A 2,200-year-old piece of silk


By Sirimantha Ratnasekera

The Australian National University has dated a piece of silk cloth, dug up from excavations at the Delivala Stupa in Rambukkana, to be 2,200 years old, Director General of the Department of Archaeology Dr. Senarath Dissnayake told The Island yesterday.

"This piece of silk, found during an excavation in 2001, belonged to the second century BC and it is the oldest piece of textile found in Sri Lanka, according to the conclusions of the Carbon 14 dating process led by Prof Judith Cameron of the Australian National University," he said.

Dr. Dissanayake said that this artifact once again confirms the historical and archaeological evidences that Sri Lanka was a hub in the ancient maritime silk route. This also validates the historical accounts of trade and other links Sri Lanka had with China. Not only silk and spices but also Buddhism had traversed the ancient silk route.

"This had been used to wrap a metal relic casket which is a miniature replica of a stupa. The silk had been faded, therefore it is difficult to ascertain its original colour until further laboratory investigations," he said.

The silk had been adorned with beads embedded into it, Dr. Dissanayake said adding that the artifact was now kept at the Delivala Stupa site with security and if the need arose it would be shifted to the National Museum.

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