An Awesome History Of The Lost Indian City That Traded With Romans

Roman ruins
Archaeologists have found Roman lamps and Roman glass items, among other things at the site near Puducherry. (Image used for representative purpose)

Want to have a glimpse of Rome? Visit Arikamedu, the only city with an archaeological record of Roman presence in India. Famous for manufacturing amazing bead jewelry, the glass beads site here was considered as the “mother of all bead centers” in the world. Know more about this lesser explored place of India.
Do you know that there is a small town in India which will give you an experience of Rome? Arikamedu, an archaeological site in Kakkayanthope, Puducherry will give you a glimpse of Roman culture in our very own backyard. It was formerly a major Chola port dedicated to bead making and trading with Roman traders and was believed to be the only town to have ties with Rome.
Arikamedu, which means “eroding mud”, is located at around seven kilometres from Pondicherry.
Various Roman artifacts like containers bearing the mark of Roman potter schools VIBII, CAMURI and ITTA have been found here, which support the claims that there was trade between Rome and ancient Tamil India.

Arikamedu proves the presence of Roman and ancient Tamil trade relations. Photo Courtesy: Jayaseerlourdhuraj / Wikipedia
Arikamedu proves the presence of Roman and ancient Tamil Indian trade relations. Photo Source: Wikipedia

The city is located along the beautiful Ariyankuppam river and is believed to be the only city with an archaeological record of Roman presence in India. Having started out as a fishing village, Arikamedu soon became a unique bead-making site as it manufactured beads made of both stone and glass.
Various textiles, beads, terracotta artifacts and gold and semi precious jewellery were exported to Greco Roman ports and other countries in the East from Arikamedu. Arikamedu’s glass bead making site was considered as “mother of all bead centers” in the world.
Wines in amphora jars, cups and plates of Terra Sigillata (fine red Roman clay pots) and other various ceramic products were imported by Tamil while products like beads, terracotta objects, glass, gems, plants, spices were exported.
Terra Sigillata tableware have been found only in two places outside of Roman Empire, one of them being Arikamedu, which is one of the things that marks the existence of trade between the two regions.

Ancient Roman pottery found in Arikamedu. Photo Courtesy: PHGCOM/ Wikipedia
Ancient Roman pottery found in Arikamedu. Photo Source: PHGCOM/ Wikipedia

Discovered in the 1930’s, the town was excavated three times in the 1940’s. The excavation credit of this place is often given to Mortimer Wheeler in 1945 as he was the most known archaeologist associated with it. But, according to this report in The Hindu, the ancient city was first excavated by French archaeologist residing at Pondicherry, Jouveau Dubreuil, and Dr. A. Aiyappan, the Superintendent of the Government Museum in Madras, four years before Wheeler came there. (continue reading. at https://www.thebetterindia.com/15551/indians-trade-site-with-ancient-romans-arikamedu-travel-pondicherry/ )

Do we really believe that there was an entire Roman settlement in India? How far is India from Italy on foot?

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