The Lifeways of Early Kantharodai, Sri Lanka


  • Barbara Helwing
  • Nimal Perera
  • P Pushparatnam
  • Jude Perera
  • Thilanka Siriwardana
  • Martin R. Wright
  • Patrick Faulkner



Indian Ocean, Jaffna, Early Historic, bioarchaeology, archaeology


In the 1st millennium BCE Sri Lanka was central to the wide-spanning trading networks in the Western Indian Ocean region. Population agglomerations grew on the coast and further inland, where Anuradhapura emerged as the major central place. Parallel agglomerations formed in the south in Tissamaharama and in the north on Jaffna Peninsula in Kantharodai. The site of Kantharodai on the northern tip of Sri Lanka is the largest known early historic mound site on the Jaffna Peninsula, thought to represent the ancient centre of the region. The Early Historic occupation of Kantharodai began ca. 400-100 BCE. In our study we focus on the older historic occupation phase at Kantharodai, represented by a rich midden deposit of domestic refuse that offer insights into the environmental conditions faced by early occupants of the site and their modes of subsistence. We provide a glimpse into the subsistence strategies of the earliest settled population in Kantharodai who augmented a diet based on domesticated livestock through multiple wild species from forests, swamps, mangroves and marine habitats. Based on the faunal evidence from early Kantharodai, this complex socio-economic structure appears to have been in operation, confirming proposed models of mixed economies in operation in the Early Historic period of the region.




How to Cite

Helwing, B., Perera, N., Pushparatnam, P., Perera, J., Siriwardana, T., Wright, M. R., & Faulkner, P. (2022). The Lifeways of Early Kantharodai, Sri Lanka. Ancient Lanka, 1.