Kuragala recognised the oldest archaeological site in Intermediate Zone


by Dasun Edirisinghe

The Beta Analytic Institute of Miami, Florida that analysed the soil samples excavated from the ancient Kuragala site in Balangoda, has said it is the oldest archaeological find so far in the Intermediate Zone of the country, according to Director General of Archaeology Dr Senarath Dissanayake.

Dr. Dissanayake said that according to the radio-carbon dating done by the US institute using sophisticated technologies, the Kuragala site had five layers of human habitations from 16,000 to 6,000 years before the present age (BPA). "This is the oldest date for a site inhabited. This seconds the previous first which was found at Bellanbendipelessa. The Bellanbendipelessa was dated 13,000 years BPA."

The Department of Archaeology has conducted extensive excavations in the Kuragala site from April to December last year. The caves at the Kuragala site had been used as a Buddhist monastery during the period between 3rd Century BC to First Century AD, Dr Dissanayake said. Some of the caves had been inhabited by the humans in the pre-historic period.

During the excavations, the archaeologists had found stone tools, fossilized bone fragments and a complete human skeleton which was later sent to the University of Oxford for DNA and other testing, Dr Dissanayake said, adding that the skeleton would be returned to Sri Lanka once the scientific testing was over.

The other most striking discovery from the site was the evidence that humans lived in the Kuragala caves had close links with coastal areas. Among the items found were sea shells, shells of clams living in the sea, indicating that the humans who lived there during the prehistoric times had consumed them.

The Department of Archaeology would conduct further excavations in the year 2015 to study the settlement patterns of the prehistoric man, Dr. Dissanayake said.

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