ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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From 50 Years Ago: The Ambari Ruins

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An official of the Archaeological Survey of India visited the Ambari site at Gauhati last month and collected data for preliminary investigation. The excavation which was started in March is, according to him, yielding some results. The first-phase finds include a pottery piece, found at a depth of four feet on the western trench and identified by some as indigenous rouletted ware…

The rouletted piece may be a distinct souvenir of Romano-Assamese cultural and social contacts. The ancient Pragjyotispura was on the historical Sino-Roman trade route across north-east India during the period between 126 BC and 120 AD. The Chinese annal, the Hon Han Shou, and the one by Ssuma Chien confirm this. Not only Roman traders but Roman musicians and jesters came to China by this route. According to Chinese accounts, the traders took with them tortoise shells, rhinoceros horns and ivory to China as gifts for the emperor. The Roman or Romanised pottery pieces of Ambari can be safely linked with this trade. The land route along Bactria and North India seems to have been closed around the first century with the Parthian intervention which resulted in extensive use of the sea route.

An ancient geographical treatise, Periplus Maris Erythracei (“Navigation of the Red Sea”), written by an Egyptian Greek identified as a merchant from Berenice in 90 AD gives us an outline of the trade route. The names of coastal and riverine ports of Limyrica (Malabar), Camara (Travancore), Poduca (Pondicherry), Sopotma (Madras) and Masaulipattam (Andhra) are fairly correct, but the names become vague as they come to the Ganges further north-east. It is probable that eastern India was not properly explored at that time.

Updated On : 6th May, 2019

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