COLOMBO: The History and Archeology Department of Jaffna University has excavated a temple of the Chola era in Nedunthivu or Delft Island, off the Jaffna coast.
The leader of the team, Prof P Pushparatnam told `Express’ over the phone on Tuesday that the 40-ft long 10-ft wide temple belonged to the era of Raja Raja Chola or 10th Century BC.
Raja Raja Chola, one of the most powerful rulers of the Chola dynasty, ruled the Thanjavur-Cholamandalam area from 985 to 1014 CE.
Asked how he was able to date the temple, of which he had only the walls, the foundation and some vimana relief art work, Pushparatnam said that he had gone by two things: Firstly, coins of Raja Raja Chola had been found in the vicinity. Secondly, so far, historical structures found in the Delft Island had been of the Dutch and British periods only. This was the first time a structure predating these two periods had been found there, he pointed out.
Pushparatnam said that more of the temple might be found as the excavations go on. Essentially, only a survey of the area had been conducted so far, he clarified.
The archeologist believes that the people of Delft could not have constructed a temple of this kind. It might have been the work of immigrants from outside, possibly Tamil Nadu, he felt.
Sri Lankan Tamil archeologists have been complaining that they have not been encouraged to excavate or look for historical material in the Tamil-speaking North and East by Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese- dominated archeological establishment.
Pathmanathan, formerly head of the Department of History in Peradeniya University at Kandy, told Express that Sri Lankan universities were not giving money for historical research on the Tamil areas, and that PhD and post- doctoral work on these areas had virtually ceased after the intensification of the ethnic conflict in the island. It is now hoped that with the return of peace and normalcy, archeological work in the Tamil-speaking North and East will be encouraged.