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Sigiriya, an ancient wonder of Sri Lanka was designated as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1982, due to its universal value

Truth behind the Prison cell of the last King in Colombo Fort

The Prison cell of the last King of Kandy, King Sri Wickrama Rajasingha in Colombo fort is a somewhat well-known monument. Although most individuals working in the Fort area do not notice it, it is a famous destination for tourists. It is situated within the premises of the Ceylinco House building down Janadipathi Mawatha (Queen’s Street) at the turn off to Bank of Ceylon Mawatha. The aim of this article is to see if this is really the prison cell of the last King or something else; as there appear currently two traditions to this story, a common tradition and an academic tradition.

Highway System in Ancient Sri Lanka

Historical information about the ancient road network of Sri Lankais restricted to random records encountered in historical documents and also to information recorded as a result of research carried out during the British administration. This study is based on a recent research conducted with special attention towards the technical aspects of the ancient road system and it's expansion over the island. An attempt is also made to reconstruct the road system that existed from thethird century BC up to 13th century AD.

Important Inscriptions of Sri Lanka: Part 01

Inscriptions are an important source of information of the past in any civilization, and in that, Sri Lanka is fortunate to have a very large number of inscriptions from the earliest years of the Sinhalese civilization down to the Kandyan times. These various inscriptions, inscribed on stone and metal have aided the historian well, in complimenting and supplementing the already voluminous literature works. Sri Lanka’s inscriptions vary from scribbling of few words, to donations to clergy and to royal edicts and charters.

Editor Picks

Truth behind the Prison cell of the last King in Colombo Fort

The Prison cell of the last King of Kandy, King Sri Wickrama Rajasingha in Colombo fort is a somewhat well-known monument. Although most individuals working in the Fort area do not notice it, it is a famous destination for tourists. It is situated within the premises of the Ceylinco House building down Janadipathi Mawatha (Queen’s Street) at the turn off to Bank of Ceylon Mawatha. The aim of this article is to see if this is really the prison cell of the last King or something else; as there appear currently two traditions to this story, a common tradition and an academic tradition.
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Books

Book Review: Anubudhu Mihindu Mahimi – Mihindhu High Priest-The Second Buddha

Anubudhu Mihidhu Mahahimi is a much-awaited biography on the Arahath Mahinda who was instrumental in introducing Buddhism to our island.

Ethno Rock Art: A case study Kaimur, Bihar – Sachin Kumar Tiwary

By Sachin Kumar Tiwary Ethno rock art can provide insights of value to Archaeoscientists into how people in the past may have lived, especially with regard...

Urban Origins in Southern Sri Lanka – Doctoral thesis of Prof. Raj Somadewa

This study focuses upon the development of urbanisation in southern Sri Lanka during the proto, early and late historical periods c. 900 BC onwards.

Archaeological Surveys

Archaeological Sites around Dimbulagala: Part 02

By Chryshane Mendis Pulligoda Pulligoda is a small cave containing paintings of the Anuradhapura period situated on a small rock outcrop several hundred meters from the...

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Colonial Heritage

Fortifications and the Landscape: A GIS Inventory and Mapping of Kandyan and Dutch Fortifications in Sri Lanka

Fortifications and the Landscape: A GIS Inventory and Mapping of Kandyan and Dutch Fortifications in Sri Lanka Extended Abstract H.M. Chryshane Mendis Master’s thesis MA Landscape and Heritage...

Truth behind the Prison cell of the last King in Colombo Fort

The Prison cell of the last King of Kandy, King Sri Wickrama Rajasingha in Colombo fort is a somewhat well-known monument. Although most individuals working in the Fort area do not notice it, it is a famous destination for tourists. It is situated within the premises of the Ceylinco House building down Janadipathi Mawatha (Queen’s Street) at the turn off to Bank of Ceylon Mawatha. The aim of this article is to see if this is really the prison cell of the last King or something else; as there appear currently two traditions to this story, a common tradition and an academic tradition.

Sailing Ships and Temple walls

As stated at the beginning of the paper, the work so far carried out is not conclusive. There remains much to be done. For example, it would be useful to compare this graffiti with the drawings of ships shown in Dutch period maps of Ceylon, India and Indonesia. In addition, any dates arrived at with regard to the wall paintings on which the graffiti had been drawn, would have to be taken into consideration. In conclusion it is wished to invite scholars with specialist knowledge to build upon the foundation laid and carry this fascinating line of inquiry further.

Whatever happened to the King’s mother?

By Somasiri Devendra and Prof. Sarath Edirisinghe Questions, and an Answer   Like so many good things, what follows is a spin-off  from the “Ceylankan”. Last year Devendra...

The Fortress of Colombo: What else remains?

My research into the remains of the Fort of Colombo led me to identify 7 locations in total which all belongs to the Dutch built fort. The previous article dealt with my identification of 3 sections of the Dutch fort lying within the Navy Headquarters; that is the entire Dan Briel bastion, the Postern gate known as the Slave port and sections of the rampart from Dan Briel bastion to Amsterdam bastion. In this article I would discuss the remaining 4 locations.

Excavations
Latest

Archaeological Milestones in Sri Lanka: Part 02

This article series would sum up some of the most important events in the journey of Sri Lankan Archaeology, milestones which changed the way we think of the past, the way we know the past and the way we see and protect the past. Milestones in Sri Lanka archaeology would include important discoveries to institutional and policy establishments, which, has helped the field to progress to the present and helped expand our understanding of the past.

An Archaeological Study on the Kaduruwela Fortress

The main objective was to create a scale drawing of the architectural feature identified from Satellite images using the data taken from a field survey of the area. The secondary objective being the proper identification of the site using the archaeological evidence from the excavations.

Two Arabic Epigraphs found from the Ambalangoda Harbour

The great Chronicles Mahavamsha and Sandesa kavviya (messenger poems) had not mentioned about the activities of the ancient harbor at Ambalangoda. Thisara Sandesaya (1344-1359 AD) (Gunawardane, 2001 p. 1), Parevi Sandesaya (After 1415 AD) have described the coastal areas of the Southern province near Ambalangoda in their poems. Kalutota, Maggona, Beruwala, Aluthgama, Kosgoda, Bentota, Welitota (Balapitiya), Madampamodara, Totagamuwa, Rathgama mentioned in Thisara and Parevi sandesyas (Jayatilake, 2002 pp. 97, 101, 102, 103, 104, 107, 108, 109, 113; Gunawardane, 2001 pp. 101, 103, 107, 108, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116). However, one notable thing is the name “Ambalangoda” has not mentioned in this Sandesas.

Excavating Alugalge: archaeology.lk visits the excavations of the prehistoric site

By Chryshane Mendis Excavation of the prehistoric site cave of Alugalge is conducted by the Field Archaeology Unit of the Postgraduate Institute of Archaeology (PGIAR)...

Study of Holocene hunter-gatherers in Sri Lanka : towards a regional model

The archaeological project titled 'Hunters in Transition' initiated in the year 2009 focuses the Holocene adaptations of the prehistoric hunter-gatherers occupied in the deep mountainous hinterland in Sri Lanka.

Inscriptions

Annaikoṭṭai Seal: Is it Tamil Brāhmī? – By Prasad Fonseka

A team of researchers from the Jaffna University launched archaeological excavation of a megalithic burial site at Annaikoṭṭai in Jaffna Peninsula which commenced in 1980. In 1981 the discoverer of a steatite seal with a Brāhmī inscription and some other symbols was a significant milestone. The first attempt to decipher was done by Dr Kartigesu Indrapala of the Jaffna University. His reading was kovetem, which denotes the chief or king. However, overall it was considered as a Tamil Inscription and furthermore a Tamil Brāhmī inscription.

Important Inscriptions of Sri Lanka: Part 01

Inscriptions are an important source of information of the past in any civilization, and in that, Sri Lanka is fortunate to have a very large number of inscriptions from the earliest years of the Sinhalese civilization down to the Kandyan times. These various inscriptions, inscribed on stone and metal have aided the historian well, in complimenting and supplementing the already voluminous literature works. Sri Lanka’s inscriptions vary from scribbling of few words, to donations to clergy and to royal edicts and charters.

The depository of Tooth Relic during the Cōḷa Occupation of Anuradhapura?

During the period of Cōḷa occupation in the early eleventh century, it is likely that the two Relics, namely the Tooth Relic and the Bowl Relic were permanently kept in the Uttaramūla Vihāra of the Abhayagiri Monastery. Perhaps during the Anuradhapura Period, the Relics were more respected and were not considered as objects, to legitimize kingship as suggested by some scholars. As a result, they were removed by the monks from the Temple of Tooth Relic only when there was no security. Perhaps during the early part of Anuradhapura Period when there was a threat, the Relics which were kept near the palace were taken to Abhayagiri Vihāra. During the latter part of Anuradhapura Period, the Relics appear to have been kept permanently at Uttaramūla of the Abhayagiri Vihāra, protected by hired guards.
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Heritage Management

Kotte Heritage 4: Veherakanda

The historic 15th century Capital city of Kotte, founded as a fortress against the Arya Chakravarithi of Jaffna and made into a fortified city and administrative center by King Parakramabahu VI was the last Capital city to rule over a unified Sri Lanka until independence. Being the Capital, this city would have flourished with mansions of the royalty and nobility, great religious monuments of the Buddhist Viharas, dwellings of the common people and buildings of trade and commerce; the local literary sources such as the Sandesha Kavyas and the accounts of the foreigners such as the Portuguese describe this magnificent city in all its glory. Yet what remains at present is a fraction of what it was during its heyday. The previous articles in this series have discussed the various remains of the fortifications of Kotte. The present article explores yet another prominent monument known to many in Kotte; the Veherakanda ruins in Baddegana.

Kotte Heritage 3: The Bastions and Passes

Passes and bastions are important elements of fortifications. The Passes, large and small give access to and from a fort and at times of war would be heavily guarded. Bastions are fortified projections on the ramparts of a fort from which defenders could easily defend the rampart as well as attack enemies due to its wide angle of fire. The fortress of Kotte was equipped with both these elements.

Prehistory of Sri Lanka

These are some popular articles on our website.

Prehistory of Sri Lanka 6: Paleolithic period

The name Paleolithic simply means the Older Stone Age. As stated in the first article in this series, several periods within the prehistoric period can be identified. The common feature of these periods is the use of stone implements. In this way based on the development of stone implements, several periods could be identified. Accordingly the Paleolithic period can be identified with the early developmental stage of stone implements. This article would deal with this first prehistoric period and its development in Sri Lanka.

Prehistory of Sri Lanka 7 : the Pleistocene flora and fauna of Ratnapura

At 65,610 km2 Sri Lanka is one of the large islands in the Indian Ocean and during the Pleistocene epoch studies have shown that the island was joined to the mainland of the Indian Subcontinent. Due to the cold temperatures of this epoch the scattered glaciers caused the water level to fall and thus much of the places under water today was land during this time. Due to the drop in sea levels Sri Lanka and India was combined for the last time about 7,000 years ago. During the last 500,000 years the island was joined with the Indian mainland several times. According to some scientists during the past 1 million years the two lands were one landmass for most of the time. When the sea level fell approximately 70 meters, Sri Lanka and India was connected by a land bridge of about 100 km in width. Thus this land bridge caused species to inter-migrate between the two lands.

Fa Hien-Lena Prehistoric Cave – Earliest Modern Humans From South Asia

Fa Hien-lena, one of the largest habitable rock shelters in Sri Lanka, is situated in south-western Sri Lanka, at Yatagampitiya of the small township of Bulathsinhala near Horana in the Kalutara District, approximately 75 km southeast of Colombo (80 12’ 55” E 6 38’ 55” N). Popular belief has it that the famed Chinese Buddhist monk Fa Hien sojourned there while on his pilgrimage to Adam’s Peak.

Prehistory of Sri Lanka 5: the modern period of Prehistoric research in Sri Lanka

When looking at the history of prehistoric research in Sri Lanka, the last stage could be considered as the modern period which began from 1969. When going through the prehistoric explorations conducted during this period and their findings, it could be stated as the golden age of prehistoric research in Sri Lanka. The archaeological excavations and analysis methods was revolutionized by Dr. Siran Deraniyagala in 1969 with the excavations of the near Image house (Gedige) of the Citadel area of Anuradhapura, which could be seen as the inaugural step into this modern period.

Archaeology.lk interviews Dr. H. Nimal Perera

Dr.H. Nimal Perera Halawathage Nimal Perera, born on the 23rd of December 1953 is a prominent prehistorian of Sri Lanka and was the former Director...

Bibliographies

In loving memory of Dr. Roland Silva, a pillar of Sri Lankan Archaeology

Deshamanya Vidya Jyothi Dr. Roland Silva is one of the foremost Asian experts in the conservation of historical monuments and sites and one of Sri Lanka’s most prominent archaeologists. He was the former Commissioner of Archaeology (1983-1990) and the Founder Director General of the Central Cultural Fund that implemented the UNESCO-Sri Lanka Project of the Cultural Triangle, former Chancellor of the University of Moratuwa, former President of the World Body of Conservators, the first international president of ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) from Asia (1990-1999) and UNESCO Chair and the founder President of The National Trust Sri Lanka.

20th Century Historians: Rev. Fr. S G Perera

The student of the colonial history of Sri Lanka has undoubtedly come upon the name of S. G. Perera in their studies. Fr. S. G. Perera, a Catholic Priest of the Society of Jesus was an exemplary scholar of the last century and whose parallels are unheard of. Publishing over a dozen books and over 300 articles in journals, his contributions to the history of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka and the history of the Portuguese, Dutch and British periods of the island have aided the development of historical knowledge to a great extent in Sri Lanka; what could be called his magnum opus, the translation of the ‘Conquista’ of the 17th century Portuguese historian Fr. Queyroz, is the single most important Portuguese literary work which is the basis for any historical study on the Portuguese period. His proficiency of the Portuguese language gave him access to numerous original sources which he has translated and made available to the public is part of the wonderful legacy of this great historian of Lanka.

20th Century Historians : D.W. Ferguson

Historical researches undoubtedly require reference to original sources; at present much of the original literature on Sri Lanka both local and foreign have been reproduced and translated into the present vernacular. This tedious task has no doubt aided the modern student of history to dig through original works of literature with much ease. Contributions of Donald William Ferguson in the areas of Portuguese history are a landmark in scholarship in the country and there is scarcely a student or writer of Sri Lankan history who has not benefited by the penetrating researches of Donald Ferguson.

Field Archaeology
Latest

Maritime Archaeological Study on Cowry Shells (Monetaria moneta) that discovered from the Ancient Harbour Ambalangoda

The main objective of this research is to explicate the significance of Cowry Shells (Monetaria moneta) that discovered from the Ancient Harbour of Ambalangoda which located at No 85 –Patabandimulla Grama Niladari Division (GND) of Ambalangoda Secretariat Division (SD), Galle District (06 14 104 N - 080 03 127 E); through the collected data from field research (studying existing collection, collecting samples, lab analysis) and library survey methods. According to the investigations carried out by the groups of Archaeology, Maritime archaeology and non-archaeology (1998, 2007 and 2012) have been unearthed a number of Cowry shells with other artefacts.

Sailing Ships and Temple walls

As stated at the beginning of the paper, the work so far carried out is not conclusive. There remains much to be done. For example, it would be useful to compare this graffiti with the drawings of ships shown in Dutch period maps of Ceylon, India and Indonesia. In addition, any dates arrived at with regard to the wall paintings on which the graffiti had been drawn, would have to be taken into consideration. In conclusion it is wished to invite scholars with specialist knowledge to build upon the foundation laid and carry this fascinating line of inquiry further.

Two Arabic Epigraphs found from the Ambalangoda Harbour

The great Chronicles Mahavamsha and Sandesa kavviya (messenger poems) had not mentioned about the activities of the ancient harbor at Ambalangoda. Thisara Sandesaya (1344-1359 AD) (Gunawardane, 2001 p. 1), Parevi Sandesaya (After 1415 AD) have described the coastal areas of the Southern province near Ambalangoda in their poems. Kalutota, Maggona, Beruwala, Aluthgama, Kosgoda, Bentota, Welitota (Balapitiya), Madampamodara, Totagamuwa, Rathgama mentioned in Thisara and Parevi sandesyas (Jayatilake, 2002 pp. 97, 101, 102, 103, 104, 107, 108, 109, 113; Gunawardane, 2001 pp. 101, 103, 107, 108, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116). However, one notable thing is the name “Ambalangoda” has not mentioned in this Sandesas.

New Maritime Archaeological discoveries in Eastern Province in Sri Lanka: With special emphasis on Trincomale to Potuvil

Maritime Archaeology Unit (MAU) of Central Cultural Fund (CCF) is carried out an underwater Archaeological non disturbance exploration in the Eastern coastal area (From Trincomalee to Potuvill), 13th of July to 26th of August 2013.Drawing the measured and non measured drawings, photographical and video documentation, applying GPS and remote sensing are the used methods for the exploration.Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Pothuwil are the main selected areas for the survey.

Conferences

A conference on understanding the values embedded in burial archaeological sites in Southernmost India

This conference is focused on understanding the values embedded in burial archaeological sites in southernmost India. The objective of the conference is to discuss the importance of burial archaeology to academia and its significance in promoting postgraduate research related to archaeology in the country.

Call for Papers – 11th Annual RASSL Research Conference on Humanities and Social Sciences

Extended Abstracts of papers should be in twelve point, Times New Roman/FM Abhaya, A4 page format, 30 mm left margin and 25 mm other margins, one and half line spacing and not exceeding 1000 words and include Title, Author/s, Institutional Affiliation/s if any, Postal Address, Tel., email address and five keywords. Sinhala abstracts should also include title and keywords in English. Extended Abstracts should be sent only by email to rasslconference11@gmail.com They should be in the prescribed format, which is downloadable from RASSL website. Extended Abstracts and Full papers should be submitted as Soft Copies only in MS Word Format.
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Interviews

Life in Sri Lankan Archaeology

Archaeology, the scientific study of the material remains of the human past is a unique field in where the participant while digging up the past is exposed to an array of diverse cultures and environments. It is a field that requires a strict discipline in conducting one’s self as the vehicle of archaeology would drive one to various places of the world, meet different people of different cultures and changing environments. For the lover of history and nature, this could be a very satisfying experience to the soul as archaeology binds one to these two aspects thereby creating a character more open to the diversity of humanity.

Archaeology.lk interviews Dr. H. Nimal Perera

Dr.H. Nimal Perera Halawathage Nimal Perera, born on the 23rd of December 1953 is a prominent prehistorian of Sri Lanka and was the former Director...

archaeology.lk interviews Dr. Karen Lee from the Smithsonian

Pramuditha Munusinghe from archaeology.lk interviews Dr. Karen Lee, a curator from the Smithsonian, the world's largest museum and research complex based in Washington, D.C.