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
Book Launch

Book Launch, “Marga Puranaya” by Dr. P. Vidanapathirana

The book ‘Marga Puranaya’ by Dr. Vidanapathirana was launched on the 22nd of February 2017 at the Postgraduate Institute of Archaeology.

The ceremony commenced at 3pm with the welcome speech delivered by Dr. Arjuna Thanthirage. The Chief Guest for the ceremony was Prof. S. B. Hettiarachchi and Guest of Honor was Dr. Janaka Weerasinghe, Director of the PGIAR.

Speaking on her book, Dr. Vidanapathirana stated that this is the first comprehensive study on the ancient roads of Sri Lanka and that she focused on the different factors that led to road development in ancient Sri Lanka. One special highlight in her book is that of the location of Nandikadal in the North, a place which saw much action during the last days of the civil war; was in fact an important junction on the days gone by where 8 roads met and that the most complex road networks were in the North and East of the island. She said that 80% of the present road system which was developed by the British was based on the ancient roads.

Presenting the Book to Prof. Hettiarachchi

Further elaborating on this book, Dr. Weerasinghe during his speech stated that the late Prof. Senaka Bandaranayaka’s vision for the PGIAR was to the archaeology of the Common Man rather than to the glorious histories of Temples and Palaces; to this his student; Dr. Vidanapathirana has brilliantly elaborated in her empirically researched work. This book proves that all roads led to Anuradhapura and that the roads bound the city to all the regions. The main purpose of this complex road system was the ordering of the landscape and networking it, hence the reason Anuradhapura became the center of the network and not due to trade or other reasons. This work contains the first archaeological map of ancient roads as previous maps were based on simply historical facts. Dr. Weerasinghe concluded by saying that he wished this would inspire future researchers to explore the new avenues created through this book.

Addressing the gathering Prof. Hettiarachchi spoke on the importance of the reference of historical literary sources in conducting archaeological explorations to solve the contradictions in the stories by elaborating certain tales; and concluded that this book is an excellent example of an archaeological perspective on roads.

The book was officially launched by presenting the book to the Chief Guest and Guest of Honor by the author Dr. Vidanapathirana. The ceremony concluded at 4pm with the vote of thanks by Ms. Chandrika Godage, Senior Academic Registrar of the PGIAR.



Postgraduate Courses

Postgraduate Courses in Archaeology – Heritage – Museology at PGIAR

The Postgraduate Institute of Archaeology (PGIAR), University of Kelaniya is calling for applications for following postgraduate courses for the next academic year.