Sigiriya frescoes to be scanned and digitised

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via FT Online, 20 October 2018: The frescoes of the Sigiriya World Heritage site are to be scanned and digitised.

Sigiriya Frescoes. Source: FT Online, 20181020

Sigiriya Frescoes. Source: FT Online, 20181020

The news that the Sigiriya frescoes and graffiti are being copied using laser technology is indeed a welcome move. The frescoes dating back to the 5th century are accepted as the oldest examples of mediaeval paintings in Sri Lanka. The need to preserve them for posterity has been discussed on and off and finally it has been made possible due to modern technology.

Source: Preserving for posterity | FT Online

Evidence for persistent forest reliance by indigenous peoples in historical Sri Lanka

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via Science Daily, 26 April 2018:

Working closely with Wanniyalaeto (Vedda) elders in Sri Lanka during the repatriation of skeletal remains, a team of researchers have demonstrated that while some indigenous hunter-gatherers in Sri Lanka made use of agricultural resources and trade connections with farmers and colonial power structures, others continued to subsist primarily on tropical forest resources as late as the 19th century.

Source: Evidence for persistent forest reliance by indigenous peoples in historical Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka National Museum launches app for visitors

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App launched in conjunction with the reopening of the National Museum in Colombo. It’s on Google Play here:

The solution developed for the Sri Lanka Museums has the following functionalities:
o Multi-lingual content base (Sinhala, English, Tamil) – Records and integrates the voice description of artifacts, as well as text contents of various museums in Sri Lanka with the native mobile applications. Recorded voice descriptions are played once the user enters the item code or scans the QR maker.
o Geo Location Based Augmented Reality – a module to locate the galleries based on the geo location of the visitor.
o Indoor Positioning System – Marker based (Fiducial) indoor positioning system in order that users may know the exact location they are at, thus being able to route their location accordingly.
o Social Media – Social media is integrated with the applications in order that visitors may share their experience.

Source: ICTA & National Museum launch Sri Lanka museums mobile app – Lanka Business Online

Sri Lanka’s Jaffna Fort undergoing restoration

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Jaffna Fort under renovation. Source: The Sun 20151104

A piece about the restoration of Jaffna’s 17th century fort, which has over the years been damaged due to the civil unrest in Sri Lanka.

Jaffna Fort under renovation. Source: The Sun 20151104

Jaffna Fort under renovation. Source: The Sun 20151104

Sri Lanka’s icon of colonial rule rises from the rubble
The Sun Daily, 04 November 2015

As an army of labourers churns out limestone bricks, archaeologist Prashantha Mandawala reflects on the ambitious task of restoring Sri Lanka’s centuries-old Jaffna fort, destroyed by ethnic war.

The project has so far included the dangerous task of clearing unexploded mines and shells from the seafront site and scouring the northern Jaffna peninsula for scarce limestone bricks to use for the rebuilding.

Sri Lanka’s separatist Tamil rebels laid siege to the European-built fort, branded a symbol of colonial oppression, during the conflict that raged on the island until 2009.

“There was damage due to the war. Artillery fire and things like that,” Mandawala, who is heading the mammoth restoration of the 17th-century complex.

“There was a lot of damage due to neglect also. Trees had grown inside causing damage to walls,” he said.

“Then there was also vandalism. Some people whose houses were damaged during the war had vandalised the fort to remove limestones to rebuild their homes.”

Full story here.

Artillery cannon found in Sri Lanka

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Artillery gun found in Galle. Source: Daily News Sri Lanka 20150928

Parts of an artillery cannon were found during construction in Sri Lanka.

Artillery gun found in Galle. Source: Daily News Sri Lanka 20150928

Artillery gun found in Galle. Source: Daily News Sri Lanka 20150928

Parts of artillery gun found near Galle Face
Daily News Sri Lanka, 2015092

Parts of an artillery gun with historical value was found in the Galle Face area yesterday.

Parts of the gun were detected by workers at a private construction site when they were excavating an area for construction, Military Spokesman Brigadier Jayanath Jayaweera told the Daily News. He said the main part of the gun is 26 feet in length.

Full story here.

Lost Sri Lankan site rediscovered

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An ancient temple site, noted to be looted by treasure hunters by the previous colonial government, was rediscovered in Sri Lanka’s Anuradhapura district.

Vijayaramaya rediscovered
Sunday Times, 30 August 2015

An ancient archaeological site of historic value was discovered by the Department of Archae-ology in the Anuradhapura District this week. Located a mile to the north from the famous Abhayagiri Vihara, the new site named ‘Vijayaramaya’ was found in a thick jungle by excavators. The 23-acre Vijayaramaya consists of ruins of a broken-down stupa, a shrine room, a poya house, halls and two ponds that date back hundreds of years.

Conservation work at the site is being conducted by the Central Cultural Fund (CCF) under the guidance of the Archaeological Department. Director in charge of Central Cultural Fund’s Anuradhapura project, Prof. T. G. Kulathunga, said the Vijayaramaya had been damaged by robbers.

Full story here.

Excavations at Polonnaruwa to be carried out for the next five years

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Source: 20150831

The world heritage site of Polonnaruwa in Sri Lanka will be the focus of archaeological excavations for the next five years.

Source: 20150831

Source: 20150831

Archaeological excavations in Polonnaruwa under a five year plan, 31 August 2015

The historic Polonnaruwa sacred city’s archaeological excavations commenced under a five year plan.
It has been implemented as an international excavation work under the Central Cultural Fund. The Archeological excavations of Polonnaruwa will take place until the year 2020, under the supervision of Professor of Archeology Robin Canham with the aim finding out more information about the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa.

The excavations were commenced from the ‘number two plot’ of Polonnaruwa Shiva Devalaya.

Full story here.

Study suggests that humans lived in rainforests longer than previously known

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A study published in Science dating teeth found in Sri Lanka suggests that humans had adapted to rainforests for longer than originally thought – the teeth date to around 20,000 years ago. This discovery might have possible implications to how we think about prehistoric human habitation of rainforests in Southeast Asia.


Toothy trail leads to rainforests
IOL, 16 March 2015

Direct evidence for human reliance on rainforest resources in late Pleistocene Sri Lanka
Science DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa1230

Teeth reveal humans were early rainforest-dwellers
ABC Science, 13 March 2015

Early humans took to the rainforests sooner than previously thought
UPI, 13 March 2015

Humans Adapted to Rainforests Long Before We Thought
University of Oxford, via Laboratory News, 13 March 2015

Rain Forest Fossil Suggests Earlier Human Presence Than We Thought [Link no longer active]
Pioneer News, 12 March 2015

Humans Relied on Rainforest Riches 12,000 Years Earlier Than Thought
Smithsonan, 12 March 2015

Human occupation of tropical rainforest habitats is thought to be a mainly Holocene phenomenon. Although archaeological and paleoenvironmental data have hinted at pre-Holocene rainforest foraging, earlier human reliance on rainforest resources has not been shown directly. We applied stable carbon and oxygen isotope analysis to human and faunal tooth enamel from four late Pleistocene–to–Holocene archaeological sites in Sri Lanka. The results show that human foragers relied primarily on rainforest resources from at least ~20,000 years ago, with a distinct preference for semi-open rainforest and rain forest edges. Homo sapiens’ relationship with the tropical rainforests of South Asia is therefore long-standing, a conclusion that indicates the time-depth of anthropogenic reliance and influence on these habitats.

Link to paper here.

CFP: 6th SSEASR Conference, Colombo, Sri Lanka


Calling for papers for the 6th South and Southeast Asian Association for Culture and Religion to be held in Sri Lanka in 2015.


Heritage as Prime Mover in History, Culture and Religion of South and Southeast Asia
6th SSEASR Conference, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Venue: University of Kelaniya, Kelaniya, Sri Lanka
Date: 4-11 June 2015
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‘Doorstep’ from Sri Lanka sells for £500,000 in auction

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A carved stone step from Sri Lanka that was used as a doorstep by a family in Exeter turns out to be a rare Buddhist temple step from Anuradhapura and has gone for over £500,000 at an auction.

Temple step from Sri Lanka, Daily Mail 2013042

Temple step from Sri Lanka, Daily Mail 2013042

1,300-year-old Buddhist temple stone used by family as a doorstep sells for £500,000 at auction after BBC’s Antiques Roadshow and Sotheby’s turned it away
Daily Mail, 23 April 2013
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