Carbon dating in US tallies with accounts in chronicles about Sigiri frescoes


By Dasun Edirisinghe

Assigning a scientific date done with the use of most sophisticated dating techniques in the US on a piece of charcoal recovered embedded in Sigiri frescoes tallied with accounts found in ancient chronicles, Director General of Archaeology Dr Senarath Dissanayake said yesterday.

Dr. Dissanayake told The Island that the Florida-based Beta Analytic Institute considered the world’s largest professional radiocarbon dating laboratory had assigned the piece of charcoal recovered from the frescoes belonging to between 390 to 540 AC. "According to historical evidence from the chronicles, King Kasyapa built the Sigiri rock fortress and ruled between 473 to 491 AC.

Thus, the scientific dating tallies with the chronicle accounts and with that scientific evidence it could be substantially concluded that the Sigiri murals were done during his time," Dr. Dissanayake said.

He said a team of archaeologists engaged in conservation of Sigiriya frescoes had found the piece of charcoal embedded in the plaster layer of one of the 22 frescoes in the Deraniyagala cave there in July this year and The Island exclusively reported the finding on its July 28 issue.  It had been discovered by a team led by Archaeology Research Assistant T. K. Wijesinghe. The department took immediate action to send Dr. Nimal Perera to the site to obtain samples of the piece of charcoal.

There are 23 major paintings in the Sigiriya rock and around 50 others in caves near the base of the rock. The paintings found in the Deraniyagala cave are considered prominent. There are around 22 images of women and other drawings in this cave.

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