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Durham University

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Publication details for UNESCO Professor Robin Coningham

Bailiff, I.K., Lacey, H.R., Coningham, R.A.E., Gunawardhana, P., Adikari, G., Davis, C.E., Manuel, M.J. & Strickland, K.M. (2013). Luminescence dating of brick stupas: an application to the hinterland of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. Antiquity 87(335): 189-201.

Author(s) from Durham


The domed stupas are among the most distinctive of South Asia's religious monuments and have been shown to be sensitive indicators for their society. Since arguments for economic and political change depend on accurate dating, and since the stupas are largely composed of brick, the authors here assess the potential for dating building sequences by applying optically stimulated luminescence to brick fabric. As so often, good scientific dates obtained from specimens must be tempered by their context: brick may be replaced or recycled during repair and embellishment. Nevertheless, the method promises important insights by distinguishing different episodes of building, and so writing ‘biographies’ for stupas with different functions.