chapter  10
17 Pages

Monastery plan and social formation: the spatial organization of the Buddhist monastery complexes of the Early and Middle Historical period in Sri Lanka and changing patterns of political power

BySenake Bandaranayake

The most substantial body of artefacts that have survived from the Early and Middle Historical period (EMHP) in Sri Lanka (c. 250 BC to AD 1300; see Table 10.1) are the skeletal remains of Buddhist monastery complexes widely distributed throughout the country. We may estimate that there are between 2000 and 3000 such monastery sites, containing a total of between 50 000 and 75 000 individual structural units, dating mostly from the MHP. The excavation and documentation of these complexes has gone on for nearly 100 years and, understandably, is still far from complete. The best-known and most important concentrations are found around the principal politico-urban centres of the EMHP, particularly the ancient cities of Anur dhapura (3rd century BC to 10th century AD) and Polonnaruva (11th to 13th centuries).