TGF comment: Goa and Karachi have the best natural harbours on the west coast of the subcontinent. Goa was used as the transit point for pilgrims to Mecca. TheMessage 1 of 1 , May 5, 2001View SourceTGF comment:
Goa and Karachi have the best natural harbours on the
west coast of the subcontinent. Goa was used as the
transit point for pilgrims to Mecca. The traffic in
the reverse direction also included Arabian horses for
the various princes of the time.
The finding of this cross with Persian links alerts us
once again that Goan genetics, infact genetics on the
entire west coast, is a potpourri of many peoples. It
also reveals that Christianity in Goa is more than a
mere 450 years old.
PS: several Malayalam newspapers have been carrying
this story since yesterday
Goa had links with Asian Christians 1400 yrs ago
Cross with Pahlavi inscription found at Agassaim
By Paul Fernandes
The 6th century cross found at Agassaim
An unique granite cross with an inscription in
Persia's Pahlavi language found at Dando, Agassaim by
a Pilar Society priest appears as a concrete piece of
evidence of Goa's links with Persian ports.
While famed traveller Ibn Batuta and St Francis Xavier
had referred to the presence of Christians in Goa, the
exciting find is perhaps clinching proof that the
Asian version of this faith was alive and throbbing
here, centuries before the Portuguese advent.
`Evidence of Christian presence in Goa could be found
in books,' says a visibly excited Fr Costa,'but this
is perhaps the first archaeological find to
The half-broken stone cross with Pahlavi inscriptions
- an archaic form of modern Persian - is among seven
others earlier found in Anirudhapuram in Sri Lanka,
Kottayam, Muttuchira, Kadamattam, Alengad and St
Thomas Church in Mylapore.
Adorned with a lotus pedestal and the Holy Spirit
descending on the cross, it was lying barely 500
metres west of the Zuari bridge and near St Peter's
Chapel within the disintegrating structure of another
cross, hidden by bushes and anthills.
`The cross has been standing for as long as we can
remember,' says Philip Dias, a resident of Dando,
The cross which also has Portuguese words added to it
at the lower end could be of the 6th century as it
bears a distinct likeness to the Mylapore specimen,
according to Prof John Everaert, a Belgian maritime
historian, who coincidentally attended the
international maritime seminar at Dona Paula last
Archaeologists view the cross which is two and half
feet in height, about one foot in breadth and six
inches in thickness as a `valuable find for Goa's
history' - a view shared by other historians who
attended the Goa University seminar. Prof Dr Lotika
Varadarajan felt that deeper paelographic study was
needed to determine its antiquity.
The discovery of the cross in the port area of
Gopakapattanam is indicative of the presence and
involvement of a strong mercantile community of
Christians from West Asia in the maritime trade of Goa
and is suggestive of early mercantile links of Goa's
former capital connecting the trade centres of
Mylapore, Sri Lanka and Kerala, where this community
operated along with the native St Thomas Christians,
says Dr Pius Malekandathil, a reader in history at Goa
The Christians from West Asia and their counterparts
of Malabar began to co-operate jointly on commercial
matters from the time of Ardashir, who defeating the
Parthians in 224 AD laid the foundation not only for
Sassanid dynasty in Persia but also for their
trans-oceanic trade with India by founding or
re-founding eight ports in the Arabian Gulf.
The West Asian Christians are believed to have set up
mercantile colonies in association with the St Thomas
Christians who also settled down in Goa. According to
H O Mascarenhas, they were called Thomase and were
largely Hindus who followed a few Catholic customs.
Though the cross later passed through Portuguese
hands, the ancient inscription was not tampered with
and Portuguese words `A de S (Sao) Tome (...)de Illes
(Ilhas?) 642 (1642?) were added at the base.
Noted historian Prof George Moraes in his book A
History of Christianity says that many of these
Christian traders may have been absorbed into the
Europeanised version of Christianity after their
association with the Portuguese.
Fr Costa has a hunch that the remaining part of the
cross which some feel was done in Goa, may lie buried
in shallow depths of Zuari river. Many other broken
granite stones lie strewn near the chapel.
Were the Christian settlers in Gopakapattanam purely
West Asian or indigenous? Perhaps, they were largely
West Asian and later indigenous Christians from
Malabar came here, according to an expert view.
Waves lapping the banks of Zuari seem to whisper tales
of the past grandeur of this port capital. Perhaps,
more evidence lies beneath soil of its banks and its
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