined by geologists K.K. Nair and C.S. Subrahmanyam in 1993 in the archaeological context, which revealed that the area has been completely disturbed and the habitation material deeply buried due to tectonic changes. The Malabar Coast has both submergent and emergent characteristics. The Periyar River which drains the region has a long history of frequent floods due to heavy monsoons.

In the beginning, the excavations at Pattanam sailed smoothly. But controversies started after the excavators claimed that an ancient township at the cusp of first century BC and first century AD was unearthed at Pattanam archaeological site. Claims on the discovery of urban architectural remains at Pattanam were made by the excavator in various published papers and reports such as The Living Dead and the Lost Knowledge—2007 and 2008 published by Department of Culture, Government of Kerala, Journal of Indian Ocean Archaeology 2009-2010 and in the paper presented at ACIAS on November, 2011 at Thiruvananthapuram. It was declared by the KCHR director who is also the excavator that, Pattanam revealed interesting “early historic urban architectural features”.

The excavator claimed that the “urban, multicultural and maritime features are principal attributes” of Pattanam site. It was further asserted by the KCHR that the brick house comparable to a warehouse exposed near the wharf in trench PTO7 III included a platform (006) with postholes (67 in number) and brick walls belonging to at least three different phases. It was stated that the post holes do not show any particular pattern and were dug at various periods indicating repeated use for a long duration.

In the Journal of Indian Ocean Archaeology 2009-2010, the excavator claimed the presence of ancient civilisations at Pattanam. He also claimed Pattanam as an advanced metal working and stone cutting site with metal objects and lapidaries. Recently, the botanical remains claimed to have been unearthed from Pattanam were handed over to Spices Board in Kerala, a marketing and research institute for spices for palaeobotanical studies. Carbon 14 dating of remains from Pattanam are conducted by Georgia University. The ASI has been kept away and excavations are coordinated by foreign universities. Later, the director of KCHR Dr. P.J. Cherian admitted in The Hindu dated June 12 in 2011, Thiruvananthapuram edition that, “curiously, while large collections of artifacts were found, no remnants of major structures were discovered at the site”. In the KCHR Annual Report 2009-2010 there is neither reference to such urban architectural remains or photographs of trenches. Those who visited the site were unable to see any urban architectural remains.

In the KCHR brochure published in February 2008 on MHP and Pattanam excavations, chairman of KCHR, Professor K.N. Panikkar stated in his editorial note that archaeological and historical research are not solely meant for experts and professionals in the field. Everyone with thinking power should handle it. Later elaborating further, in an interview given to Frontline dated April 2010, Panikkar made his stand much clearer. He suggested public participation in archaeological excavations at Pattanam—which he termed “democratic archaeology”—in which the local people would be part of the excavation. In other words archaeologists and ASI need not interfere in excavations since guidelines and diggings shall be by “people’s democracy”. Keeping archaeologists at bay was a necessity for KCHR since expertise observations and remarks can lead to serious implications for Pattanam. Beyond all such serious lapses and incredible turnovers at Pattanam, what has raised eyebrows is the interference of JNU historians who were hastily propagating for Pattanam excavations to obtain it credibility in the academic world. Professor Kumkum Roy of JNU, in her Historical Dictionary of Ancient India published in 2009 has highlighted Pattanam stating that it has now been identified with ancient Muziris. Similarly Professor Ranabir Chakravarti of the JNU in his work, Exploring Early India published in 2010, brings Pattanam into focus. Roman amphorae from Pattanam are exhibited as evidence of Mediterranean trade. It is not a new discovery. There are a number of other sites in India which have provided remains of Roman amphorae. But here the intention raised suspicions due to later events.


P. J. Cherian (L)


What has now snowballed into a major controversy is the open declaration by KCHR director, Dr Cherian in the official bulletin of the Assyrian Church of the East on March 2011, that Pattanam has been identified as ancient Muziris, where Apostle Thomas landed in India 2000 years back for propagating Christianity, which he claims has been vindicated by the excavations. In 2011 July, he presented a paper on Pattanam archaeology at a seminar organised by Syro-Malabar Church in Mumbai. A major paper on St. Thomas tradition in southwest coastal region in India was presented by Dr Pius Malekkandathil, who is a reader at JNU. Earlier at Kakkanad near Kochi in 2005, Dr Pius Malekandathil presented his paper organised by the Liturgical Research Centre of the Syro-Malabar Church on the tradition of Apostle Thomas. Romila Thapar has put forward the arrival of Apostle Thomas as an outcome of Mediterranean trade links of India in her work—The Penguin History of Early India—published in 2002. In 2006, Professor Kumkum Roy was advisor to NCERT Textbook Development Committee along with chief advisor, Professor Neeladri Bhattacharya both from JNU.


Romila thapar


In the history textbook on social science for Class VI, they have included Muziris in the map of important trade routes without mentioning Pattanam and linking it with arrival of first Christian preachers in India.

Ranabir Chakravarti of JNU is one of the members of the NCERT Textbook Development Committee. Assertive claims by KCHR authorities in establishing historicity of Apostle Thomas has been supported by the stand of Utio Rai Chaudhary and Furley Richmond, academic directors of Georgia University in 2011 December. They stated that researches are being conducted by the Georgia University on links between St. Thomas tradition and Pattanam. Interestingly this university has undertaken Carbon 14 dating of the Pattanam site. Historian Istvan Perczel from Central European University, Hungary was invited in February 2008, for delivering a lecture by KCHR chairman Professor K.N. Panikkar former JNU luminary and the KCHR director on the topic—History of Kerala Christianity.

The February 2004 issue of Economic and Political Weekly has published an article on KCHR Family Archives Project by K. George Verghese. He has alleged that the KCHR Family Archives Project is virtually filled with histories of Syrian Christian families all highlighting arrival of Apostle Thomas at Muziris. The family history archives project was implemented prior to Pattanam excavations to provide a link.

With the Pattanam excavations thus taking a serious turn, Delhi based Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT) which had earlier attacked former ICHR chairman, Professor M.G.S. Narayanan in 2001 for raising serious allegations against the KCHR has virtually gone underground. Organisations which have currently come open against the KCHR and its Muziris Heritage Project have alleged that “these same historians who had earlier rebuffed Ramayana and Sri Ram as fictitious and fabricated are now digging for the bones of Apostle Thomas”.Organiser, 10 January 2015

› B.S. Harishankar is an author and senior archaeological researcher.


Ancient silk road route and water route to India from Rome