Sunday, 20 May 2018

Archaeological findings open new chapter: Prof. Raj Somadeva

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In the course of Sri Lanka’s written history extending over 2,500 years, the continuous research has bought to light many prehistorical facts that has marked a turning point in the history of Sri Lanka and open up vast new fields in archaeological research. There are many places where the evidence of the prehistoric age has been discovered by archaeologists during the excavations in pre historic sites such as Kithulgala Belilena, Bulathsinghala Pahiyangala lena and Ibbankattuwa.

In the history of our country, the way the Stone Age connected to the Iron Age or the way the Metal Age connected to the historical Age haven’t been studied yet. A research project has been carried out since 2010 by the Post Graduate Institute of Archeology of the University of Kelaniya with the objective of studying and discovering suitable evidence and it is named as “the Hunters in Transition”. This research project consists of six members where Senior Prof. Raj Somadeva of the Postgraduate Institute of the University of Kelaniya heads the team of researchers.

Prof. Raj Somaradeva’s excavations are being carried out in the Bat cave at Weligapola, Paragahamadiththa in Balangoda, to find out the evidence of the hunters who lived about thousands of years ago and their transformation from the hunting age to the agricultural age. Excavations in the cave have found evidence of Homo sapiens who lived in the inland parts of Sri Lanka about 5000-6000 years ago.

Professor Raj Somadeva said: “The constellation carvings in the cave proved the transformation of the man who lived about 5000-6000 years ago from the hunting age to the agricultural age. There are 19 pores in close proximity. The people lived in these caves used these constellation carvings on the stone as a criterion to identify seasons. In the summer night sky, the prominent constellation Orion, which is in the shape of a hunter located on the celestial equator, is brighter and visible to the countries in the Northern hemisphere. During the spring season, the brightness of the star reduces. Therefore, with the gradual transition from hunting & gathering to agriculture, the man used to look up at the Orion in the night sky and decided the time to cultivate, to crop and to identify the seasonal changes. So, they have used the carving of the constellation as a calendar. We witnessed a similar one during the excavations on the Salt Cave (Hunu Galge) in Illukkumbura. Since we witnessed only one of that kind we didn’t pay much attention to it. We thought it was a natural situation or a puncture formed when hammering “Kekuna seeds”. However, we came to the above conclusion because a similar carving was soon found in the Bat cave which is located nearby.”

“Especially, the archaeologists in China also have found a similar carving of a constellation. The Chinese archaeologists have found that it is dated back to 4500 BC or even earlier. They also believe that it symbolizes the Constellation Orion. 35 varieties of crop seeds which proved that the early man had depended on crop seeds for food were found. We also have found nearly 10 stone implements used by early humans who lived in these parts of the country including a hunting implement which could he used to strike animals and hunt them down. It can be believed that the ancient people in Meddekanda cave and Ilukkumbura Cave had a culture where they shared the food and other things. The crop seeds found in this cave could have been grown in this region, “further said the professor.

A rock bed which has evidence of pre-historic cartography has been discovered, in a natural cave at Badhahena, Pinnagala village, paragahamadiththa, Opanayaka in Balangoda. Prof. Somadeva noted, “The survey into the Badhahena cave has revealed a natural rock with deep intricate indentations on its surface in an attempt to reproduce a basic idea of the environment surrounding the cave. About 18 similar maps have been discovered, among them this rock bed in the Badhahena cave was the first and the largest rock bed with deep intricate indentations on its surface found in Sri Lanka. Each exquisite indentation – over 500 which have been recorded – made using primitive tools would represent an area of 25 square kilometers of the primitive landscape, that was seen by man during his excursions outside. This “primal map” used by the human ancestors is speculated to have attempted to illustrate several geological locations in the area, for an example the areas without intricate indentations can be guessed as forests and 20 other locations indicated in the map have also been identified. Further archaeological excavations will commence next year with the hopes of making more discoveries”.

All these discoveries require a new discourse in the history of Sri Lanka. So that, it will be possible to build a proper discourse on the unique cognitive tradition in Sri Lanka which shaped the culture of Sri Lanka by the immigrant homo sapiens who lived in this country 2500 years ago and even earlier. Prof. Raj Somadewa stressed that the continuous research will bring to light many historical facts that would mark a turning point in the history of Sri Lanka and open up vast new fields in archaeological research.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 September 2017 08:55


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