Mayakkai Vivaparimalai Prehistoric Site

Mayakkai Vivaparimalai Prehistoric Site is situated in Jaffna District, Sri Lanka.

The Mayakkai site with limestone caves located near Point Pedro is said to be observed for the first time in 1979 by Prof. Sellaiah Krishnarajah, an academic from the University of Jaffna (Dias et al., 2016). Krishnarajah along with Prof. P. Pushparatnam and several others explored the site again in 1984 and found several stone implements related to human settlement (Dias et al., 2016; Wijebandara, 2014). From the overall evidence found, they suggested the cave site as a prehistoric habitation site but that opinion was refuted by another academic from the University of Jaffna, Prof. P. Ragupathy who believed the site is not a prehistoric habitation site but a stone quarry site (Dias et al., 2016).

The stone implements collected by Krishnarajah were not extensively investigated by other academics due to several reasons such as the Sri Lankan Civil War that lasted nearly three decades across the North-Eastern region of the country. However, in 2011, the samples were taken to Colombo and further studied by several scholars including Siran Deraniyagala and Nimal Perera (Dias et al., 2016). The studies identified the stone implements as tools belonging to the ancient Stone Age (Dias et al., 2016).

The early evidence about humans in Sri Lanka is found in several places in the country such as in Ratnapura Beds and in the Iranamadu Formation (Perera, 2014). A large bifacially flaked quartz point which was found from a basal gravel exposure of the Iranamadu Formation at Minihagal-Kanda (a place located in Southern Sri Lanka) has been categorised as Middle Palaeolithic (broadly spanned from 300,000 to 30,000 years) by P. E. P. Deraniyagala (Perera, 2014). However, according to some, the age of the stone implements of the Mayakkai site extends to about 600,000 years back (Dias et al., 2016). Some Chert-made stone implements found from the site are believed as the Acheulean tools used by H. erectus in the Lower Palaeolithic Period [(around 3 million to 300,000 years) Dias et al., 2016; Wijebandara, 2014].

However, no reliable evidence has yet been documented about the Lower Palaeolithic Period of Sri Lanka (Perera, 2014). Therefore, carrying out a scientific excavation is important to obtain a proper understanding about the stone implements found from the Mayakkai Vivaparimalai site.

1) Dias, M.; Koralage, S.B.; Asanga, K., 2016. The archaeological heritage of Jaffna peninsula. Department of Archaeology. Colombo. pp.162, 200-201.
2) Perera, H.N., 2014. Prehistoric Sri Lanka. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka, pp.23-41.
3) Wijebandara, I.D.M., 2014. Yapanaye Aithihasika Urumaya (In Sinhala). Published by the editor. ISBN-978-955-9159-95-7. pp.2-3.

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This page was last updated on 15 February 2023
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