The Roman empire stretched from the Atlantic coast to the Near East, from the shores of Africa to northern England. It may surprise you to learn they had a trading post in India. Originally founded by the Greeks, this post traded with Indians and Romans for about 200 years, from roughly the 1st century BC to the 2nd century AD. Eventually, it was conquered by the Romans.
Silk Road Trading
Archaeologists believe this was a stop on the Silk Road as well as a major seaport, as evidenced by the remains of an ancient harbor. Major imports to Arikamadu included wine and olive oil from Rome. Exports heading back included glass and stone beads, semi-precious gems, and glass and shell bangles. Artifacts found at the site suggest a wide array of goods were exchanged, though beads seem to have been one of if not the most popular commodity. In fact, beads were so plentiful that locals claim you can still find beads on the nearby beaches after a heavy rain.
Grey pottery with engravings found at Arikamedu. Photo Credit: By PHGCOM – self-made photographed at Musee Guimet, 2007, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3598599
World Heritage Site
Arikamedu has been proposed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has contributed much to the understanding of cultural exchange in the ancient world. One of the most significant historical finds at the site, aside from the popular glass beads, are black and red megalithic stones known as Pandukal, Tamil for “old stones.” These structures have been used as grave markers prior to the Roman occupation and represent an important part of the Tamil region’s history.
HOW TO GET THERE
Arikamedu is only a 12-minute car ride from central Pondicherry. It is also accessible by walking 4.4 km, about an hour. Flights to Pondicherry are available through Sky Bird Travel & Tours. We’re partnered with over 90 airlines, so no matter their city of departure, we can get your clients there. As a top airfare consolidator, Sky Bird Travel has the lowest net fares to India. Call or email us today to get started!
Are your clients looking for something off the beaten path? Are they not interested in tourist traps? Stay tuned for our Around the World series. Several times a week, we share interesting things to do in exotic places. Give your clients a new experience in old places!