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Pune students deciphering prehistoric Sri Lankan ruins, piece by piece

The team, which includes experts from Deccan as well as other Indian institutes, will be excavating ancient Buddhist stupas and monasteries along with a number of prehistoric caves across 1,600 acres in Rassagala, commonly known as Rajagala. 

pune Updated: May 19, 2018 17:48 IST
Ananya Barua
Ananya Barua
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,students,archeology
The work will begin on May 20 and will go on till June 5.(HT REPRESENTATIVE PHOTO)

A team of archaeological experts from the Deccan college postgraduate and research institute will visit Sri Lanka for a special excavation. The visit is in association with the archaeology department of the university of Sri Jayewardenepur,Nugegoda.

The team, which includes experts from Deccan as well as other Indian institutes, will be excavating ancient Buddhist stupas and monasteries along with a number of prehistoric caves across 1,600 acres in Rassagala, commonly known as Rajagala.

Rajagala, which literally translates to the ‘monarch's rock’, is an archaeological site located in Sri Lanka’s Ampara district, which covers over 3,000 acres. The site consists of more than 600 prehistoric ruins, monuments and artifacts, with almost 100 of them being ancient stupas.

“Last year, we had taken a number of students to the site to gauge the scope for research and nature of the area. This is the second year that we are making the trip to this historic location. Rajagala is a highly inaccessible area covered in dense forest and is not frequently visited by people. We strategised a plan for excavation following the information we uncovered last year and the plan will be carried out by Indian experts over a period of more than 15 days,” said Vasant Shinde, vice-chancellor, Deccan college.

The work will begin on May 20 and will go on till June 5, he added.

“This time we are trying to excavate the caves and find more information about the stone age. Evidence suggests that people from the period had been living in the area before the Buddhist monasteries were established,” said Shinde.

The team will comprise of three excavators, two experts on the Buddhist period and architecture, one Deccan alumni and an expert on the stone age from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali, among others. Students ofthe university of Sri Jayewardenepur will also be a part of the project.

Hidden from the world, the site was not open to archaeological research until a few years ago. Following the involvement of Deccan college, the site has been a popular excavation site for students for the past four years. The collaboration between the Sri Lankan department of archaeologyand Deccan College also helped establish of a newarchaeological training centre at Rajagala.

First Published: May 19, 2018 17:44 IST