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UK researchers study Kollam Christians' copper plates

Jan. 20, 2014

History of pre-European Christianity in India may get new depths when researchers next year publish their findings on ancient copper plates given to Kollam Christians.

The research project was led by De Montfort University in collaboration with the British Museum and was funded by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council, says a website on the copper plates.

The project gathered a multidisciplinary team of thirty scholars from ten different countries to collaborate on new interpretations of the plates issued to Christians in the ancient port city of Kollam.

The results of these meetings will be published in 2015 with Primus Books and will include a new edition and English translation of the Kollam plates, it said.

The website presents some of the new research that is being undertaken at universities and museums around the world into the early history of the Indian Ocean and its connections to the ocean we know today.

The research focuses on a 9th century legal document which was written at the port of Kollam in present-day Kerala in 849 CE.

In South Asia, even until very recently, legal documents were inscribed onto copper sheets. Known as copper plate grants, these are one of the main sources for early and medieval Indian history.

The copper plates from Kollam contain a huge amount of information about daily life in this Indian Ocean port in the 9th century CE.

The website said Indian Ocean was among the first maritime spaces of human circulation but history knows very little about life on its shores before the late 15th century when European powers – Portuguese, Spanish, English, Dutch and others – first sailed into this ocean.

The research is expected to throw new lights into the history of Christianity in Asia, particularly in southern India.

Source: UCAN

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