Ibbankatuwa Megalithic Burial

The early proto historic period in Sri Lanka is roughly taken to be 1000 to 500 BC. Though much debated, the term ‘proto history’ refers to the in between period of pre history and written history. The Ibbankatuwa burial ground which is located close to Dambulla in the North Central province of Sri Lanka, is dated at 890 BC. The burials here are of clan based communities. Nomads. They lived in the floodplains. The burials don’t show an individualistic approach as per archaeological analyses. The burials are the only static thing these people kept. Their settlements were mobile. They were agro-pastoral communities and sedentarism came later on.

When we say Megalithic we refer to the iron age of the island and their burials were of stone, which is why it is Megalithic. Mesolithic are clay burials. Megalithic are stone. The burials include the Dolmen style. The rocks are not carved. They are broken bits brought and assembled from a rock mountain closeby. Bio type granite is the rock used for these burials.


The Megalithic people used iron tools but not to fashion the burials. The iron tools are found in the burials. The burials included clay urns, Black & Red ware pottery, gold beads, terra cotta beads as well as Carnelian beads. Carnelian is found in our region. It’s a heated form of Chalcedony. Carnelian, Agate, Onyx are all heated forms of Chalcedony. The creation of adornments like beads and chains are indicative of a sophisticated society that existed at the time.


This burial type is what went into the stupa, and eventually into the stupa garbhaya with the advent and evolution of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.

At Ibbankatuwa there are symbols on some of the rocks of the burials which are not Pali but may have been a code of symbols that the Megalithic people used.

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