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Durham University

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Anuradhapura (Sri Lanka) Project: The Citadel (Phase I)

A research project of the Department of Archaeology.


The UNESCO site of Anuradhapura, royal capital for 1500 years, is one of Sri Lanka's most important archaeological and religious sites. In order to test the assumption that it developed through contact with the Mauryan empire in c. 250 BC, and to provide a structural and artefactual sequence, trench ASW2 was excavated between 1989 and 1994 with sponsorship from the Society for South Asian Studies, The British Academy, the Ancient India and Iran Trust, the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research and the Sri Lankan Department of Archaeology. Measuring 10 metres by 10 metres and 10 metres deep, ASW2 provided a unique sequence from an Iron Age village to a Mediaeval metropolis and allowed our team from the Universities of Durham, Bradford, Leicester and CNRS to re-evaluate Anuradhapura’s growth. Significantly, growth occurred well before Mauryan contact as the city’s trade and exchange networks expanded beyond its hinterland to the coast in order to later articulate with trading communities as far east as Vietnam and as far west as Egypt.


Coningham, R.A.E. 2006. Anuradhapura, Volume 2: The Artefacts. Society for South Asian Studies (British Academy) Monograph no. 4, Archaeopress, Oxford.
Coningham, R.A.E. 1999. Anuradhapura, Volume 1: The Site. Society for South Asian Studies (British Academy) Monograph no. 3, Archaeopress, Oxford.

The 10m deep section of Trench ASW2 in the Citadel of Anuradhapura


From the Department of Archaeology