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Treasure hunting and the illegal looting of archaeological sites are becoming an increasing and worrying trend in Sri Lanka.

Archaeological Crimes in Sri Lanka 2012. The Sunday Times 20130210

Archaeological Crimes in Sri Lanka 2012. The Sunday Times 20130210

Archaeological sites islandwide plundered for priceless artefacts
The Sri Lanka Sunday Times, 10 February 2013

Well organised network of gangs equipped with sophisticated machinery openly ‘excavate’ ancient temple lands. Namini Wijedasa reports

The voice at the end of Inspector Rohana Chaminda’s line was agitated. There were “men in ties” scoping out his temple, it said. Could the police please come and see what this was about? It was the Chief Incumbent of the Kanabisawaramaya Temple in Wellawaya, calling on Wednesday. He was suspicious, because this was the third time in recent weeks that such a group was visiting. Their pretexts seemed hollow and they were overly interested in the location of monuments and ruins.

“Get their identities, apey hamuduruwaney,” advised Inspector Chaminda, Officer-in-Charge (OIC)- Archaeology Dept’s Antiquities Protection Division in Colombo, promising to come within a week.

This was no laughing matter. Kanabisawaramaya is an ancient temple with an unexcavated dagoba and many ruins. Experience had taught both the Inspector and the Chief Incumbent to be wary of people “collecting intelligence” at such places.

In 2012, there was a 70% rise in plunder of archaeological sites over the previous year. Statistics from the Archaeological Dept show that the number of incidents jumped from 220 to 370—more than the number of days in a year.

Full story here.

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