Arikamedu

Arikamedu is an ancient Roman trade centre situated within a half hour drive of the French colonial town of Pondicherry.

Updated: June 16, 2022

Arikamedu is an ancient Roman trade centre situated within a half hour drive of the French colonial town of Pondicherry. Its name has been taken from the Tamil word- 'Arikanmedu' which means 'eroding mount'. This port town was occupied by the people of Rome, Cholas, and French serving as a very famous maritime centre from 1st century BC to 2nd century AD. In addition to maritime commerce, the city also carries out its domestic trade with Kaveripattinam, Alagankulam, Musiri and Suttukeni. Wines contained in amphora jars, cups and plates made up of red roman clay pots, olive oil, and ceramic products are mostly imported from the port.

Arikamedu was initially a fishing town and was later converted into a harbor town made up of bricks. This happened as the trade started to develop. You can find the remains of the famous port city now.

Arikamedu is famous for its glass bead manufacturing factory. The institution of Sir Mortimer Wheeler and French Jesuit Mission House are some of the excavations present here. The site also have numerous amphorae having the mark of the Roman schools including VIBII, Camuri and IITA present there. You can find the final few columns, bricks and mortars of the structure in ruins. 

The main site is a few minutes walk from the gate of the fence. There are two columns of Roman bricks which are assumed to be the gate and beyond that lie the remains of a structure which are presumed to be a storehouse based on architecture and structure. The area around is all green, typical to the scenery of Tamil Nadu, lined with coconut and palm trees on both sides. You might find two different types of brick structure in the place. This is because in the 1770s, a French missionary, Monsieur Pigneau de Behaine, designated Bishop of Adran, built a seminary and residence for the Jesuit refugees of Siam. It was abandoned by 1783, but some of the remains of the renovations done by the French remain here, mixed with the earlier ones.

As there is not much to see except taking in the vintage ambience of the past, it does not attract much tourism and thus is an ideal place if you love to explore old.  

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