南インドとタイ 古代より海でつながる

A.D.2世紀のタイの遺跡からタミル-ブラフミ文字が刻まれた土器片が発見されました。南インド特有の文字でタイと交流があったことを示しており、船を使ったものと考えられています。以前から交流があったことが知られていましたが、このような物的証拠はさらにこれを確実なものとする証拠で貴重な発見といえます。また、似たような発見はエジプトの紅海沿岸でもなされており、古代インド人がインド洋を舞台に東南アジアからエジプト・アフリカまで壮大な海上貿易を繰り広げていた事が伺えます。

A unique Tamil-Brahmi Inscription on pottery of the second century AD has recently been excavated in Thailand.

A Thai-French team of archaeologists, led by Dr. Bérénice Bellina of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France, and Praon Silpanth, Lecturer, Silpakorn University, Thailand, has discovered a sherd of inscribed pottery during their current excavations at Phu Khao Thong in Thailand.

At the request of the archaeologists, Iravatham Mahadevan, an expert in Tamil Epigraphy, has examined the inscription. He has confirmed that the pottery inscription is in Tamil and written in Tamil-Brahmi characters of about the second century AD. Only three letters have survived on the pottery fragment. They read tu Ra o… , possibly part of the Tamil word turavon meaning `monk.’

The presence of the characteristic letter Ra confirms that the language is Tamil and the script is Tamil-Brahmi. It is possible that the inscription recorded the name of a Buddhist monk who travelled to Thailand from Tamil Nadu. This is the earliest Tamil inscription found so far in South East Asia and attests to the maritime contacts of the Tamils with the Far East even in the early centuries AD.

Prof. Richard Salomon of the University of Washington, U.S., an expert in Indian Epigraphy, has made the following comment on the inscription:

“I am happy to hear that the inscription in question is in fact Tamil-Brahmi, as I had suspected. This is important, among other reasons, because it presents a parallel with the situation with Indian inscriptions in Egypt and the Red Sea area. There we find both Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions and standard-Brahmi insciptions; and we now see the same in Vietnam and South-East Asia. This indicates that the overseas trade between India to both the West and the East involved people from the Tamil country and also other regions.”

Iravatham Mahadevan adds: “Already we know of the existence of a touchstone engraved in Tamil in the Tamil-Brahmi script of about the third or fourth century AD found in Thailand and presently kept in a museum in the ancient port city of Khuan Luk Pat in Southern Thailand. There is every hope that the ongoing excavations of the Thai-French team will bring up more evidence of ancient contacts between India and Thailand.”

引用元:http://www.hindu.com/2006/07/16/stories/2006071603952000.htm

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