Batadomba Lena

Not to be confused with Batatota Lena

Batadomba Lena
Batadomba Lena Cave is a prehistoric rock shelter situated in Ratnapura District, Sri Lanka. It preserves evidence for the presence of H. sapiens foragers in the rain forest of southern Sri Lanka from ca. 36,000 cal BP onwards to the end of the Pleistocene (Perera et al., 2011).

The cave
Batadomba-lena is a small, northeast-facing rock shelter on the steep banks of a stream on the foothills of Sri Pada (Perera et al., 2011). Situated 460 m above sea level, it falls within the Wet  Zone, which has an annual rainfall of c. 2200–4000 mm (Perera et al., 2016). The cave measures approximately 15 m high, 18 m wide, and 25 m in length, totalling the internal cave area to 6,800 m2 (Sumanarathna et al., 2016).

Besides the main cave, there is a cluster of small caves (Abeyawardana, 2002).

Batadomba-lena is one of the most intensively researched prehistoric sites in Sri Lanka (Perera et al., 2016). Long inhabited by solitary Buddhist monks, the cave was first investigated from 1937 to 1940 by P.E.P. Deraniyagala who reported it as a Late Pleistocene-Holocene site of the Mesolithic Balangoda Culture (Abeyawardana, 2002; Kennedy & Deraniyagala, 1989; Perera et al., 2011). More systematic excavations were carried out at the site by the Department of Archaeology under S.U. Deraniyagala (1979-1986) and, in 2005, Nimal Perera (Perera et al., 2011).

Fragmentary and charred skeletal remains of more than 16 robust H. sapiens individuals of both sexes and of ages ranging from childhood to mature adulthood have been unearthed from the site (Kennedy & Deraniyagala, 1989; Perera et al., 2011). These remains were found in association with abundant material culture and animal and vegetable remain in Late Pleistocene habitation layers and these have been interpreted as fractional burials (Perera et al., 2011).

The excavations done during the period 1980-1982, confirmed the Late to Terminal Pleistocene age of the site, with most reliable dates falling in the period from ca. 30-27,000 BP onwards (Perera et al., 2011). A total of 173 bone tools were also found throughout the layers during these excavations (Perera et al., 2016).


1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2002. Heritage of Sabaragamuwa: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Sabaragamuwa Development Bank and The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 955-575-077-7. p.11.
2) Kennedy, K.A. and Deraniyagala, S.U., 1989. Fossil remains of 28,000-year-old hominids from Sri Lanka. Current Anthropology, 30(3), pp.394-399.
3) Perera, N., Kourampas, N., Simpson, I.A., Deraniyagala, S.U., Bulbeck, D., Kamminga, J., Perera, J., Fuller, D.Q., Szabó, K. and Oliveira, N.V., 2011. People of the ancient rainforest: Late Pleistocene foragers at the Batadomba-lena rockshelter, Sri Lanka. Journal of human evolution, 61(3), pp.254-269.
4) Perera, N., Roberts, P. and Petraglia, M., 2016. Bone technology from late Pleistocene caves and rockshelters of Sri Lanka. In Osseous Projectile Weaponry . Springer, Dordrecht. pp. 173-188.
5) Sumanarathna, A.R., Madurapperuma, B., Kuruppuarachchi, J., Katupotha, J., Abeywardhana, S.M.K. and Jayasinghe, P., 2016. Morphological variation and speciation of acavidae family: a case study from fossil and living species of Batadombalena cave pre-historic site in Sri Lanka. Annals of Valahia University of Targoviste. Geographical Series (2016), 16(2). pp.59-68.
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This page was last updated on 31 May 2023

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