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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.

Archaeological Sites around Dimbulagala: Part 01

Dimbulagala is a large isolated mountain situated in the North Central Province, east of Polonnaruwa. Its history dates back to the early historical period of Sri Lanka and was home to a Monastic complex during the Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa periods. Dimbulagala is presently most famous for the Dimbulagala Rajamaha Viharaya and its late chief incumbent the Ven. Sri Seelalankara Thero who had served the people of Dimbulagala for decades but was murdered in 1995 by the LTTE.

Archaeological Milestones in Sri Lanka: Part 01

By Chryshane Mendis Research into the field of Archaeology in Sri Lanka dates back to over 125 years, having being initiated by the British administration...

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.

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.

Untapped Archaeological Heritage: Muthugala

Muthugala, a quiet dry zone village situated in the Welikanda Divisional Secretariat in the Polonnaruwa District is a paradise of nature where man and wilderness live side by side. This untapped archaeological heritage of the ancient Sinhalese lies in the forests boardering the village and the Flood Plains National Park along the Mahaweli Ganga. To arrive here, one needs to arrive at Sewanapitiya junction which is 18km from Kanduruwela on the Batticaloa road and from there turn left on the road running along the canal, proceeding about a kilometer on this turn left once more along with the branching off of the canal. From there proceed along this for 5km passing lush green fields and home gardens to the village of Muthugala; from there turn left from the school along the bund of a small tank till the road ends at the forest, from there is an off road track which is a 10 minute hike to the site. The remains of the forest monetary is spread throughout that area on the rock outcrops surrounded by willus created by the Mahaweli River.

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.

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.

The Gates of Kandy: An Archaeo-historical Perspective of Balana

The Balana pass, the key to the Kandyan Kingdom was a pass on the southern edge of the Alagalla Mountain range from which ran the old Colombo Kandy road giving access to the mountain kingdom. This was the most important pass in the Kingdom with the other being at Galagedara, as the road coming from the lower plains climbs over a thousand feet in less than a mile over the pass to the plateau of the central highlands. The hill of Balana, being over 600m (GPS - N 7° 16.18116 & E 80° 29.77146) above sea level, fell under the ancient administrative division of the Four Korale (Sathara Korale) in the Galboda pattuwa. Balana is mentioned in the Trisinhale Kadaim Potha as being the boundary line which separated the Four Korales from the Uda Rata, and the maintenance of this post fell onto the Dissave of the Four Korales. Today Balana falls under the Central Province and is the also the boundary line between the Sabaragamuwa and the Central Provinces. Balana was a key point in the old road to Kandy (From Colombo via Kotte and Kaduwela to Sitavaka, Ruwanwella, Arandara, Attapitiya, Ganetanna and over Balana to Gannoruwa) which many a foreigner had written about its difficult climb.

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.

Defiling Modern Warfare: The Dutch Castle of the North

Sri Lanka is home to several Dutch forts found throughout the island in varying size; much of the Dutch forts have survived the ages and some being in the mint condition such as the massive Galle Fort which is a World Heritage Site. Another interesting fort known to many is the Jaffna fort situated in the heart of the Jaffna town bordering the lagoon. Out of the other Dutch forts, the Jaffna fort is the most geometrically perfect, being of an equal sided pentagon with five bastions in the corners and would have been the third largest Dutch fort in the island after Galle and Colombo.

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