Rajagala excavations confirm chronicle accounts



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Text and Pic by Susantha Amarabandu,Ampara Corr


Archaeologists have found a stone sundial while excavating Rajagala historic religious site of which the date could be assigned to a period between 1,000 to 2,200 years.


The archaeologists have been excavating the site for the past three years and unearthed various artefacts, including the sun dial.


Prof. P.B. Mandawala of the Department of History and Archaeology of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura said that they had unearthed several building structures including a Daana Salawa (alms hall) of the ancient Rajagalathenna Vihara. According to historical sources, the Ariyawamsa Sutta had been preached at this site about 1,000 years ago. "We have dug up an asanaghara (an edifice set up to house the seat or throne) from the site. The sun dial is similar to another found at the Abhyagiriya site sometime ago. There is another small chaitya in the site but it had been plundered by the treasure hunters years ago."


Prof. Mandawala said that they had found stone tablets carved with the Buddha’s footprints. "The speciality is that the foot prints have been carved on both sides of the tablet. There were carvings of chathra dandu (parasols) on some of the tablets," he said.


They have commenced conserving a building from where an alms bowl made of stone was found. "We have not yet been able to identify for what purpose the building being conserved had been used then," he said.


Prof. Karunasena Hettiarachchi of the Department of History and Archaeology of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura said that according to the inscriptions found at the site the monastery containing four chaityas had been built around 119 BC by Prince Lajjathissa, who was the son of King Saddhatissa. There were around eight epigraphical records which mention the same fact.


Prof. Pathmasiri Kannangara of the same university said that explorations conducted by a team of experts from the university and the Department of Archaeology had identified around 300 sites of archaeological importance in the area. He said that a guardstone, a lamp, a crystal casket, an ancient coin, a pinnacle, a statue of a female dancer, a vaamana (dwarf) statue and ancient bricks have been found from the site.


The archaeologists and the officials of the Department of Archaeology held a pirith chanting ceremony at the site recently. The Ariyawamsa Sutta, too, had been recited. It was the first occasion after nearly 1,000 years the same Sutta had been recited in that location, the experts said.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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