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Palaeo-climate change recordings of Sri Lanka in last two millennia with reference to key historical records Poorna Yahampath Research Scholar - University.

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Presentation on theme: "Palaeo-climate change recordings of Sri Lanka in last two millennia with reference to key historical records Poorna Yahampath Research Scholar - University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Palaeo-climate change recordings of Sri Lanka in last two millennia with reference to key historical records Poorna Yahampath Research Scholar - University of Sri Jayawardanapura, Sri Lanka. Res: 112, Piliyandala Road, Maharagama, Sri Lanka. +94-71-825-1765; poorna.yahampath@gmail.com 1

2 Outline Present geography/ climate/ seasons of Sri Lanka Scoping of the study Historical recording sources Direct recordings Indirect reflections/ recordings Discussion 2

3 Preface: “Palaeo-climate change recordings of Sri Lanka in last two millennia with reference to key historical records” is a part of on-going research of “Reconstruction of past environment through palaeo-bio-geo-stratigraphy in the context of present geography, Ratnapura – Sri Lanka”. Documentary evidence of historical recordings, generally limited to regions/countries with long literary traditions and Sri Lanka is entitled by having more than 2500 years of written history, also which was varied by archaeological attributes and epigraphs. Prior to written historical recordings in 900 – 600 BCE, Sri Lanka has long Pre-historical and Proto- historical evolutionary history that reflected via Archaeology, Paleontology, Palaeo-ecology… 3

4 Palaeo-historical summary: Geological time Quaternary Period Cultural Phase Proxy dataYears B.P. Pleistocene EpochPaleolithic Stone artifacts and assemblages > 125,000 78,000 MesolithicStone and bone artifacts/tools, Human (AMH) fossils and assemblages, Fauna and Floral fossils, Pollens and microfossils Since 40,000 to 17,500 and 5,000 Holocene Epoch Stone implements, pottery, iron remains, settlements, seeds Since 5,000 to 3,000 Neolithic Proto-historySettlements, Iron technology, Irrigation, Domestication, Agriculture Since 3,000 4

5 Sri Lanka, its locality, climate zones Wet Zone Intermediate Zone Dry Zone 5

6 Geography at a glance…: Geographically lies surrounded by the Indian Ocean between 5º 52´N - 9º 54´N and 7º 30´E - 81º 55´E; to the southwest of Bay of Bengal and southeast of Arabian Sea. Sri Lanka is a small fragment of an ancient super continent Pangea. After broke up the Pangea into different plates and platelets, Indian plate including Sri Lanka was drifted northwards and finally located in present position. Both India and Sri Lanka stand on the same continental shelf. The land area is 65,525 km 2 of the country and internal waters with 1,570 km 2 area. A highland massif, situated in the south-centre, surrounded more or less by an intermediate zone of upland ridges and valleys at a lower elevation. On the basis of height and landforms Sri Lanka could be divided roughly into six topographical regions; The Central Highlands, The Southwest country, The East and Southeast country, The uplifted belt of lowlands, uplands and highland, The Northern lowlands and The coastal fringe. Climate is entirely tropical. Humidity: 70 – 90 % in the southwest and mountainous areas. Mean temperature ranges from 16 °C in the Central Highlands to 32 °C on the northeast coast. Rainfall Influenced by the monsoon winds in four seasons; South-West Monsoon, North-East Monsoon and Two Inter-Monsoons. 6

7 Geography at a glance…: Climatic zones formed accordingly monsoon climates are Wet Zone (mountains and the south western part of the country, mean annual rainfall > 2500 mm), Intermediate Zone (between Wet Zone and Dry Zone, rainfall 1,750 to 2,500), Dry Zone (southeast, east, and northern parts, rainfall 1200 - 1900 mm) and Arid Zone (northwest and southeast coasts, rainfall 600 - 1200 mm). Vegetation of Wet Zone representing Lowlands Tropical Evergreen Forests at southwest lowlands, Subtropical Evergreen Forests at temperate climates grow in the higher altitudes, Mountain vegetation at the highest altitudes. Dry Zone vegetation representing flora in dry lowlands and typical ground cover is scrub forest. Present forest reserves covered only one-fifth of the land. The south western interior contains the only large remnants of the original forests of the wet zone. Biological diversity is remarkable with high proportion of endemic species among its flora and fauna. 23% of the flowering plants and 16% of the mammals are endemic. Species recorded as Amphibian 102 + (E: 88+) species, Reptilian 184 (E: 105) species, Aves 482 (E: 33) species and Land Mammalia 91(:16) species. Geology is Archaeic rocks of Precambrian age (kondhalite and charnokite) cover most of the island. Miocene limestone underlies the Jaffna Peninsula and the northwestern coastal regions, Jurassic deposits occur in two small pockets in Tabbova and Andigama. 7

8 Sources of historical records in Sri Lanka, including hints on environmental/climate change In Sri Lanka exact rainfall figures and records of droughts and floods are available only from 1869 onwards. The chronicles, mainly the Mahavamsa and the Deepavansa, which contain a continuous dynastic and religious history. Deepavamsa – Written before 5 th Century CE. historical information provided since 6 th Century BCE. The Oldest chronicle. Author not found. Mahdavamsa – Written in 6 th Century CE. historical information provided since 6 th Century BCE. Second oldest and most descriptive chronicle having 90 Chapters…etc Authors are Mahanama monk and others. Sammohavinodani – Written in 5 th Century CE Author is Buddhgosha Monk. Wansathappakasivi – Written in 7 th or 8 th Century CE. as a supportive Chronicle for Mahdavamsa, historical information provided since 6 th Century BCE. Author is Mahanama monk. Pujavaliya – Written in 1236 – 1271 CE. Information referred from Mahdavamsa/Deepavamsa and important to clarify some information. Author is Buddhaputhra monk. Rajavaliya, Thupavamsa, Rasavahini (14 th Century)… 8

9 Method: Information flow of the Chronicles Original Palm Leaves Chronicles (Ola Leaves ) Copies of Palm Leaves Chronicles Generations Printed Chronicles Originals Editions of Printed Chronicles Originals Analysis Books of Chronicles 9

10 Examples: 10

11 South Asian Monsoon System Indian subcontinent Sri Lanka Two branches based on their spatial spread over the sub- continent:  Arabian Sea Branch  Bay of Bengal Branch Two segments based on the direction of rain bearing winds:  South-West Monsoon (SW Monsoon)  North-East Monsoon (NE Monsoon) Two rain periods based on time of the year called:  Summer monsoon (May to September)  Winter monsoon (October to November) North-East Monsoon South-West Monsoon 11

12 Sri Lanka present monsoon system 12 First Inter-monsoon Season (March - April) Southwest - monsoon Season (May - September) Second Inter-monsoon Season (October-November) Northeast - monsoon Season (December - February)

13 Historical kingdoms of Sri Lanka Dry Zone Kingdoms (400 BCE to 1200 CE) Anuradhapura Polonanruwa Sigiriya Ruhuna Intermediate Zone Kingdoms (1200 to 1300 CE) Dambadeniya Yapahuwa Kurunegala Wet Zone Kingdoms (1300 – 1815 CE) Gampola Raigama Kotte Sithavaka Kandy Sigiriya Ruhuna 13

14 Historical setting Phase 1 : Mesolithic (> 1800 BCE) Phase 2 : Mesolithic Iron age transition Phase 3 : Early Iron age (900 – 600 BCE) Phase 4 : Basal Early Historic (600 – 500 BCE) Phase 5 : Lower Early Historic (500 – 250 BCE) Phase 6 : Mid-early Historic (250 BCE – 100 CE) Phase 7 : Upper Early Historic (100 – 300 CE) Phase 8 : Middle Historic (300 – 1250 CE) (Deraniyagala, 1992) Structural Period K: 840 – 460 BCE Structural Period J: 510 – 340 BCE Structural Period I : 360 – 190 BCE Structural Period H: 200 – 130 BCE Structural Period G: 100 – 300 CE Structural Period F: 300 – 600 CE Structural Period E, D, C, B 750 – 1000 CE (Coningham, 1999) STUDYSTUDY STUDYSTUDY 14

15 Direct evidences YearEvidenceReconstruction 161- 137 BCEDrought effected in central mountain area, named as “Buluke-seya” during King Dutugemunu’s period. (Source: Mahdvamsa) Central mountain area nourished by SWM and it can be reflected weakening of SWM during this period. 103 and/or 89 – 77 or both BCE Great Drought and Famine. Entire country effected, named as “Beminitiya-seya”. (Source: Sammohavinodini Attakatta) Most probably just after/ near 103 BCE and 89/77 BCE. Entire country was effected due to weakening of both SWM and NEM for 12 years. 15

16 Beminitiya Seya; Drought/Famine Effected the Anuradhapura and Ruhunu kingdoms and entire country during this period of King Walagambha/ King Wattagamini Abhaya in 103 BCE and 89/77 BCE. Large number of Buddhist monks migrated to India…24,000 monks dead. Cascade disease/ hazard occurred named Rakthakshi. Also known as the Great Famine of the country ever had and historians making this as a dark period of Sri Lanka’s history. Advanced irrigation systems failed due to long drought period and cascade impacts of foreign invasion, breakdown of administrative system, corruptions, negligence of repairs and maintenance of irrigation systems occurred. The famine is mentioned in number of times in the stories contained in "Sihalavatthu Pakarana", one of the oldest literatures, and many chronicles. 16

17 Direct evidences YearEvidenceReconstruction 187 – 189 CEDroughtIn Dry Zone; weak NEM King Kanitathissa 247 – 249 CEDroughtIn Dry Zone; weak NEM King Vijaidu/ King Sngathissa 365 – 406 CEDroughtIn Dry Zone; weak NEM King II Upathissa 551 – 569 CEDroughtIn Dry Zone; weak NEM King II Mugalan / King Keerthi Sri Megawarna 915 – 923 CEDroughtIn Dry Zone; weak NEM 956 – 972 CEDroughtIn Dry Zone; weak NEM 1234 – 1269 CEDroughtIn Dry Zone; weak NEM King III Vijeyabahu and King II Parakramabahu 1270 /72 – 1283 / 84 CEDroughtIn Dry Zone; weak NEM King I Bhuwanekabahu 17

18 Indirect evidences Key parameters were identified to identify and verify palaeo-climate changes occurred in the country; since pre-historical period. Studied so far, Settlements and distributions Irrigation tanks, canals, ponds and establishments Religious ceremonies / treatments for intending rainfall Being studied  Types, nature, materials of buildings and complexes; architecture  Reflections of paintings, stone artifacts and engravings  Establishments of Key ports and internal trade pathways and roads  Building of drainage and surface runoff facilities  Origin and distribution of iron production technology 18

19 Shifting of Kingdoms and Main Settlements Hypothesis is monsoon system changes effected establishment and shifting of Kingdoms.  Pre-historical (before 5000 years) settlements concentrated in Wet Zone supported by favorable SWM and Climate. Dry Zone was not much supported by NEM and Climate for Human Settlements.  Proto-historical (since 5000 – 3000 BP) settlements concentrated in Wet Zone supported by favorable SWM and Climate. But Dry Zone was supporting by NEM and Climate for initiate or expand Human Settlements.  Early Historical (since 3000 /2500 BP or 1200 BCE) settlements/Kingdoms concentrated and extensively expanded in Dry Zone supported by comparatively favorable NEM and Climate. But Wet Zone was receiving strong SWM and unfavorable Climate that limited Human Settlements.  Middle Historical (since 1200 CE) settlements/ Kingdoms shifting to Intermediate and Wet Zones leaving Dry Zone which was not further supported by favorable NEW and Climate. Wet Zone was making favorable due to moderate SWM and Climate for new Kingdoms. 19

20 Shifting of Settlements/ Kingdoms Prehistoric Settlements Proto-historic Settlements Early Historic Kingdoms Before 5000 years 5000 – 3000 years after 2500 20

21 Between 500 BCE to 1,200 CE Golden era of Kingdom Anuradhapura Shifting of Kingdoms in the history 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 21

22 Shifting of Kingdoms - glance Dry Zone Intermediate Zone Hills Wet Zone 22

23 Past changes of SWM and NEM based on Kingdoms/ Main Settlements 23

24 Tanks system for irrigation & resilience. Hypothesis is monsoon system had been directly influenced building of man-made tank systems. Building of man-made tanks for irrigation purpose identified from proto-historical period. (since 1000 BCE) in Dry Zone. First remarkable tank built by King Pandukabhaya in 437-367 BCE during his city development programme. After that the system of tanks and canal building had been processed also gradually created with very advanced engineering techniques; from Small village tanks to City tanks and to large reservoirs tanks Up to 13 th Century CE the tanks systems were operated in Dry Zone Anuradhapura, Sigiyira, Polonnaruwa and Ruhunu Kingdoms. Then broken down effected entire civilization and declined agriculture. Tanks identified in Survey Plan in 1850 – 1900 CE 24

25 Tanks systems Anuradhapura and Ruhuna Year/period Name of Tank/ system SizeRemarks 437-367 BCE Basawakkulama Tank (Abaya Tank) City Tank originally. Enlarged later periods. Today size 225 acres. By King Pankukabhaya 250 – 210 BCETissa Tank City Tank originally. Enlarged later periods. Today size 550 acres. By King Devanumpiya Tissa 33 – 43 CE Ruhuna Ruhunu Tissa Tank/ Durawapi/ Yoda Tank By King Ilanaga 25

26 89 – 77 CENuwara TankLargest in Anuradhapura. Embankment (Bund) is 3 miles long and 37 feet high. The water height is about 23 feet the tank covers 3,180 hectares and contains about 1,500 million cubic feet of water. By King Vattagamini Abaya (King Valagamba) Three main tanks in Anuradhapura City Tissa Tank Nuwara Tank Abhaya Tank 26

27 Basic analysis of establishments of tanks and canals systems 27 Excellent seasonal NE Monsoon System and Sufficient SW Monsoon System occurrence

28 Reflections from religious ceremonies Hypothesis is there is a believe and practice giving ceremonial treats to religious properties during drought period seeking rainfall King Devanum Piyathissa 250 – 210 BCE Establishment of Sri Maha Bhodiya King Dutugemunu 161 – 137 BCE Ceremony treatments/ pooja delivering for Sri Maha Bhodiya King Bathikabaya 22 – 7 BCE Deliver treatments of bathing pooja for Sri Maha Bhodiya in annually. King Wasamba67 – 111 CE Lighting thousands of pahan/candles in Chathiya Pabbatha, Thuparamaya, Mahathupa, Sri Maha Bhodhi King Sri Meghawanna 301 – 328 CE Religious ceremonies in Sri Maha Bhodi area in Anuradhapura for 3 months King Upathissa 365 – 406 CE Pathra-Dathuwa treated pooja for begging and praying for rainfall in drought period. King Dhathusena 455 – 473 CEGiving bathing for Sri Maha Bhodiya. King Silakala518 – 531 CEParticipated daily for ceremonies at Sri Maha Bhodi. King 2 nd Dappula 815 – 831 CELast king participated ceremonies for Sri Maha Bhodi. 4 th King Kayshapa 898 – 914 CE Ordered Female Monks to deliver daily water treatments for Sri Maha Bhodi 28

29 29

30 Thank you…! 30


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