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

By Chryshane Mendis and Prasad Fonseka

Deshamanya Vidya Jyothi Dr. Roland Silva was one of the foremost 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 pioneer 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 president of the of ICOMOS International (International Council on Monuments and Sites) from Asia (1990-1999), which is one of the three formal advisory bodies to the World Heritage Committee function under  UNESCO, the pioneer in the establishment of the Post Graduate Institute of Archaeology and the pioneer founder President of The National Trust Sri Lanka. In addition he was a senior/honoured member of many other national and international professional institutions of Architecture and Archaeology.

Dr Roland Silva

Born in 1933 to a prominent entrepreneurial family in Giriulla, Roland Silva was the fifth in the family. His only brother was the eldest and there were three elder sisters and three younger sisters to Roland. He began school at St. Joseph’s College Colombo 10 in 1939 and was the youngest boarder at that time in the hostel, where he resided throughout his years at College. In 1942 when the Darley road premises were taken over by the military, the students were moved to three branches in Gampaha, Kelaniya, and Homagama. He continued his studies in Gampaha and then in Homagama, where he excelled in the second and third standards and received a double promotion to the fifth standard. Returning to Darley road in 1946, he took part in high jump and volley ball and finally captained the College Athletics and Volley ball teams. The late Dr. Carlo Fonseka who later entered SJC after having his early education in Mari Stella College was a classmate of his and were together in their years of schooling until they were separated in different streams. Due to his excellence in academic and the other activities, he was awarded the Head Prefectship by the Rector Rev. Fr. Peter Pillai, in 1951.

Young Roland Silva

In Senior Prep (Year 9), he chose Double Maths, Physics and Chemistry (for HSC) and after passing all the examinations, he was called for an interview for selection to University where he indicated his desire to study Architecture. As there was no course on Architecture in the University, the panel recommended him to discuss with the Rector and so the Rector communicated with the Architecture Association (AA) of England to secure a place in their School of Architecture.

Dr Roland Silva with Prof. Senake Bandaranayake, Dr Senarat Dissanayake, Prof. Anura Manatunga, Dr. Sirimal Lakdusinghe

Dr. Roland began his studies in London in 1954, and while there, he had received a letter from Rev. Fr. Peter Pillai about his visit to London to undergo surgery for nonalcoholic cirrhosis. Fr. Peter Pillai had requested his former student to arrange suitable accommodation and he was able to find a visitor’s room in the hostel where he was staying. He had also given his contact details to the Hospital as the emergency contact of Fr. Peter Pillai and tended to the needs of Fr. Pillai throughout his stay in London.

While studying architecture in London from 1954 to 1959, he became interested in  archaeology and thus he found time to complete a Postgraduate Diploma in Indian Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology at the University of London in 1958; and even at this young age, he demonstrated his skills in multi-tasking, which later became the hallmark of his career.

After his studies in London, he toured in Europe and North Affrica visiting archaeological sites and he collected his appointment letter as the Assistant Commissioner (Architecture) of the Department of Archaeology from the Sri Lankan Embassy in Egypt. He became an Associate Member of Ceylon Institute of Architects in 1960, Royal Institute of British Architects in 1962 He later went on to obtain a Postgraduate Diploma in Conservation of Monuments from the University of Rome in 1968 and his Ph.D. from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands in 1988.

Dr Roland Silva

During his illustrious career of 30 years at the Department of Archaeology, Dr. Roland had the privilege of being the last Commissioner of Archaeology and its first Director General. During his tenure, he gave professional and scientific leadership for complex conservation works such as the restoration of the Maligawila Buddha Image and many historical Stūpas. Through his great vision and holistic approach to heritage, he was the pioneer and pathfinder for the UNESCO – Sri Lanka Project of the Cultural Triangle in 1980 and also for the inscribing of Sri Lanka’s first six UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In par with these international projects, he also set up the Central Cultural Fund for the financing and implementation of the project.

Dr. Roland Silva was the Founder President of ICOMOS – Sri Lanka from 1981 to 1990, and also championed for regional representation in ICOMOS International and was subsequently elected the first Non-European President of ICOMOS in 1990, which he held for an unprecedented three consecutive terms till 1999; during which he worked tirelessly to set up national committees of ICOMOS in African, Asian and Latin American countries to realize his vision of making ICOMOS truly a world body. His international work included chairing scientific sessions of UNESCO that listed 222 sites throughout the world and also advocated looking into Asian traditions in conservation and management with an approach to living heritage. He also chaired the international proceedings in Nara, Japan, in 1993 that led to the Nara Document of Authenticity, a landmark document in heritage conservation.

Dr. Roland Silva was a consultant for World Heritage Site projects in many countries. One of his major contributions at the international level was serving in  the team of experts in the conservation of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, which made the tower stable.  Roland Silva the architect, too was active, having assisted in developing the architecture education by setting up a course in architecture at the Colombo Campus and was thus an influential teacher to several generations of architects. The former Head Office building of the CCF, Polonnaruwa Site Museum, and the old site Museum at Sigiriya were all designed by him, evolving a specific architectural vocabulary with tradition.

He is a constant reference to any student of Archaeology in Sri Lanka, and his theoretical studies of ancient Buddhist architecture are now standard practices. Even at an old age, Dr. Roland was still involved in the heritage sector and attended to the affairs of The National Trust with great enthusiasm. His strong charisma was an inspiration to many and although his demise is a loss to Sri Lanka and the whole world, the legacy he left behind will last the ages where he will join the list as one of Mother Lanka’s greatest sons.

Dr Roland Silva with Prof. Gamini Adikari, December 2019


Special thanks gooes to Mr. IMS Madanayake and Ms Sonali Premarathne for providing photos for this article.

This article was published on on January 03, 2020

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New Light on The Decline of Polonnaruwa (1196-1215): The Tamil Pillar Inscription from Rankot Vihara

The Tamil Pillar Inscription at the premises of the Rankot Vihara was discovered during the course of an archaeological survey conducted by the Cultural Triangle in 1981, the presentation made here is based on the author’s examination of the copy of an estampage supplied by Prof. P.L Prematilleke, former Director of the Alahana Parivena Project of the Cultural Triangle, Polonnaruwa.

The text of the inscription is engraved in 10 lines on each side of a square stone pillar. The first half of the text engraved on two faces of the pillar is quite clear and the letters could be identified clearly. The portion of the text on the third face is not as clear as the estampage was not prepared with sufficient care and skill. The letters on the fourth face are completely worn out.

The inscription is not dated in the regional year of any king. On paleographical considerations it could be assigned to the early 13th century. In formation the letters represent a more advanced stage of development than those in the inscription of Parakramabahu I (1153-1186) and Nissankamalla (1187-1196). Dr.A Velupillai made a rather futile attempt at decipherment as evident from the text and translation of the inscription published by him. His failure to identify correctly the expressions in the first 12 lines has led to serious misunderstandings vitiating the importance of the record as a source of historical information.

On the basis of a careful scrutiny of the estampage, the first 12 lines of the text may be reconstructed as follows: “Kumalalapura parameciran kankai – kulottaman kaverivallavan nantikirincatan uttamacolan peral mantalanayakattukku utanpatu velaikkaran olaikkaran matevan ner anatti.

The first three expressions could be identified as epithets of Nandikkirincatan. He was obviously a Cola feudatory claiming descent from a lineage of the Gangas who had connections with Kuvalalapuram, the capital of the Western Gangas. In the 12thand 13th centuries the Gangas of Pankala-natu had these epithets. Besides, the text suggests that he was a Velaikkaranexercising some administrative functions under a king, who was later raised to the dignity of a chieftain of a region (mantalam). He was probably a Cola military leader who had come to Polonnaruwa as an accomplice of Aniganga who is said to have occupied Polonnaruwa with the support of a Cola army. The inscription testifies to the presence of a feudatory chieftain of Ganga lineage in Polonnaruwa as one holding a position of rank and authority during a period of turmoil.

S. Pathmanathan

Department of History, Faculty of Arts, University of Peradeniya

This abstract was first published in the Peradeniya University Research Sessions, 2004, Vol. 9, pp.31.

For more information please visit

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Photography Competition – Urumayaka Asiriya Upanethin- 2019

Heritage through Lens 2019,  Nationally and Internationally recognized archaeological website in Sri Lanka, has organized an open photography contest to mark the 10th anniversary. This competition is organized to enhance the knowledge and understanding of the archaeological heritage and diversity of Sri Lanka and to increase the public’s interest in it.

Any Sri Lankan citizen can participate in this competition. There is no age consideration.

Any photograph depicting the archaeological heritage of Sri Lanka can be submitted.

Entering the Contest

  • All photos should be emailed to Send only one photo per email with the information below. (If you submit three photos, you must send three emails.)
  • The name, address, telephone number, national identity card number, e-mail address, location, name of the photo, and a small description should be sent along with the photo. If you have any chance, send the GPS coordinates at the location.
  • When sending photos, send your photo as an attachment to the email and don’t attach photos to Google Drive or other similar online storage
  • A contestant can send a maximum of 3 photos. The competitor is responsible for mistakes made in sending the photo by email.
  • Photographs taken only in Sri Lanka should be submitted.

Conditions of competition

  • All photographs must be photographs depicting the archaeological heritage of Sri Lanka.
  • Must be non-edited, colored or black and white photos. (Non-editable means adding, removing, or distorting or modifying the image or image of the person or place in which the image is represented. Doing so will result in rejection of your photos.)
  • Photographs that have not previously been published in the mainstream media and that should not have won any competition.
  • The copyright and copy of the photograph shall be in its possession, and if required, you shall be able to submit the edited/unpublished photos at any time.
  • The website is not obligated to return the photos to the owner.
  • Organizers reserve the right to use the photographs submitted for the Contest only for “ – Sri Lankan Archeology” (educational articles and other material). Photographs of the winners will be used for the campaign. (The ownership of the photograph is with the respective owner, and the copyright of the owner will be mentioned at the time of use.)

Quality of photos to be sent for the competition

  • The soft copy of the photo submitted for the competition should be clear and of high quality, and the length profile of the photo should be 1920 pixels. There should be no names or boundary markings or watermarks. Photos should be sent in JPGE media.
  • All photos must be uploaded to Adobe Photoshop software in high quality (8-12 high quality) and color combination RGB. (See photos below for examples.)



  • First place – Rs. 25,000.00
  • Second Place – Rs. 15,000.00
  • Third Place – Rs. 10,000.00
  • Award Certificates for Best 25 Photos (Print & Electronic)
  • Participation certificates for all other selected photos (electronic)

Most popular photo

  • 1st place – Rs. 15,000.00
  • Second Place – Rs. 10,000.00
  • Third Place – Rs. 5,000.00

Important days

  • Opening date for the competition – October 15, 2019
  • Deadline for sending photos for the competition – January 20, 2020
  • Notice of photo selection – 6th February 2020
  • Voting for the Most Popular Photos – 7th February 2020 to 21st February 2020
  • The selected photographs will be exhibited through on 25th February 2020
  • Award Ceremony – 02nd March 2020 (Location and time will be announced later)
  • Any changes to these dates will be posted on the website and on’s official Facebook site. Contestants will also be notified of their email addresses.

Other Things to Follow

  • Details of your photo selection will be personally communicated to your email address. Do not disclose that information in the public media, as it will be informed to you personally.
  • Members of the team and their family members cannot compete.
  • Three leading experts on photography will judge the photos.
  • When the preference for the most popular photos is matched, the name is awarded in the order of 1, 2, and 3 when the English alphabetical order of the name is arranged.
  • If you find a problem or something unclear, you can get the information you need by sending an email to or by dialing 071 957 7169 (Rumal).
  • Once a photo is submitted to the competition, the applicant agreed for all conditions of the competition.

The photo should be sent to

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Experimental archaeology: fundamentals of the manufacture and use of prehistoric stone artifacts


The PGIAR is planning to organize a workshop on experimental archaeology: fundamentals of the manufacture and use of prehistoric stone artifacts on 29th -30th of December, 2018 from 9.00 am at the PGIAR labs/auditorium. The objective of this workshop is to understand stone tool making industry and their functions. Students will be provided with raw material, hammerstones, etc. and will be given basic training to understand knapping techniques (techniques to make stone tools). They will then have a structured workshop on the use of flakes on different plant material and procedures on documentation of experimental studies that are being conducted. This workshop will be conducted by the senior scholars from India and Sri Lanka: Prof. Santhi Pappu, Founder/Secretary Sharma centre for Heritage Education, India, Dr. Kumar Akhilesh, Director, Sharma Centre for Heritage Education, India, Dr. Nimal Perera, Former Deputy Director, Excavation/Department of Archaeology, Dr. S. U. Deraniyagala, Former Director General, Department of Archaeology.

Please use the following map for directions.


29.12.2018 (Saturday)
Start time 9.00 am

Dr. T. R. Premathilake

9.15-10.15 Keynote Lecture: New approaches in the Study of Lithic Technology: Examples from India

Prof. Shanti Pappu  +  Discussion

10.15-10.30  TEA
10.30-11.15 Lecture:   Exploring lithic technological strategies through time (Interactive talk, demonstrations of technological strategies and viewing films)

Dr. Kumar Akhilesh  + Discussion

11.15-12.30 Lithic knapping
12.30-1.30 LUNCH
1.30-2.45 Lithic knapping
2.45-3.00 TEA
3.00-5.00 Lithic knapping
30.12.2018 (Sunday)
Start time 9.00 am
9.00-10.00 Experience on stone tool found in Sri Lanka

Dr. S. U Deraniyagala and Dr. Nimal Perera

10.00-12.00  Lithic knapping
12.00-1.00 LUNCH
1.00-3.00 Lithic knapping
3.00-3.15 TEA
3.15-4.00 Lithic knapping


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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. It has been said that values embedded in historic buildings, archaeological sites, and other important places of the past honored all nations in South Asia in ways that would inspire and motivate present and future generations. In the past few decades, archaeologists have diligently discovered, documented, analyzed, and curated our collective past. However, this rich store of data has not yet been exploited for documenting and understanding the long-term trajectories of human societies. Investigations indicate that archaeological data can be the key to expand scientific understandings of human social dynamics, redressing injustices of the past, empowering local and descendant communities, and aiding in the formulation of solutions to contemporary problems in South Asia. For this purpose, a collaborative synthetic research, as practiced in human palaeo-ecology (environmental archaeology) and other sciences, has been a powerful driver for advancing interdisciplinary science. To use these advances, archaeologists, as a community, need the means to bring disparate data sets together and interpret them. This entails creating a vehicle by which collaborative synthetic research becomes a routine and institutionalized practice in archaeology—a budding effort we call the Coalition for Archaeological Synthesis. It is an initiative that will not only benefit the discipline but will also enable researchers to communicate to the public the richly detailed stories of humanity itself. Burial archaeological context in southernmost Asia (i.e. Sri Lanka and South India) is the theme of this particular conference.


Specific Objectives:

  1. To expose the existing knowledge, particularly the grave sites of Sri Lanka and South India
  2. To strengthen collaborative synthetic research in archaeology
  3. Help open up relevant archaeological and paleoenvironmental data collected during archaeological projects to other scientists
  4. To realize the potential of archaeological records to serve interdisciplinary research


The conference will be held on 20th and 21st December 2018 at the Postgraduate Institute of Archaeology, 407, Bauddaloka Mawatha, Colombo 07. Please refer to the map given below for the location and directions.

20.12.2018 (Thursday)
Start time 9.00 am

Dr. T. R. Premathilake

9.15-10.00 Keynote Lecture: Understanding the burial Archaeological context in

Sri Lanka    

Prof. Sudarshan Seneviratne

10.00-10.30 Issues raised from the Keynote Lecture and further discussion on burial archaeology in Sri Lanka

Dr. S. U. Deraniyagala

10.30-10.45 TEA
10.45-11.15 The burial ground at Ranchamadama:  archaeological and chronological evidence

Prof. Raj Somadeva

11.15-11.45 Archaeological records form Maradammaduwa and Nikawewa megalithic cemeteries

Mr. Ranjith Bandara

11.45-12.15 The Material Culture of the  Megalithic Burials in the Jaffna Peninsula

Prof. Selliah Krishnarajah

12.45-1.30 LUNCH
1.30-2.45 Understanding burial archaeological context in South India

Prof. K. Rajan + Discussion

2.45-3.00  TEA
3.00-3.45 Megalithic culture of central India and Vidarbha/Maharashtra

By Prof. Rabi Mohenty, Deccan College, Pune, India + Discussion

3.45-4.45 Final discussion: Grand challenges in conducting research on burial archaeological context in South Asia

Expertise from  India and Sri Lanka

21.12.2018 (Friday)
Start time 9.00 am
9.00-9.15 Introduction to reconstructing burial environment: experience on micro-archaeology

Dr. T. R. Premathilake

9.15-10.00 Reconstructing burial environment in southernmost Asia: integrated laboratory and microscopy approaches of archaeo-palynology in southernmost Asia

Dr. Anupama Krishnamurthy,

Mr. S. Prasad,

Mr. G. Orukaimani

10.00-10.15 TEA
10.15-10.45 Reconstructing burial environment: integrated microscopy approach of phytolith studies in southernmost Asia

Dr. T. R. Premathilake

10.45-11.15 Preservation issues related to micro-fossil content:- some experience from the sites (    ) in South India

Dr. Richard Selvasingh

11.15-12.15 Quantifying past land-cover in south India using a  pollen-vegetation modeling approach

Mrs. Navya and (Mr. J. Lazar)

12.15-1.15 LUNCH
1.15-2.00 Applications of GeoSpatial Technologies in Archaeological Research

Dr. G. Muthu Sankar + Discussion

2.00-2.30 Current progress on GIS application to Archaeology in Sri Lanka

Mrs. Resta Fernando

2.30-2.45 TEA
2.45-3.30 Poster Presentations
3.30-4.00 Final discussion with experts, and suggestions for future projects


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A Workshop on Understanding Wetland Palaeoecology/ Environmental Archaeology and Integrated Microscopy Approaches in Archaeobotany


The PGIAR is planning to organize a workshop on understanding wetland palaeoecology/ environmental archaeology and integrated microscopy approaches in archaeobotany on 13th  – 14th of December, 2018. This workshop will include lectures, discussions, and demonstrations on microscopic observations on the materials collected from the Horton Plains, Muthurajawella wetlands/Negombo Lagoon and Wilpattu. The workshop will be conducted by a team comprising of Dr. R. Premathilake from the PGIAR and Prof. C. O. Hunt, Professor of Cultural Palaeoecology, School of Natural Science and Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University, United Kingdom, Editor, the Journal of Archaeological Science-Report and Editorial Board Member, Journal of Archaeological Science. The objective of this workshop will be to understand the importance of wetland palaeoecology and sampling strategies used in environmental archaeology, e.g., understanding palaeo-climate, palaeo-vegetation, and human activities in the past. The lectures will be conducted in English and at the end of each lecture a summary will be given in Sinhala.

The targeted groups are final year archaeology special students,  recent archaeology graduates, and  Botany and Geology graduates who are interested in Environmental Archaeology.

Please register using the following registration form. Please scroll down for schedule.


Registration Form

Institutional Affiliation:(University students should be final year students of the Special Degree Programme in Archaeology)

Educational Level



13th December 2018
Start time 9.00 am

Dr. T. R. Premathilake

9.15-10.15 Keynote Lecture: Multi-method investigations of environmental change and human impact in the Tropics: lessons from Southeast Asia

Prof. C. O. Hunt

10.15-10.30 Discussion
10.30-10.45 TEA
10.45-11.15 Introduction to environmental archaeology of Sri Lanka

Dr. S. U. Deraniyagala

11.15-12.00 Experience on faunal remain analysis from citadel excavation in Anuradhapura

Prof.  R. M. M. Chandraratne  

12.00-1.15 LUNCH
1.15-2.00 Progress on environmental archaeology research in Sri Lanka

Dr. T. R. Premathilake

2.00-2.30 Micro-charcoal and pollen proxy inferred environmental changes during the mid-late Holocene from the Horton Plains Central Sri Lanka

Mrs. Nuvanprabha Kapugeekiyana Whittall (M. Sc)

2.30-3.00 Understanding phytolith Taphonomy on archaeological context:  a case study from Fahien Rockshelter

Mrs. Sewwandhi  Gunawardena  (M. Sc)

3.00-3.15 TEA
3.15-3.45 Palaeo-environmental records from Rockshelters in Sri Lanka

Dr. Nimal Perera

3.45-4.00 Final Discussion
14th December 2018
Start time 9.00 am
9.00-9.30 Introduction to integrated microscopy approaches in archaeo-botany

Dr. T. R. Premathilake

9.30-10.30 A Video: on sample collection procedures  in Muthurajawella wetland

(1)  Stratigraphical coring

(2)  Understanding litho-, bio- and chrono-stratigraphy

(3)  Sampling and Sub-samplings

(4)  Laboratory protocols

Prof. C. O. Hunt and Dr. T. R. Premathilake

10.30-10.45 TEA
10.45-12.15 Demonstration: microscope session for modern pollen/spores and fossil pollen, NPP and phytoliths

Prof. C. O. Hunt

Dr. T. R. Premathilake



12.15-1.15 LUNCH
1.15-2.30 Understanding issues related to micro fossil taphonomy (e.g. pollen, phytolith, NPP and micro-charcoal)

Prof. C. O. Hunt

2.30-2.45 TEA
2.45-3.15 Presenting microscopic data and final discussion on archaeo-botany

Prof. C. O. Hunt and Dr. T. R. Premathilake

3.00-4.00 Poster presentation by Master Students
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International Workshop and Lecture Series on Recent Advances in Indian History and Archaeology and Sri Lanka- South India Relations


India is the nearest neighbour of Sri Lanka and the greatest cultural inspiration of the Island nation. The historical and Archaeological evidence amply supports this assertion. Indian History and Archaeology is taught across universities in Sri Lanka to mark these obvious historical relations between the two countries. Great strides have been made in both disciplines in India and Sri Lanka in the recent past, which need to be reflected in the university curriculum and introduced to students and early career academics. Historically, academics across the Palk Strait have collaborated in training students and conducting research, which was impacted lately due to political sensitivity. Restoration of peace in Sri Lanka has once again created an excellent opportunity to revive these age-old academic relations.

Therefore, the aims of the International Workshop and Lecture Series are to provide a platform for Indian and Sri Lankan historians and archaeologist as well as students in the Special Degree Programmes in History and Archaeology and Early Career Academics and Professionals in Archaeology to meet and discuss recent advances in the said disciplines. It also aims to revive academic interaction between academic institutions and colleagues across Palk Strait and reread Sri Lanka- India relations in general and South India- Sri Lanka in particular. This meeting will also provide an opportunity for students and early career academics to establish contacts with Indian scholars for possible postgraduate opportunities.

Deadline For Registration: August 28, 2018

Confirm Your Participation On Or Before August 30, 2018

Lecture Series And The Workshop

The lecture series and hands-on training in stone knapping (stone tool production) will be conducted by reputed academics and researchers from India and Sri Lanka.

Registration And Applications

Applications are called from students in the Special Degree Programmes in History and Archaeology and Early Career Academics and Professionals in Archaeology.

Registration, attendance at lectures and workshop and conference material, lodging and food are totally free. Early career academics and professionals may need to find accommodation for a night.

For more information please visit this site.


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Scientific evidences to show ancient lead trade with Tissamaharama Sri Lanka: A metallurgical study

The location of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean opened her many opportunities to interact with foreign trade links at the historical time. Archaeologists have established a knowledge regarding the ancient trade links that Sri Lanka had with the out side world by mostly studying the visually identifiable foreign made archaeological objects such as coins, ceramics, beads etc. in addition to using information from the written sources. It is evident all such foreign made archaeological objects discovered so by archaeologists were finished objects most probably exchanged for local trading goods.

Even though Sri Lankan ancient metallurgists had produced leaded bronze icons and other artefacts containing lead probably from circa 4th – 5th Century AD onwards, strikingly lead is totally absent in the protohistoric context metal artefacts of Sri Lanka, where we see only copper and iron artifacts implying lead may have not been known to the country during those periods. (Thantilage 2008 (b): 200-210). To date there is no known lead source within the island. Hence the existence of lead and leaded bronze artefacts produced during the ancient times within the county compels us to think that lead was obtained most probably through the foreign trade that existed during that period. The advance methods of scientific analysis such as stable lead isotope ratio analysis have opened the opportunities to address this type of question.

Arjuna Thantilage
Senior Lecturer, Coordinator, Laboratory for Cultural Material Analysis (LCMA),
Postgraduate Institute of Archaeology, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka

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An evaluation on Scientific Investigation of Bronze Tara image from Sri Lanka at the British Museum: A critical evaluation on controversy of its provenance

The life size gilded Tara image exhibited at the British Museum (acc. no. OA-1820-6-12-14, see photograph 5) which had been found in 1800s somewhere between Trincomalee and Batticoloa on the eastern coast of the Sri Lanka. The then governor Sir Robert Brownrigg later donated it to the British Museum. The metallurgical study on South Indian bronze images by Sharadha Srinivasan analyzed this Tara image by means of stable lead isotope and trace element analyses (Sirinivasan 1999 (a): 95). By comparing stable lead isotope ratio values and also trace element values of this Tara image with some other South Indian values she argues the possibility of it having a possible South Indian origin. She further states that the trace element trends of the Tara image fit the Pallava trend and suggests perhaps the re-use of Pallava metal (Sirinivasan 1999 (b): 204). The aim of this paper is to discuss the scientific results of the Tara image in comparison with the lead isotope and trace element results of Sri Lankan bronze images and address the existing controversy regarding the provenance of this Tara image and open up a discussion.

Tara is a female Bodhisattva Deity of Mahayana Buddhism. Archaeological evidences show the wide spread flourishing of Mahayana Tradition in the island with the existing Theravada Tradition after 5th – 6th Century AD probably through the intense maritime trade activities Sri Lanka had with China, India and South East Asia. The Mahayana influence can be clearly identified by the addition of Mahayana Bodhisattvas and other architectural features to the existing Theravada monasteries, as well as building of new ones throughout the country. There are hundreds of Bodhisattva images found throughout the island, most of them are of stone or carved on rock faces, varying from small to life size to huge (30 -40 feet high). Numerous metal Mahayana Bodisattwa images including Tara images specially made out of copper alloys such as bronze which were dated to 7th – 9th Century AD have been found from different parts of Sri Lanka.

Arjuna Thantilage
Senior Lecturer, Coordinator, Laboratory for Cultural Material Analysis (LCMA),
Postgraduate Institute of Archaeology, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka

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Kandy Period Bronze Buddha Images of Sri Lanka: Visual and Technological Styles

A rich collection of Buddha images belonging to the Kandyan period (17th– 18th Century AD) possessing characteristic visual features and made of different media have been found from the different parts of the country. Among them a significant number of images are made using the metal. This paper intends to study the metallurgy of the Kandyan period Buddha images which in turn gives some light to the metal technology of that period. In addition this paper tries to study metallurgy of the studied icons in relation to their visual features (visual styles). Twenty metal Buddha images which have been attributed to the Kandyan period and now deposited at the National Museum, Colombo were taken for this study (see appendix 1). These images have been classified as belonging to the Kandyan period mostly by art historical means such as iconography and iconometry which have undoubtedly been proved as very successful for this task.

A historical metal icon possesses two main styles as emphasized by Chandra Reedy (Reedy 1997: 15).

  1. Visual style
  2. Technological Style

The art historical method of classification uses the visual style of an icon as the main source of information in classifying an image. But in this study, it is shown that if we could combine the information gathered from visual styles of the icons by art historical means with the information obtained from their technological styles, it would be more accurate and could go for even further classifications which would not be possible based on the art historical means only.

Arjuna Thantilage
Senior Lecturer, Coordinator, Laboratory for Cultural Material Analysis (LCMA),
Postgraduate Institute of Archaeology, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka

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

11th Annual RASSL Research Conference on Humanities and Social Sciences

March 22-24, 2018

Call for Papers

“Heritage, Culture and Sri Lankan Society”

Research papers should be relevant to the above main theme, and under the following sub-themes:

  • Heritage, Culture and Archaeology
  • Language, Education and Communication
  • Nutrition, Health and Medical Practices
  • Science, Technology and Indigenous Knowledge Systems
  • Aesthetics and Social Values
  • Philosophy and Psychology

Papers may be presented in Sinhala or English

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 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.

  • Deadline for Submission of Extended Abstracts: Friday, January 12, 2018
  • Announcement of Acceptance: Friday, February 16, 2018
  • Submission of Full Papers: Friday, March 09, 2018

(Full papers will be considered for publication in the RASSL International Journal published through the past 172 years.)

  • Registration fees for members: LKR 1450/-
  • Registration fees for non-members: LKR 2,250/-

Conference Coordinator: Eng. Chandana Jayawardana

(Tel: 011-2699249)


96, Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha, Colombo 07

Sri Lanka