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Archaeological Sources of Sri Lanka : Inscriptions

Inscriptions can be classified into two types. They are

  1. On Metals - Eg. Panakaduwa Copper Plate.
  2. On Stones - Eg. Galpotha in Polonnaruwa.
Horizontal Stone Inscription
Horizontal Stone Inscription
Stone Inscriptions

The stone inscriptions are important sources to study the history of Sri Lanka. they help to verify the correctness and the authenticity of the information contained in literary sources.

The Stone Inscriptions are of 4 types
  1. Len lipi        (Cave Inscriptions)
  2. Giri lipi        (Rock Inscriptions)
  3. Tam lipi       (Pillar Inscriptions)
  4. Puwaru lipi   (Slab Inscriptions)
Vertical Stone Inscription
Vertical Stone Inscription
In the local sources of literature very little is mentioned about the local readers. But the stone inscriptions in Thammenna, Habessa, Kusalanakanda, Sandagiri Vehera, Yatahalena and Bowattegala mention about some of them. The Stone Inscriptions very often confirm the information given in the literary sources.

The information given about 'Dasa Maha Yodha' or ten giants(commanders) of king Dutugemunu in the 'Mahavamsa' is confirmed by stone inscriptions. Sithulpauwa stone inscription tells about Nandimitra (one of the dasa maha yodha). Well-elalugoda stone inscription gives information about Pussadewa(another one of dasa maha yodha).

The information get from these stone inscriptions proves that the 'Dasa Maha Yodha' in 'Mahavamsa' were real historical Characters and Not fictitious ones. 

Thought you enjoyed the article about Stone Inscriptions. With the hope of meeting you with a new post saying happy day for you!.
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Archaeological Sources of Sri Lanka : Coins

Coins are an important source that helps us to study the history of Sri Lanka. The oldest coins found in Sri Lanka are called the 'Has Ebu Kasapana' (Sealed or branded coins). Among the carvings on the 'Vahalkada' (gateway to the city) of the Dakkina Vihara in Anuradhapura a carving of a dwarf(Vamana) counting coins from a pot can be seen.

The symbols on coins, the dates mentioned on them, the metals in which they are made of, the finish or the craftmanship of coins and the places where they were found are some of the important aspects of coins as historical sources.

The guardstones of Abhayagiri are decorated with strings of coins. Of the two dwarfs 'Sanka and Padma Nidhi' in the lime tablets in Abhayagiri, falling coins can be seen in the Sanka Nidhi image. These "Has Ebu" coins were made of copper, bronze or silver. The following are some symbols found in "Has Ebu" Coins.

In addition to "Has-Ebu" coins, some other kind of coins were found at excavation sites in Anuradhapura, Kiribath Vehere and Digamadulla. These coins have the image of a tusker on one side and 'Svasthika' on other side.

Rankahawanu (Golden coins made out of gold) was another kind of coins used in Sri Lanka. These coins carried the image of "Kuvera" on both sides.

Sri Lakshmi coins too were found in different parts of the country. They were found specially in Mullaitiv, Kattarodei and Wallipuram. Every Lakshmi coin carries the image of Lakshmi on one side and the Swathika on other side.
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Foreign Literary Sources of Sri Lankan History

Perplus of Erythraean Sea Book
Foreign literary Sources.... about History of Sri Lanka. There are number of foreign literary sources and below I'll mention them to let them know about it.

Aristotle's 'De Mondo' written in the 4th century B.C. was the first foreign source which helps to get information about Sri Lanka. The books and reports written in Greek, Roman, Chinese, Arabic and Sanskrit are the main foreign sources available to us. When studying the history of Sri lanka, one has to refer to these sources too. These foreign sources give us very important information about the international trade relationships of Sri lanka.

According to the book 'Periplus of the Erythraean Sea', it is mentioned that the ancient Sri Lankans had well developed transactions with people in the North-West Indian coast. The book 'Persian Wars' of the prothopias describes the competition among Ethiopian, Persian and Indian merchants to promote trade links with Sri Lanka in the sixth century A.C.

The Pearl and Gem trade of Sri Lanka was highly discussed in 'Arthasasthraya' a book on economics written by Kautilya in India. Further information about the trade links between India and Sri Lanka can be found in the 'Divyavadan, Manimekalei and silappadikaram', all of which are Indian literary works.

The celebrated Chinese monk Fa-Hsian, in one of his records states that he had seen a silk fan donated by a Chinese monk to a Sri Lankan temple. The Chinese 'Thripitaka' has a list of names of the Sri Lankan monks who had visited China. From the records of Ibn Batuta, Cosmos, Marco Polo, Baldeaus, Robert Knox, Juan Rubeiro and John doily we can get valuable information about the ancient Sri Lanka.

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Local Literary Sources of Sri Lanka

local literary sources
Literary Source
In my previous post I talked about Historical Sources and I classified them. So as to that classification the first one is Local Literary Sources. From this post I'll let you know about Local Literary Sources. So here we go..

Local Literary Sources are crucial when studying the history of Sri Lanka. The main local literary sources are chronicles (Dynastic Histories) written in Sinhala or Pali. The oldest chronicle written in Pali is the "Dipavamsa". It was written in fifth century A.C.

'Dipavamsa' provides historical information about the island from the pre-historic era up to the time of king Mahasen. The main local literary source available at present to study the ancient history of Sri Lanka is the "Mahavamsa". The first part of 'Mahavamsa' was written in the fifth or sixth century A.C. The writing of this historical chronicle continues. Even today it is written in Pali as the ancient writers had done. The first part of 'Mahavamsa' provides information till end of the period of king Mahasen.

"Samanthipasadika" is another historical source that provides valuable information. The other important local literary sources are Thupavamsa, Bodhivamsa, Dahatuwamsa, Dhatawamsa. All of them were written in Pali.

Literary Source Letter
Later all these sources came to be written in Sinhala as "Sinhala Thupavamsa, Sinhala Bodhivasa, Sinhala Dhathuvamsa, Dalada Siritha and Daladha Poojawaliya". Apart from them 'Nikaya Sangrahaya' and the last two chapters of 'Rajavaliya' are considered valuable local literary sources.

In addition to these main literature sources number of other sources are also available 'Sandesha Kavya (Epistles), Kavyasekaraya, Amavatura' etc.

In order to establish the authenticity of the contents of these various literary sources, It is essential to leave out the exaggerations, false and unreliable information contain there in.

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The Great Historical Sources of Sri Lanka

History Letter

Hope you enjoyed my previous articles. So from this article I give you information about Historical Sources of Sri Lanka.So easy showing I can classify Historical sources as follows...

1. Literary Sources
2. Archaeological Sources
  • Coins.
  • Inscriptions.
  • Ruins.
  • Gold/ Copper/ Lime plates
Some of the sub titles mentioned here are published and you can read them.In the next post I will describe these sub titles with much information. Hope you'll enjoy it. 

With the hope of meeting you with a new post saying happy day for you!. 
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The Value of Studying History

Hope you enjoyed my first post about History called 'What is History? The Smart Introduction'

History is a valuable subject that shows the way to study all other subjects. It is a subject that presents a lively conversation between historians and the past events. It also helps to study about and be with the characters you liked most and also do some service to mankind emulating them. According to C.P. Heal history is a subject that helps you to acquire knowledge, tolerance and strength for criticizing things. History gives the access to inter-human relationships.

The study of history helps us to admit logically what we got from other nations. At the same time it helps us to show other nations what our country can give them. This will help us to understand the mutual relationships of nations.

The study of history gives us a suitable background to be with the world society. Thus, history can be considered a subject that promotes international unity. Students of history can gain a subject based discipline. One can develop the knowledge about other countries studying the history books written about them.

History is not a subject confined only to that subject matter, but a guide for knowledge for all other subjects. It provides a background knowledge about the events leading to a methodical study of any other subject.

Consider the case of a student studying medicine. Still he has to study some of the hypotheses presented by Hipocrates, (The father of modern medicine) who lived in Greece in the 4th century B.C.

Every student of History will get some idea about Herodotus, (The father of history) who lived in Greece in the 4th century B.C. This shows how history leads the way to study all other subjects.

The task of a historian is not to cling  on to the past or to dissociate from the past, but to resort to the past as a key to understand the present.

When studying history a person becomes well disciplined as he associates himself withe distinguished characters of the past. It improves his ability of observing the past. Comparing the past and the present he gets and insight to evaluate the social and cultural values of time he is studying. He is able to identify and evaluate national and international values. History will help us to develop international relationships providing necessary information to study about the people of other countries and their behavioral patterns.

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What is History..? The Smart Introduction

  • History is gateway to all subjects.
Isurumuniya Love Couple
As I said in my welcome post, I came up with my first real post about history. I'm hoping to make you understand about What is History? Soo I bring you this post..

The word "History" is derived from the Greek term "Istoria". In Greek "Istoria" means what we come to know as a result of an experiment. The English meaning of the word "History" too is similar to that meaning. History is a subject which shows clearly how the human society developed "This happened like this" is one of the oldest definitions of history. However, this definition does not clearly answer the question 'What is history?' The task of history is to observe the political, economic and cultural  environment of human beings who lived in past, how their present conditions developed on those experiences and how they should plan their future based on them.

History explains how time and space influenced man. According to Collingwood we study history to get a clear understanding about particular state of affairs. According to Bradely, History is the only story of humanity which acts differently at different situations. T.S. Eliot says that if a person could study the life of a society of another period he studies his own life.

History is mother of all other sciences. Trevylian says history is not an isolated subject, but a mixture of all other subjects. According to H.G. wells, human history is the history of human ideologies. "History teaches who the man is and what the man has done" says Collingwood. History is the gate way to all other subjects.

History is the record that provides a critical analysis of the past of a nation through various sources and other means of information. History is a phenomenon that changes rapidly. Professor Jeofry describes about history as a subject that presents rapid changes. History shows that there is no value for anything if it does not change.

Teaching only modern history makes one learn what is closer to him, but not what is far away from him. However, once you learn about past you will get a clear understanding about the past as well as the present. History is a study that concerns about the past with perspective of the present. It is a subject that should be recorded and evaluated. The past the historians studies is not a dead concept but a living one. Hence historians must have a creative vision when referring to the past.

In the book, "What is History?" E.H. Carr states that the task of the historian is not to present how something actually happened  but to evaluate what had happened. Thus, History is an everlasting conversation between the past and the present. 

With the hope of meeting you with a new post saying happy day for you!. 
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