THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Call it an attempt to call a spade a spade. A fellow of the Indian Council for Historical Research (ICHR) has come out with a book questioning the Kerala Council for Historical Research’s (KCHR) alleged efforts to present a distorted picture of the findings in the Pattanam excavations.
B S Harishankar’s ‘Pattanam: Constructs, Contexts and Interventions’ questions KCHR’s alleged attempts to connect myths and history in the excavations at Pattanam near Kodungallur. The book also traces the involvement of Euro-American scholars at the site of the dig while keeping aside the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and Indian universities.
In his book, Harishankar says how foreign scholars have never been associated with other Indian archaeological excavations.
It questions the relevance of Pattanam for them and goes on to say how the Ministry of Home Affairs cancelled the licences of 20 NGOs in Kerala - including the KCHR - under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act 2010.
The author argues if KCHR digs any site with Euro-American collaboration, it cannot be designated a city.
“There are certain precursors to urbanism in early historic India and it is evident from archaeological remains,” Harishankar says in his book. “They include immense size, internal planning, public architecture, settlement hierarchies, enclosing walls, script, craft specialisation, long-distance trade, subsistence strategies and population growth. Has KCHR put forward any of these pieces of evidences to substantiate its claims of Pattanam being an urban site/township/port city or civilisation?”
The book also mentions how KCHR recently presented ‘a fake argument’ about Pattanam being an archaeological mound. “Numerous archaeological sites in western India have provided evidence like ramparts, which were mud embankments to prevent flood. But no such evidence has been found at Pattanam. The fake claim was to stress Pattanam was an archaeological site,” it says.
Harisankar goes on to explain how the site at Pattanam in lower Periyar has coastal alluvium with sand and clay, lacking laterite formation or thick soil. Hence, it was not preferred as an Iron Age settlement.
The book also says how monsoon rain and heavy floods over the centuries tampered with the cultural stratigraphy, making it unfit for any excavation.