A 13th century stone inscription with Tamil and Mandarin scripts has been discovered in Quanzhou, an ancient port city in Fujiyan province, South East China, and it has been deciphered by an amateur archaeologist in Dindigul.
Archaeologist V Narayanamoorthy said that many people with archaeology as a common interest led by Orissa Balu, historian and Tamil researcher, had formed a group. There are over 110 members from over 100 countries in this group whose common interest is Tamil. WhatsApp was their main mode of communication, except for KiKi Zhang, alias Niraimadi, a lecturer from Yunnan Minzu university in China. She sent messages through email, which reached Narayanamoorthy.
A Tamil enthusiast, she had discovered the ancient inscription in Fujian province, which is a coastal region, through which global trade flourished in ancient times.
Narayanamoorthy, who is also a paleographist, was able to decipher some of the wordings. He was able to date the inscription to the 13th century as it matched the palaeography pertaining to that period.
Some of the letters have been damaged. After careful reading, he was able to determine the lines of a poem praising the king.
“It starts with the words, Hari Om and goes on to praise the greatness of Lord Shiva and seeks his blessings for the king,’’ he said, though there were some grammatical errors in the inscription.
He said that lines like the first stanza of the poem had been found in copper and palm leaf manuscripts, found in many parts of Tamil Nadu. Many poems of this type have a common beginning and later talk of different topics, he said.
A similar stone inscription dating back to 1281 AD was discovered in the same city about 70 years ago, which had information about a temple for Lord Shiva being built in the region and it was called Kaneeswaram.
This stone inscription too may have some connection to the temple, said Naryanamoorthy.
“What is outstanding in this inscription is that the Tamil writings are on top and the mandarin letters, which have withered away, at the bottom,’’ he said.
A treasure trove of Arab coins dating back some 1,000 years has been discovered in an old German cemetery near the Baltic coast.
Archaeologists have unearthed about a dozen items including one whole coin and many pieces of other coins
[Credit: Stowarzyszenie Eksploracyjne Na Rzecz Ratowania Zabytków im. św. Korduli/Facebook]
Archaeologists unearthed the rare find, which now comes to around 70 items, as they were carrying out routine work on the graveyard near the town of Kamień Pomorskie in north-west Poland, not far from the German border.
“After moving some foliage I noticed a grey object sticking out of the ground,” said Tomasz Rindfleiesch, from the team of archaeologists that discovered the treasure. “It turned out to be part of an Arab coin called a dirham. After a moment Mariusz [his colleague] noticed another one, this time in its entirety.
“Historians and treasure hunters know very well that one item could be treated as something lost, but discovering two set off warning lights in our heads that we were perhaps dealing with real treasure,” he added.
The team contacted the authorities and got permission to launch a formal dig on the site. So far they have unearthed about dozens items including one whole coin and many pieces of other coins.
|Detail of coin pieces [Credit: Stowarzyszenie Eksploracyjne Na Rzecz
Ratowania Zabytków im. św. Korduli/Facebook
It remains unclear how the coins came to be buried in the cemetery but they probably came to the region in the first place as a result of trade between various peoples of Europe and the Arab world.
Being silver the coins would have retained considerable value after the original transaction and as a consequence many were cut up into smaller amounts to make them handy for day-to-day purchases.
|The coins from Arabia date back to the times of the Ottoman empire [Credit: Stowarzyszenie Eksploracyjne
Na Rzecz Ratowania Zabytków im. św. Korduli/Facebook]
Along with the silver the team also dug up an ancient fragment of pottery with Slavic markings on it, and the remains of a German Mauser rifle dating back to the Second World War.
The coins will now be sent to experts for analysis who will determine their exact age and try and find out where they came from.
|Archaeologists discovered the rare find whilst carrying out routine work on the graveyard near the town
of Kamień Pomorskie in the north-west [Credit: Stowarzyszenie Eksploracyjne Na Rzecz
Ratowania Zabytków im. św. Korduli/Facebook]
The site of their discovery has also been secured and archaeologists are planning to dig deeper to see what else they can find.