Maritime Trade Pattern and Early Urbanism in the Jaffna Peninsula of Northern Sri Lanka


  • Prishanta Gunawardhana



archaeology, Indian Ocean, Early Historic, Kantharodai, Anuradhapura


Sri Lanka has played a key role in maritime trade on a global scale since Early Historic times to the colonial period. Archaeological evidence from harbors and ports of the Jaffna peninsula in northern Sri Lanka indicate very early trade connections with China to the east, Rome and Arabia to the west, and with India to the north. Ceramics and other artifacts associated with diverse cultures discovered from excavations and surveys in the Jaffna peninsula show that Jaffna has played a prominent role in Indian Ocean trade. Early urbanism and the emergence of trade related settlements in the Jaffna peninsula with the city of Kantharodai as a focal point had begun in the 6th century BCE. International trade and commerce of the Indian Ocean region had a direct impact on the development of urbanism in Kantharodai in the Jaffna peninsula, while the ports and trade network in the hinterland provide useful insights into the nature of economic activities and urbanism in the region. Finds from several key ports in the Jaffna peninsula and particularly the port on the island of Kayts indicate international trade. The city of Kantharodai as a focus for change, the city as the focus of power and domination, and the city as an organizing principle or creator of efficient space use are aspects explored in this paper.




How to Cite

Gunawardhana, P. (2022). Maritime Trade Pattern and Early Urbanism in the Jaffna Peninsula of Northern Sri Lanka. Ancient Lanka, 1.