The Kerala Council of Historical Research's (KCHR) 'Pattanam excavations' near here to identify ancient Indo-Roman port of Muziris on the state's coast has been hit by a controversy with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) initiating a probe into alleged unscientific approaches adopted by the Council.
The probe is being conducted on the basis of a complaint made by Sangh outfit Bharatheeya Vichara Kendram (BVK) to the Union Cultural Affairs Minister Mahesh Sharma about "lapses" in the excavation, which is part of Rs 200 crore Muziris heritage project, a letter from ASI sent to BVK director (academic) K M Madhusudanan Pillai, said.
In its complaint, the BVK has alleged that the excavators have been giving contradictory statements on archaeological finds in media and quite different versions in articles published in journals and KCHR reports.
BVK officials said Superintendent Archaeologist K Amarnath of the ASI, Bengaluru centre, has started investigation into the Pattanam excavations, which were the first ever multi-disciplinary excavations undertaken in Kerala.
On the instruction of ASI, BVK's C I Isac deposed before the investigation team and gave a statement, they said.
BVK, headed by P Parameswaran, says archaeologists and historians had come forward against "the collective conspiracy and propaganda to claim that Pattanam was the ancient Muziris". They have also pointed out lapses in protecting the monuments excavated and scientifically analysing the details, BVK said.
"They have complained against the illegal intervention of foreigners in the excavation project and efforts at linking Pattanam excavation and Muziris heritage project," it said.
Based on the complaints, a meeting of the central advisory panel of the ASI held on September 12 and 13 last year asked the KCHR to temporarily stop the excavation.
There was no immediate reaction from the KCHR.
The site of Pattanam is located at Paravur in Ernakulam district.