Situated at the mouth of the Ariyankuppam River, Arikamedu is derived from the Tamil word Arikanmedu. Archeologists called the site Arikamedu, which literally means "Eroding Mount". The port town was inhabited by Romans, Cholas and French and evidence of their stay have been unearthed in the port town. Arikamedu started off as a fishing village but with the development of trade, the village was replaced by a brick built harbour town. Today, only ruins remain of the once thriving port town. Besides maritime commerce, evidence has also been unearthed of inland trade with Kaveripattinam, Alagankulam, Musiri and Suttukeni along river valley routes.