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Roman Maps and the Concept of Indian Gems

Gallery Tour, page 4 of 6.

Figure Four: More Romancing of the Stone

    Punnata (?) in which is beryl. Upper center.

    Carura regia Cerotothri
    (Karur, capital of the Chera) Left center

Punnata has never been identified, but wherever it was, it was not where the beryl came from. Beryl (emerald is a deeply colored beryl) was greatly favored by the Romans. Its natural hexagonal crystalline structure was retained and the stone drilled lengthwise to make a bead.

Along with pearls, beryls were extremely popular. Beryl was the hardest gemstone the Romans regularly used. However, as explained in the last page, the true source for beryls and their working was at Kodumanal, just past Muziris through an easy gap in the Western Ghats.

Is this another bit of Indian disinformation? "Oh beryls! They're far up this river and then Punnata is not even on a river. Punnata and its beryls are hard to reach." And if the Romans ever did try to go up the river they didn't get very far, hence the name Pseudostomatus.

Moreover, there is no mention of the pearl beads at the southern end of the peninsula. Gee, didn't the Indians tell the Romans where they fished for them? We know all these things were sold at Muziris, but where they came from was a well-guarded secret. Does the pattern look familiar?

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