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Excavation unearths an ancient civilization

September 17, 2009

Traces of civilisation that existed 300 yrs before Vijaya’s arrival found in A’pura

by Cyril Basanayake, Anuradhapura corr, The Island.lk

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The research pit

Excavations at Atulu Nuvara (Inner City) of Anuradhapura have yielded evidence of an ancient civilization that had been engaged in the domestication of horses and cattle and wetland rice cultivation about 300 years before the arrival of Prince Vijaya.

Former Director General and present Advisor to the Department of Archaeology Dr. Siran Deraniyagala, under whose supervision excavations are being conducted, said the findings had been dated with the help of absolute dating techniques including Carbon-14 or radiocarbon dating system overseas.

Evidence of the ancient civilization had surfaced from a pit 22 feet below the ground level near the old Temple of Tooth Relic, old Vijayaba Palace and the Gedige Premises at Salgahawatte area in the Atulu Nuvara. The one-hundred-meter-long and 75-foot-wide pit had also produced evidence of the use of iron, earthen and ceramic ware, Dr Deraniygala told The Island.

Over 45 Carbon 14 tests had been conducted on the items unearthed from the pit, he said.

Dr. Deraniyagala said among the items found were potsherds bearing Brahmi inscriptions, teeth of horses, pebbles and fragments of gold jewellry. There was also evidence of brick walls, underground drains, wattle and daub structures and a Muragala (Guard Stone).

Dr. Deraniyagala said his research pit, which has layers producing a vertical outline of several different cultures, would not be filled but kept as it is as an exhibit after the conclusion of the on-going research project.

The research team comprises local experts and a group of research students of Prof. Kay Kohlmeyer from the Berlin University. Excavations Officer A. A. Wijeratne, Regional Excavations and Museums officer Gamini Navaratne, Archaeological Assistant Thusita Agalawatte were engaged in the excavations conducted under the supervision of Dr. Deraniyagala.

Dr. Deraniyagala said with the help of newfound evidence it could be concluded that there had been an advanced culture which was on par with any foreign culture in the region in 500 BC, 300 years before the arrival of Prince Vijaya, mentioned in Sri Lankachronicles.

The University of Berlin had assisted in the excavation as well as conservation of the artifacts found from the site, Dr Deraniyagala said.

courtesy: The Island

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