Find out more…

The members of this research network are currently working to produce a two-volume study of the Kollam plates that will make them more accessible to scholars and students in other disciplines, as well as to a more general public. The volumes, edited by Elizabeth Lambourn, Kesavan Veluthat and Roberta Tomber, are scheduled to be published in 2015 with Primus Books.

In the meantime, here are some of the more accessible discussions which also include detailed bibliographies:


… about the medieval Indian Ocean …

This is still a very specialised area of research although there are now some accessible chapters and more general books. See in particular:

Michael Pearson, The Indian Ocean. Abingdon (Oxon.): Routledge, 2003. 
A very concise history of the Indian Ocean from prehistory to the present, see especially Chapter Four, “Muslims in the Indian Ocean.”

Abdul Sherrif, Dhow Cultures of the Indian Ocean. Cosmopolitanism, Commerce and Islam. London: Hurst and Company, 2010. 
This is highly recommended as one of the most accessible and more sophisticated treatments of the medieval Indian Ocean environment and its communities.

G. S. P. Freeman-Grenville ed., The Book of the Wonders of India. Mainland, Sea and Islands. London and The Hague: East-West Publications, 1981.
Since this 1981 translation new research on a number of manuscripts held in Istanbul libraries has revealed that the collection of stories commonly known as the Book of the Wonders of India and widely believed to have been written by a sea captain known as Buzurg ibn Shariyar Ramhormuzi were not composed by him at all. We now know that they were gathered in Cairo in the 960s or 970s CE by a scholar named Abu Imran Musa ibn Rabah al-Awsi al-Sirafi under the title Al-Sahih min Akhbar al-Bahr wa- ‘Aja’ibiha. Irrespective of their authorship, these stories offer a taste of the colorful world of trade, folklore and seamanship that characterized the medieval Indian Ocean.

The Indian Ocean in World History is a free online resource focusing on the rich history and culture of the region. It presents over 400 primary source entries including documents, artifacts, information about travelers, commodities, geographic features, routes and technologies.

The Jewel of Muscat website provides videos, photographs and information about the reconstruction of a 9th century Arab ship, and its historic voyage from Oman to Singapore.

… about the Kollam plates…

The copper plates from Kollam have been known to western scholars since the early 19th century and over that time they have been given many different names. Besides being known as the Kollam plates, they have been called the Sthanu Ravi plates, after the Cera ruler under whom these privileges were issued, the Tarisapalli or Tharisapalli plates, after the name of the church which was endowed, and even by the Latin phrase “Tabulae Quilonensis.” Many of these publications are extremely technical, epigraphic studies focusing on the terminology and palaeography (letter forms) of the texts but some of the more readable options are given below.

Pius Malekandathil, Maritime India. Trade, Religion and Polity in the Indian Ocean. Delhi: Primus Books, 2010.
See especially Chapter Three, “Dynamics of Economy, Social Processes and the pre-Portuguese Christians of India, 800-1500.”

M. G. S. Narayanan, Perumals of Kerala. Political and Social Conditions of Kerala under the Cera Perumals of Makotai (c. AD 800-AD 1124). Thrissur (Kerala, India): Cosmobooks, 2013.
Multiple references and citations (see Index under Tarisappalli and Kollam).


… about Eastern Christianity and Christianity in India …

Christoph Baumer, The Church of the East. An Illustrated History of Assyrian Christianity. London: I. B. Tauris, 2006. 
See especially pages 25-31 and 235-47.

Stephen Neil, A History of Christianity in India: The Beginnings to AD 1701. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984.