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The Jungle Tide:\ud “Collapse” in Early Mediaeval Sri Lanka



This thesis reassesses the Early Mediaeval “collapse” of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, through explicit reference to the archaeological record. The study of Anuradhapura’s terminal period has been dominated by a reliance upon textual sources, resulting in a monocausal and politically charged narrative depicting an eleventh century invasion by the South Indian Colas as resulting directly in the collapse of Anuradhapura (Codrington 1960), bringing to an end over a millennium of rule from Sri Lanka’s first capital. Such is the dominance of this collapse “model” few alternative explanations for the abandonment of Anuradhapura have been posited, and just two alternative collapse models, a “malarial” model (Nicholls 1921; Still 1930) and an “imperial” model (Spencer 1983; Indrapala 2005), have been propounded. This thesis thus aims to test whether Anuradhapura truly “collapses”, and to test the established model for this apparent collapse.\ud After archaeologically defining collapse, the three collapse models are synthesised and translated into archaeological signatures (archaeologically visible characteristics and sequences). This thesis then presents and analyses data from over a century of archaeological investigations at Anuradhapura, focussing upon the datasets of the ASW2 excavations within its Citadel (Coningham et al. 1999 & 2006) and the recent Upper Malvatu Oya Exploration Project (UMOEP) archaeological survey of the hinterland. The data is summarised and presented graphically, facilitating comparison with the anticipated archaeological signatures of the three collapse models. The presence or absence of the archaeological characteristics of collapse are identified in each zone, testing whether Anuradhapura actually collapsed. The archaeological signatures of collapse for each of the three zones are then compared with the anticipated signatures developed from the three collapse models, before, finally, the archaeological “collapse” of Anuradhapura is related to collapse theory in an attempt to best understand the underlying dynamic processes. \u

Topics: archaeology, collapse, Early Mediaeval, Sri Lanka, Anuradhapura, Indian Ocean, Buddhism, urbanism, hinterland
Year: 2011
OAI identifier:
Provided by: Durham e-Theses

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