Implication of Rawana Legend: based on an Environmental Archaeological Methodological approach
by Jetwing · Published · Updated
The Rama Rawana Legend dates back to prehistoric time, presumably around 6000- 3000 BC? It is noted that several locations, example Rumassala, Dolukanda, Maha EliyaThenna, Nuwara Eliya, Thutupola Kanda , and Seetha Eliya in Sri Lanka are believed to have connections with the legend. As per the legend, it seems that many incidents have taken place in this epic story. It is believed that King Rawana’s soldiers attacked Hanumantha and set fire to his tail, which later on destroyed the entire city of Rawana. King Rawana was regarded as a benevolent and a very effective ruler in ancient Ceylon.
Thotupola Kanda which is located within Horton Plains is believed to have an air port for Rawana’s air craft (Dandumonaraya) to land. Rawana , the king of ancient Sri Lanka abducted princess Seetha, the beautiful wife of Prince Rama and it is believed that she was kept somewhere around the Seetha Eliya near the Horton Plains. Horton Plains is also called as Maha Eliya Thanne by the local community, because it is said that there had been a great fire in this area which was set by Hanumantha. What do these stories/incidents actually mean? Can we merely call this an “epic legend’’ and pass on to the next generation?
According to the studies based on Archaeology ,Environmental Archaeology, and Paleoecology it is interesting to note that the above incidents and stories make some sense to investigate the relationship between ancient human activities and the environment that was prevailing during Rawana’s time.
Certain experiments were conducted by earth sediment cores gathered through Jack hammers from the deep valley of Horton Plains. These sediments denote that the earth samples were dating back to 24000 years. Several methods such as pollen, phytolith, charcoal, sediment analysis, lithology, mineral magnetic and radiocarbon dating were applied to the collected sediment cores and lot of interesting results have been revealed.
According to the experiments conducted on fossil charcoal, pollen and spore records denote that small and large scale repeated fire events in the Maha Eliya Thanne have taken place between 6000-7000 years. Experiments also portray that grasslands were the main dominant vegetation community in the Maha Eliya Thanne between 6000-7000 years. The experiments carried out do not show that there was any form of cultivation which took place during 6000- 7000 years. But traces of certain pollen species have been discovered which shows that there could have been the presence of human activities. Also remnants of pottery were found from Horton Plains, and this suggest that human activities have occurred which can be possible connected with the Rawana Legend.
In conclusion I think it is high time for us to look at the Rama Rawana Legend from a different perspective and not pass it on to the future generation just as a legend.
By Dulmini Ekanayake