H. Nimal Perera (born December 1953) received his degree in Archaeology, Geography and Political Science (BA University of Peradeniya 1979) and went on to postgraduate studies in Archaeology at the Postgraduate and Research Institute of the University of Pune, India, in which he passed the M.A examination in Archaeology with a First Class (1992). He joined the Archaeological Department of the Government of Sri Lankan in 1982 as a Technical Assistant in the Excavations Branch which is in charge of scientific excavations throughout the country. Thereafter he worked under the tutelage of Dr Siran Deraniyagala and steadily progressed up to the position of Assistant Director (Excavations) of the Archaeological Department.
Nimal Perera’s functioning in the latter capacity was primarily research orientated with emphasis on Sri Lanka’s prehistoric period (beyond 1000 BC) while pioneering in its protohistoric ( 1000-500 BC) and early historic (500 BC -300AD) archaeology as well. He successfully completed his PhD (Australian National University) in 2007. This dissertation constitutes a vital step in the execution of Stage V of the long-term research design for prehistory launched by the Archaeological Department.
This work investigates the island’s hunter-gatherer archaeology between the Late Pleistocene and the mid-Holocene, with lowland Wet Zone rockshelters as the principle topic of study. It synthesises past and current archaeological research in the island as well as presenting new findings from excavations in the Batadomba-lena rockshelter and the open-air site of Bellan-bandi Palassa. The excavation of Batadomba-lena has provided fresh data for understanding human adaptations to the changing environment between approximately 36,000 and 12,000 years ago. Notably, it has demonstrated that a rainforest environment persisted throughout this period in the environs of the site; that the climate was cooler at around the Last Glacial Maximum; and that intensive occupation, succeeded by increased attention to the management of plant resources, followed the Last Glacial Maximum.
Nimal Perera has directed a number of excavations in late Pleistocene-early Holocene rock shelters and open air sites where he pioneered application of geoarchaeological and bioarchaeological methods. He has authored the most up-to-date overview of the island’s prehistory. He is the national expert on lithics analysis and has collaborated successfully with other prehistorians, both national and international, in several research projects in Sri Lanka.
While Nimal Perera’s research continues on the lines set out above as Assistant Director for research excavations (2000 to present) of the Archaeological Department, he has served as the Acting Deputy Director-General of Archaeology of Sri Lanka since the year 2008.