Author - Sri Lanka Archaeology

Holocene hunter-gatherer/foragers in action

A recent archaeological survey carried out in the mountainous landscape of the area around Illukkumbura in Balangoda of the intermediate climatic zone in Sri Lanka has revealed information pertaining to the interaction held with the surrounding environment by the Holocene hunter-gatherer/foragers. An area of approximately 15 acres of the summit of an elevated height of 550m msl. has a surface scattering of stone implements (quartz and chert), stone pebbles used as hammers cum pestles.

 

Panoramic view of the site explored

A large number of pitted-hammers reported suggest that a fairly long period of residential camping held at the location probably during the summer seasons. The assemblage of stone implements collected consists of specimens of flake technology which is comparable with the similar implements excavated from the prehistoric cave occupation in the area such as Lunugalge, Paragamadittagalge and Alugalge. The prehistoric occupations of all those caves are chronologically ascribed to the period between 4500 and 3450 cal. BCE showing the mid/late Holocene human existence.

Sampling is in progress

A magnificent artifact of a piece of a perforated quartz  flake, probably used as a pendent recovered from the surface of the explored location provides us an explicit example to their inclination towards symbolic expression. The panoramic view of the adjoining landscape may have been functioned as one of the stimulants to enhance the emotions of the sensitive personalities of those communities while push them into such a sentimental terrain.

Perforated quartz flake recovered from the site

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. Three separate climatic regions i.e.  wet, intermediate and dry zone which are geographically adjacent to each other have been archaeologically investigated through a series of reconnaissance surveys and excavations.

A view of the Vavullena cave which is a large prehistoric occupation in Illukkumbura of Balangoda

Floral and faunal distribution in the sampled area were mapped against the dispersal of prehistoric sites. Six Spatio-temporal caves situated in the region; the elevation ranging between 900 and 300m msl. fall into the period between 9000 -3500 cal. BCE were probed to establish a spatio-temporal framework to the Holocene cultural development. All of the caves investigated are situated not very far from each other; the maximum distance does not exceed 20km.

Approaching the Vavullena cave in Paragahamaditta

Identification of a natural formation of a quartz deposit which had been extensively exploited for lithic manufacture (as suggested by the artifacts excavated)  suggests as one of the key attractors of the colonization of its surrounding landscape. 25 varieties of wild grass seeds, nuts together with an extensive index of small animals hunted suggest that the Holocene hunters-gatherers had shown a marked resilience to the new climatic regime. Some of the symbolic artifacts excavated evidenced the fresh approach of them seeing themselves and their external world.

A symbolic object (probably a female genital)

Alugalge Cave in Balangoda Revisited

The second phase of the archaeological investigations in the prehistoric cave of Alugalge in Balangoda has been initiated in the late February 2017.

 

The Alugala Cave

 

This cave was first excavated in July 2015 and has yielded an assemblage of artifacts suggesting the prehistoric occupation at the location during the mid/late Holocene. One of the notable characteristics of the stone implements (quartz) recovered is the presence of hyper-microliths; length of some of the lunates of that kind are not exceeding 4mm.  Other artifacts excavated include bone points, pieces of graphite with the marks of heavy aberration, small grind-stones, etc. Plant materials reported are residues of charred nuts (Canerium Zelanicum), seeds (probably Oriza sp.) and some of the specimens in the assemblage are waiting to be identified. The abundance of terrestrial shells (Acavus sp., Oligospeira sp.) among the food residues indicates that the cave was inhabited by the prehistoric communities in a period of relatively wet climatic condition was prevailed.

Prof Raj Somadeva at site

Some of the non-utilitarian artifacts found (a grid drawn on an undressed stone surface) have strongly suggest a conceptual inclination towards symbolism which has been considered as one of the explicit manifestation of the hunters in transition. Prehistoric deposit of the Alugalage cave has been dated to the 3505 cal. BCE. This project is funded by the Postgraduate Institute of Archaeology and the National Science Foundation (research grant number IK/2014/01).

Non-utilitarian artifacts

 

Fieldwork of the Hunters in Transition Project -2016 (Second field season)

The second season of the hunters in Transition project was initiated between 22nd July and 4th September 2016. Two excavations have been carried out in Illukkumbura of Balangoda. The objective of the fieldwork was to investigate the adaptation of the prehistoric communities in the area to the climatic changes of the early and the middle Holocene.

 

Prof Raj Somadva during the excavation

Prof Raj Somadva during the excavation

The first cave excavated was Paragahamaditta galge alias Bandukanda galge in Panana has revealed a rich assemblage of prehistoric stone implements. Lack of prehistoric food residues suggests that the cave had been utilised by the prehistoric communities of the area as a transit location during their mobility of transhumance.

Paragahamaditta galge alias Bandukanda galge in Panana

Paragahamaditta galge alias Bandukanda galge in Panana

The second cave excavated was Alu galge in Maddekanda of Illukkumbura has produced an important assemblage of artifacts suggesting more complex stage of transition of the prehistoric communities lived in the hilly flanks of the area. Except a wealthy collection of prehistoric implements (stone and bone) ad food residues, BRW pottery and a few beads were reported from the parallel levels of the cave floor. Findings of  3 shark tooth and a piece of a coral suggests that the group inhabited the cave had travelled about 30km to the sea and had triggered off a new sphere of economic interaction with the settlements in the valley of the maritime littoral areas. Radiometric datings of the excavations are expected by the end of September 2016.

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Alu galge in Maddekanda of Illukkumbura

Alu galge in Maddekanda of Illukkumbura

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 to their social structures, religious beliefs and other aspects of their culture”. This way, the methodological approach proposed in this publication can also contribute for the development of Cognitive Archaeology, in particular, and brings, in a general way, important information for future research in the fields of archaeology, anthropology, rock art, ethnography, and symbolism, among others.. The book has three chapters and 103 figures. The present project titled “Ethno Rock Art: A Case Study of Kaimur, Bihar” is a work, which largely depends on field exploration in the study area by the researcher. Inspite of extensive field exploration I have the inspiration from other researchers and scholars who works for advancement of rock art studies in India. Ethno rock art is one of the neglected disciplines of Indian Archaeology. In this work apart from the brief about the rock art of Kaimur, a detail attempt has been made to interpret them taking clue from ethno-archaeological evidences.

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Cover Page: Ethno Rock Art A case study Kaimur Bihar Sachin Kumar Tiwary

Cover Page: Ethno Rock Art A case study Kaimur Bihar Sachin Kumar Tiwary

The methodology used for the development of project is divided into three phases: data collecting, analysis and information stage. The collection of information started from a wide review of books and articles published on the Kaimurian rock art; researches about the occupants of those territory through the ages and the survey of specific data about their ethno art. As far as the research on rock art of Kaimur region (Bihar) is concerned, unfortunately only two articles are written on this regional rock art. The result of present study has elevated the Kaimur rock art on the national or even international level and I am sure that now the rock art researches from far off regions or nations may now turn to this region as one of the resource centres of filed observation. Although so far, it was more or less in a state of oblivion and regretfully suffered negligence or isolation in such studies.

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Programme – The 3rd Biennial Conference of the International Association for Asian Heritage

The 3rd Biennial Conference of the International Association for Asian Heritage will be held at the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka on 27th -28th December 2015. The conference is being organized by the Centre for Asian Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Kelaniya in collaboration with several other Departments and Institutes interested in Asian Heritage and academic affairs.
iaah-3rd-international-conference-invitation
The details on academic sessions are given below.

Day 1- Hall- 1

27th December 2015 Sunday

Board Room of the Faculty of Social Sciences

Time: 11.30am -1.00 pm

Chairperson:           Prof. Dilkushi Wettewe

Co- Chairperson: Mr. Amalka Wijesuriya

Rapporteur:    Ms. Suvimali Rathnayake

 

11.30-11.50 Acoustic similarities between Sinhala language and Assamese

Gitanjali Goswami

11.50-12.10 A comparative study of Dhrupad and Borgeet

Hiranmayee Das Gogoi, Bhupen Hazarika

12.10-12.30 Constructing narratives of everyday life and aspects of Kandyan social order through personal diaries

Indika Bulankulame

12.30-12.50 Yantras of Shankara and their influence on Indian Tantric Artists With reference to G.R. Santosh and K.V. Haridasan

Soumya Manjunath Chavan

12.50-1.00 Discussion

1.00-2.00: Lunch

 

Time: 2.00-3.30 pm

Chairperson:         Dr. Prashanthi Narangoda

Co- Chairperson: Mr. Anuradha Piyadasa

Rapporteur:    Ms. Idunil Jayathilake

2.00-2.20 God Saman – The earliest convert to Buddhism in Sri Lanka.

Srilal Perera

2.20-2.40 Bridging the Gender Gap: Reflections on the Pronounced Femininity in the Buddhist Art of Ratnagiri, Odisha (India)

SushmaTrivedi

2.40-3.00 Sculptural art of Bihar

Dilip Kumar

3.00-3.20 Portable Art in Buddhist Period in Sindh and its Evaluation and Connection to Global Buddhist Community

Mastoor F. Bukhari

3.20-3.30 Discussion

3.30-3.45:                Tea Break

 

Time: 3.45- 5.00pm

Chairperson:         Dr. Choodamani Nandagopal

Co-Chairperson: Dr. Chandima Bogahawatte

Rapporteur:                                Rev. Pahiyangala Sumangala 

3.45- 4.05 Deconstituted Heritage: The (Un)making of a ‘Buddhist’ Heritage Site in Central India

L. Lamminthang Simte

4.05- 4.25 The Significance of Currency as a Heritage Transmission Media: with reference to Sri Lankan Rupees

Piyumi Embuldeniya, Indrachapa Gunasekara

4.25- 4.45 Beach Tourism and its Positive Environmental Impacts (Related to the Unawatuna coastal area)

M.V.R.M. Suvimali Rathnayake

4.45-5.00 Discussion

 

6.00- 7.00:  Cultural Show at the Cristo Hall, Department of Fine Arts, University of Kelaniya.

 

Day 1- Hall- 2

27th December 2015 Sunday Research Centre – Faculty of Social Sciences

Time: 2.00-3.30pm

Chairperson:         Prof. Mala Malla

Co-Chairperson:  Dr. Mangala Katugampola

Rapporteur:             Ms. Piumi Embuldeniya

 

2.00- 2.20 Built on Shifting Sands: Ceramic Analysis and Gender in South Asian Archaeology

Prerana Srimaal

2.20-2.40 Archaeology of North Cachar: Recent archaeological exploration in Assam

Tilok Thakuria

2.40- 3.00 First Palaeopathological Example of Dental Abscess from Pre-Historic Sri Lanka

Lanka Ranaweera and G.Adikari

3.00.3.20 Study of faunal remains at Rkhigarhi Early Harappan site, Haryana, India.

Rev. Uduwila Uparathana

3.20-3.30 Discussion

3.30-3.45pm:   Tea break

 

Time 3.45 – 5.00pm

Chairperson:         Dr. Lanka Ranaweera

Co-Chairperson:  Dr. Tilok Thakuria

Rapporteur:             Ms. Indrachapa Gunasekera

3.45-4.05 Archaeological Landscape of the Lower Montane Region of Sri Lanka: Socio-Cultural Aspects of Archaeological Sites

Chulani Rambukwella

4.05-4.25 A study of ancient settlement in Sri Lanka through Archaeological evidence

Rev.Pahiyanagla Sumangala

4.25-4.45 Cultural Tourism and Museums

Sanjeewani Widyarathna

4.45- 5.00 Discussion

 

6.00- 7.00:  Cultural Show at the Cristo Hall, Department of Fine Arts, University of Kelaniya.

 

Day 1- Hall- 3

27th December 2015 Friday

Board Room of the Faculty of Humanities

 

Time: 2.00- 3.30pm

Chairperson:         Dr. Oshantha Talpawila

CoChairperson: Dr. Rashmi Condra

Rapporteur:            Dr. J.M.S.Dilinika

 

2.00-2.20 The need for building public diplomacy to strengthen regional cooperation –The case for South Asia

N.K. Kumaresan Raja

2.20-2.40 Developing Sri Lankan International Relations through International Communication: Use of Soft Power Resources.

Manoj Jinadasa

2.40-3.00 Traditional Fusion Dance- a solution of artistry to ethnic prejudice

Anupama Madhubhashinie Weerasinghe

3.00-3.20 Role of Religious Leaders in Post -War Peacebuilding: An Analysis of John Pol Lederarch’s Peace Building Pyramid

Oshadhi Herath

3.20-3.30 Discussion

3.30-3.45pm: Tea break

 

 

Time: 3.45-5.30pm

Chairperson:         Dr. Kumaresan Raja

Co- Chairperson: Dr. Pushpa Kulanatha

Rapporteur:             Ms. M.C.N.Jayawardana

3.45-4.05 Expressions (TCEs) of South Asia in Digital Libraries and Museums

Kamani Perera

4.05-4.25 Impact of Social Media on Creative Libraries: with special reference to Public Libraries in Sri Lanka

J.M.S Dilinika

4.25- 4.45 A semiotic analysis of the poetry of the poet Mahagama Sekara (The content analysis is based on 10 poems in the book “Heta Irak Payai” written by Mahagama Sekara)

Dineesha Liyanage

4.45-5.05 Involvement of Travel Agencies in Sri Lanka to promote Museums in tourism industry through the medium of tour packages

Indrachapa Weerasingha

5.05-5.25 Discussion

6.00- 7.00:  Cultural Show at the Cristo Hall, Department of Fine Arts, University of Kelaniya

 

Day 2- Hall-1

28th December 2015 Monday

Board Room of the Faculty of Social Sciences

 

Time: 9.00-10.40am

Chairperson:         Prof. Piyadasa Ranasingha

Co-Chairperson:  Ms. Ashirdini Bhagya Attanayake

Rapporteur:             Ms. Dineesha Liyanage

9.00-9.20 The Buddhist Relationship between Sri Lanka and Thailand: A Case Study of exhibition design of Upali Museum,Dhammaram Temple, Ayutthaya, Thailand

Sarunya Prasopchinchana

9.20-9.40 Buddhist Soft Skills as a tool for Peace and Harmony in the Multi-Cultural Society

Sarath Chandrasekara

9.40-10.00 Buddhist view of other Religions

H.R. Nishadini Peiris

10.00 10. -20 A study of Dammapada Atthakatha

Sandesh M. Wagh

10.20-10.40 Discussion

10.40-11.00:  Tea break

 

Time: 11.00am -1.00pm

Chairperson:         Prof.  Asanga Thilakarathne

Co-Chairperson: Dr. Sarunya Prasopchinchana

Rapporteur: Ms. Oshadi Herath

 

11.00-11.20

History of Jainism revealed in Pāli Literature

Bertram G. Liyanage

11.20-11.40 Right consumption – Samma Paribhojana

Daya Dissanayake

11.40-12.00 Trikāya concept – Trikāyastava Sanskrit Inscription (Mihintalaya)

Lenagala Siriniwasa Thero

12.00-12.20 METTĀ-BHĀVANĀ as a daily practice for Peace and Harmony in the Multicultural Society

Lee, Kyoung Hee

12.20-12.40 Flourishing instillation of Buddhist meditation: A classification

R.M. Rathnasiri Rathnayake

12.40-1.00 Discussion

1.00-2.00pm: Lunch

 

Day 2- Hall-1

Time: 2.00-3.30 pm

28th December Sunday Evening Session Board Room of the   Faculty of Social Sciences

Chairperson:         Prof. Kamani Jayasekara

Co-Chairperson: Dr. Milisa Srivastava

Rapporteur: Mr. K.A.T. Chamara

2.00-2.20 An Unknown Legacy: A Living Tribal Heritage of the Oraons

Pramila Dasture, Gregory Xalxo, Eashan Bhatt, Jaya Minz

2.20-2.40 A Journey of Inheritance: A Study of the Documentary

My Mother’s Village by Aaron Burton

Sabreena Niles

2.40-3.00 West orient Memsaabs of Indian Films in Colonial period: The history, heritage and hegemony

Rashmi Condra

3.00-3.20 An extension to Nur Yalman’s Under the Bo Tree: A Survey into Diaries of Mr. KB Nissanka, School Head Master of ‘Terutenne’

Anura Manatunga

3.20-3.30 Discussion

 Day 2- Hall-2

28th December 2015 Monday Research Centre – Faculty of Social Sciences

 Time: 9.00-10.40am

Chairperson: Prof. W.A.Weerasooriya

Co-Chairperson: Ms. Nilanthi Bandara

Rapporteur:  Ms. H.K.I. Sewwandi

9.00-9.20 Heritage Management Plan of Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka (Madhya Pradesh) with special

reference to Disaster Risk Management

Vinay Kumar

9.20-9.40 Colonial Heritage of Pune: An academic and architectural heritage

Pramila Dasture

9.40-10.00 Traditional Management Systems in Temple village

Prasanna Bandara Ratnayake

10.00-10.20 Use of Natural Elements as Surface Decoration Elements: An Examination of Traditional

Earthenware Products in Sri Lanka

W.M.N. Dilshani Ranasinghe

10.20-10.40 Discussion

10.40-11.00am: Tea break

 

Time :11.00am-1.00pm

Chairperson:  Dr. M.G. Kularathne

Co-Chairperson: Dr. Sitha Bandara

Rapporteur: Ms. Sabreena Niles

11.00-11.20 Environmental impact of sustainable tourism in Sri Lanka

Arundathie Abeysinghe

11.20-11.40 Heritage Walks and Trails: The monumental mystique through the lanes of Delhi

Milisa Srivastava

11.40-12.00 Identification of socio- archeological responsibility of the irrigation system

Chandana Rohana Withanachchi

12.00-12.20 Demonstration Effect in Sri Lankan Tourist Destination

W.H.M.S.Samarathunga and  H.P.A.S. Pathirana

12.00-12.40 Discussion

12.40- 2.00pm: Lunch

 

Time 2.00-3.20pm

Chairperson:         Dr. Indika Bulankulame

Co-Chairperson:  Ms. Arundathie Abeysinghe

Rapporteur:             Ms. Harini Nawoda

2,00-2.20 The Portrayal of Women in Gandhara Art

Kiran Shahid Siddiqui

2.20-2.40 Remains and Legacy of Buddhist Monasteries in Shangla, Pakistan

Ghani-ur-Rahman

2.40-3.00 An Industry in Extinction: The case of Diyatharippu Industry at Pilimathalawa in Sri Lanka

H.P. Thushanthi Karunarathne

3.00-3.20 Discussion

 

 

Day 2 – Hall No 3 28th December 2015 Monday

Board Room of the Faculty of Humanities

 Time : 9.00-10.40am

Chairperson:         Dr. Soumya Manjunath Chavan

Co-Chairperson:  Dr. Chaminda Herath

Rapporteur:      Rev. Deiyandara Pannananda

9.00-9.20 The Ethical Value of the Great Chronicle (Mahāvsa), the Prime,

The Importance of Salleka Sutta for solving contemporary social conflict

Bodagama sumana, K. Pagngnaloka, Karapikkada Sobitha

9.20-9.40 The Buddhist cultural heritage of Taxila valley: Its nature, importance,Preservation &

promotion

Ifqut Shaheen

9.40-10.00 Archaeological Site Museums of Bangladesh: Their Role and Importance in the Site

Preservation and Presentation of Moveable National Heritage

Md. Amirul Islam

10.00-10.20 The usage of metal technology according to archaeological evidences of ‘Deega Pashanaya’ at

Anuradhapura

Thusitha Mendis

10.20-10.40 Discussion

10.40-11.00: Tea break

 

Time :11.00am-1.00Pm

Chairperson:         Prof. Mapa Thilakarathne

Co-Chairperson: Mr. Thilina Wickramaarachchi

Rapporteur:             Ms. Sana Ranasinghe

11.00-11.20 The Role of the Media in the Promotion of Sri Lankan Cultural Tourism

T. D. Suresh Gayan Priyangana

11.20-11.40 Archeo-philately: New Dimensions in Heritage Studies

Pramila Dasture,  Ajit Vartak, Kaustibh Mudgal, Gregory Xalxo, Eashan Bhatt

11.40-12.00 Heritable and Historical Record of Asians

Yakkaduwe Sugunaseela & Niwandama Dhammissara

12.00-12.20 Traditional Practices of Aarayish in special reference to Rajasthan

Shika Bansal, Md, Ali Nasir

12.20-12.40 An ethnological study on the traditional knowledge and belief

systems of Sri Lanka which emerged when predicting the future through the indications of nature

W.M. Tissa Weerasekara

12.40-1.00 Discussion

1.00- 2.00: Lunch

Keynote address by Prof. Raj Somadewa at The Annual Research Session 2013 of University of Sabaragamuwa, Sri Lanka

This is the transcript of the keynote address delivered by Prof. Raj Somadewa at The Annual Research Session 2013 of University of Sabaragamuwa, Sri Lanka held on  December 19, 2013.


 

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Prof. Raj Somadewa delivering the keynote address

Prof. Raj Somadewa delivering the keynote address

Honorable sirs, distinguish guests, colleagues and Dear friends,

It is a great honor for me to be invited to deliver the keynote address on  this special occasion today. I consider that you have privileged me to express my own views and perspectives to the wider academic community in your university.  I thought it is more appropriate to begin my lecture referring to the first occasion I came to know about this meeting. A couple of weeks ago Dr. Ms. Paranavitana of your faculty, called me to ask my consent to accept the invitation to deliver the keynote address of the annual research session of her university. I accepted it with great pleasure. Since then I was so eager to find a suitable theme for the talk. In the meantime Dr. Paranavitana called me for the second time and inquired about my preparation and she asked if I could   talk on my own research which is spatially focused on archaeology of the Haldummulla area. On behalf of the Vice chancellor and the organizing committee of this conference, thank you very much Dr. Ms. Paranavitana, for your concern and the kindness conveyed. However I thought it is apt to share some ideas on a theme related to our thinking on history and tradition which perhaps, I am professionally qualified to talk on.
Dear friends, whatever field we are qualified to work in our professional lives, the inspiration made by the historical thinking on our working culture cannot be neglected. We all are historically derived and our mental templates are historically molded. As T.S. Eliot once wrote in one of his poems;
Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future?
And time future contained in time past.
Time past contained in time future that is why we need history to survive as social beings.
Let me now explain what circumstances caused us to formulate our current historical thought. The beginning of archaeology in Sri Lanka is a manifestation of the curiosity of British colonial administrative officers some of whom were fascinated by ‘the ancient civilizations of the orient’. The first English translation of the fifth-century chronicle Mahāvamsa provided a literary guide to search for lost cities of the country, just like Homer’s Illiad inspired Schliemann to search for the ancient city of Troy.
Efforts made by British colonial officers to record and document ancient ruins during the latter part of the 19th century provided a remarkable contrast. Uncovered ruins of ancient buildings and sculptures were assessed as the achievements of a local past and were assimilated into a global cultural order. The artistic quality of the historical paintings and the Buddhist architecture as well as the technology of the ancient irrigation works of the country were contrasted with that of the classical ‘western’ civilizations of the Mediterranean and the Near East. This comparative approach to the early archaeology in Sri Lanka excluded the possibility of having a more specific scientific research frame to view the cultural development of the country.  The colonial enthusiasm for the Sri Lankan past remained within the limits defined by the differences between the colonizers and the colonized. The influence of the British colonial ideology was sustained even in the early post-independence archaeology of the country.
Post-independence scholarship in Sri Lankan history and archaeology sought the legitimacy provided by an uninterrupted existence of the indigenous people of the country and their cultural history was characterised by the historical texts and the archaeological remains.
The main streams of thinking that affected the archaeology of the island after the 1950’s might benefit from examination through a post-colonial theoretical perspective. After gaining political independence in 1948, attempts were made to investigate the culture and identity of the society. The resistance created against the colonist’s view of the ‘voiceless, sensual, female, despotic, irrational and backward’ character of the cultures in the colonies is apparent in post-independence archaeology in Sri Lanka. The search for the existence of indigenous cultures the growth of full-scale literacy , deeper consideration of the historical tradition of paintings and sculptures and socio political aspect of monumental architecture  characterize the culture historical trend in post-independence scholarship.
Post-independence Sri Lanka also has some historians and archaeologists strongly influenced by the growing nationalistic nation-state ideology. A historical theme of ‘aryanization’ from the historical chronicles was used to glorify the past. Aryanization is described in the chronicles as a substantial population migration from the northern part of India to Sri Lanka during the mid-first millennium BCE. It also recounts a story linking Sinhala identity with ‘a white skinned race’, which is believed to have led to an inheritance of racial purity.
The consolidation of the nationalistic ideology of Sri Lanka, which was fragmented during nearly 350 years of colonial domination was an important social dynamic during the first half of the 20th century and is reflected in literature and religious discourse. Among some Sri Lankan intellectuals, the archaeological heritage, regardless of the spatial and temporal dimensions of particular ruins, became an important tool to push the boundaries of the long-term existence of the nation far back in time, long before colonization. Archaeology also provided an anchor for the social psyche to rely on the idea of a more glorious past.
Archaeological activities in the 1970’s on the island were mostly empirically oriented. The research results were incorporated into nationalistic perspectives of the past.  In particular, the deep stratified excavations launched at the ancient city of Anuradhapura provided a sequence of cultural continuity from the early first millennium BCE to the early second millennium CE. Heavy emphasis was placed upon the emergence of writing to bolster past cultural achievements. Finds of north Indian cultural materials associated with the first irrigated agriculture have renewed discussion of the aryanization theme. The theoretical inspiration of the archaeological work carried out in Sri Lanka in the 1970’s came from foreign meta-narratives such as the Childean concept of the ‘urban revolution’.
During the 1980’s, the initiation of the Cultural Triangle project under the Central Cultural Fund of the UNESCO/Sri Lanka joint venture, induced a sudden change in the methods and practice of Sri Lankan archaeology. Five major historical sites (Abhayagiriya monastery and Jethavana monastery in Anuradhapura, the 5th century city/royal complex at Sigiriya, the Alahana parivena monastery complex at Polonnaruva in the north central province and the 17th and 18th century city of Kandy in central province) were selected under this program for research and conservation. A uniform set of methods in excavation and recording was prescribed for the project and an extensive program of excavation and conservation undertaken. The interest shown by socio-political and intellectual institutions of the country towards the selection of the sites for the Cultural Triangle project reflects the attraction of the great monuments for the nation. In epistemological terms, it was an attempt to harmonize post-independence ideology with a more scientifically rigorous methodology. The role of the project in developing research infrastructure and in archaeological capacity building has been remarkable. The Cultural Triangle project stands out as a significant turning point in the history of archaeological research in Sri Lanka.
Cultural continuity from prehistoric cultures using lithic technology to the emergence of iron technology became a major research interest in the 1980’s and 1990’s. The cemeteries of the iron-using culture excavated during that period produced an important artefact assemblage from a previously unexplained period of the island’s cultural history. The iron-using culture of Sri Lanka has been viewed through a ‘South Indian inspiration’ paradigm and this is still subjected to a wider discussion.
During the latter part of the 1980’s, an interest in the ‘common people of the past’ emerged among the archaeologist in the country. It was an attempt at a new point of departure and a reaction against the previously prevailing focus on the ‘temples, palaces, and tombs’ in the social history of the island. This reorientation mirrored a global trend towards a new social archaeology. One of the pioneering advocates of this emerging movement in 1989, Senake Bandaranayake launched the settlement archaeology project.  Unfortunately the project as well as this general trend within Sri Lankan archaeology was soon discontinued. Academic interest in the ‘common people of the past’ was apparently insufficiently grounded in the contemporary social context of Sri Lanka, but more detailed analysis is needed.
During the mid-1990’s, a research interest in the ‘Neolithic’ origins of the island emerged. The term Neolithic signifies a new technological era when both stone and metal had been used in parallel to each other. Archaeological materials associated with the Stone Age-Iron Age transition at a number of sites were re-examined from a ‘Neolithic’ perspective. No adequate explanation has been offered of the clear-cut break from the prehistoric Stone Age to supposed ‘Neolithic Age’ in the archaeological sequence. The search for a ‘Neolithic’ can be described as an ‘intellectual artifice’ inspired by the cultural development in Europe.
Some changes in the archaeological data acquisition occurred during the 1980’s and the 1990’s. The emphasis shifted from site-specific survey to regional scale survey. However, the theoretical developments of that period did not match the methodological improvements.
Knowledge is a product of its time. After the 1960’s, several major research works on the Sri Lankan past were inspired by influential socio philosophical thinking. For instance, the ‘privileged relics’ of the past were subjected to a deep scholarly concern. Buddhist architecture was theoretically explained for the first time through the view of the then dominant theoretical paradigms. At that time, most of the other research in archaeology of Sri Lanka carried forward the Indianization paradigm as the main theoretical frame of reference. Expansion of the Indian culture outside the Indian mainland has been termed as ‘Indianization’. During the 1960’s, the  idea of ‘Indianization’  became prominent as an explanatory tool for understanding the development of the South and Southeast Asian cultures. The cultural imperialistic notion of the Indianization idea has discredited it as a single explanatory theory.
The emergence of another line of research in the Sri Lankan archaeology is discernible from the late 1980’s and onwards. This represents the expansion of the research scope to a number of new fields. Notable examples are the maritime archaeology of the Galle harbour project, metallurgical studies in Alakolavava in Sigiriya and Samanalavava in your area, ecology and resource exploitation, animal Osteology related to archaeology settlements and environmental interaction and settlements and spatial interaction, numismatic studies in the wider Indian Ocean region and paleoclimatic studies in the Horton plains.
In the last decades of the last century and the early decades of the 21st century we are passing an ambitious path towards explaining our historical development with more clarity and confidence. Formulation of intelligible research programs on historically relevant themes on the basis of a viable research frame of reference are emerging. The belief of external influences like that of indianization paradigm did not survive and the focus on internal dynamics became the solid foundation of recent works. Explanation of historical continuities and changes has been considered as the objective of archaeology vs.  providing mere descriptions on popular themes to accomplish social nostalgia.
Under the aegis of these new developments now we know this island was colonized by the archaic Homo sapiens at least 125 000 yrs ago. Since that they had proliferated to the hinterland and made an adaptive response to the diverse environments in this country. Kuruvita, Kitulgala and Balangoda in your province became the key focal areas of this research program.  The leading and eminent figures of the prehistoric research in this country, Dr. P.E.P Deraniyagala and Dr. Siran Deraniyagala are from your area.  Once we thought that history of our civilization was supplanted by the so called Aryans who migrated from the northern part of the Indian subcontinent. New evidence are appearing to argue that it is not a correct historical assumption. As our historical chronicles describe, the Aryan migrants arrived here in 600 BCE. But now we know at least 1800 years before that we were in a position to cremate our deceased relatives and construct burial chambers to deposit their corporeal remains. We made polychrome clay pots using the wheel. The most striking feature of this age was the use of iron. We have clear evidence to prove that we invented the iron smelting technology to the world 4400 years ago. Rest of the world had acquired that knowledge 800 years later. Once again the Sabaragamuva area is becoming a key geographic focus to unveil such enigmatic information, which helps to reconstruct an important cultural trajectory of our country. According to the data surveyed and excavated in Haldummulla and its suburbs a new transformation of the Balangoda man could be proposed. During the mid Holocene the hunter-gatherers who occupied the upper montane region had faced the hardships of climatic change. The pollen concentration in the Horton plains shows a marked decrease of vegetation. It was due to the decline of the southwestern monsoon pattern. This climatic event is also evidenced in lake deposits in mainland India as well. Soon after this climatic deterioration, there was a wet phase resulting in an increase of the biomass. A period between 3000 and 2000 BCE, the Balangoda man took a new initiative to exploit floral resources as to a response to this fresh climatic makeover. We have evidence to show that for the first time he has made crude pottery in the cave situated in Walmeetalava in Haldummulla. They had experimented with sedentary life there. Our next field season will hopefully provides us micro fossils of the cereals they exploited and animals hunted for their food quest.
Dear friends, Let me conclude my keynote address mentioning one important thing. At least 5000 years ago our inventive ancestors had marched along the mountain slopes surrounded by the premises of your university. The wind that passes through your sophisticated laboratories carries their spirit. This landscape is induces creative thinking inherited from our native scientific knowledge.  I have no doubt that the Sabaragamuva University will be the intellectual hub of that tradition in the future. I wish you all a great success.  Thank you very much. .

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AN INTRODUCTION TO SRI LANKAN GNEISS AND GRANITE CAVES

R. Armstrong L. Osborne1, Pathmakumara Jayasingha2, Wasantha S. Weliange3
1Education & Social Work, A35, The University of Sydney, NSW, 2006, Australia, armstrong.osborne@sydney.edu.au
2Research Laboratory, Central Cultural Fund, 11 Independence Avenue, Colombo 07, Sri Lanka, jpathma@yahoo.com
3 Postgraduate Institute of Archaeology, Bauddhaloka Mawatha


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Fa Hien Cave

Fa Hien Cave

Commencing in 2008 with a focus on caves in metamorphic terrains, the project Cave Science Sri Lanka has investigated forty-eight caves. Thirty-seven caves have been mapped by the Sri Lankan members of the project, twenty-five have been investigated in more detail and samples have been collected from twelve caves for analysis. In addition to rockshelters, boulder caves, tectonic caves and carbonate karst caves developed in marble and dolomite four distinct types of caves, Tunnel Caves, Block Breakdown Caves, Arch Caves and Network Caves have been recognised in Proterozoic gneiss and Cambrian granite in Sri Lanka. While previous workers have suggested that these caves have either formed in what was called gneiss but was really carbonate rock, or are the spaces left behind in the granitic rock after bodies of carbonate rock were removed, field evidence suggests that phreatic solution of granitic rock and/or formation and removal of phantomized granitic rock play a significant role in speleogenesis.

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Abstract Volume: International Conference on Asian Art, Culture and Heritage, August 2013, Colombo, Sri Lanka

The abstract volume of the International Conference on Asian Art, Culture and Heritage held on August 21st-23rd  , 2013 at Sri Lanka Foundation Institute, Colombo Sri Lanka.

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Three inscriptions discovered in Delft Island

The marine archaeologists from the Maritime Archaeology Unit (MAU) of Central Cultural Fund (CCF) established in Galle in their archaeological explorations carried out in Delft Island in the North of Sri Lanka in August this year have discovered three inscriptions that have not been hither to revealed.

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Brahmi script

Brahmi script

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Tamil Inscription 01

Tamil Inscription 01

 

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Tamil Inscription 02

Tamil Inscription 02

It has been observed that many archaeological ruins and artifacts could be seen scattered all over the island. Among them are remains of three ancient stupas of different sizes. The three inscriptions could be seen among the paved stones around the biggest of the three stupas which has a diameter of 13.54 meters and circumference of 31.93 meters.

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Small Degaba

Small Degaba

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Large Degaba

Large Degaba

 

Two of the three inscriptions are in Tamil script and the other is in Brahmi script. According to scientific data of the scripts the two Tamil inscriptions belong to the 14 – 15 centuries while the inscription having Brahmi script would date back to the 1st or 2nd century say calligraphists. According to the portion of the inscription that is legible the old Brahmi inscription had been written in Sinhalese prakrit language says Lecturer of calligraphy and epigraph at Rajarata University Chandima Ambanwala.

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Galle Maritime Archaeology Unit - Research Team

Galle Maritime Archaeology Unit – Research Team

 

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Chandima Ambanwala

Chandima Ambanwala

 

The discovery is an important revelation among the discoveries in the archaeological sector carried out in recent times and further studies are ongoing regarding the script found in the inscriptions.

Note and Photographs are by Mahinda Karunarathan

Mahinda Karunarathna and Chandima Ambanwala are co-founders of archaeology.lk[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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