Venison for the Citadel

Early Historic Tissamaharama, in Ruhuna, Sri Lanka


  • Norbert Benecke
  • Johannes Moser
  • Hans-Joachim Weisshaar



zooarchaeology, microlith, arrowhead, faunal analysis, Vedda


Tissamaharāma known from historic times as Mahagama is one of the earliest and largest urbanised centres in Sri Lanka, dating from the Early Historic period. As part of the collaborative research programme between the Department of Archaeology of the Government of Sri Lanka and the Commission for Archaeology of Non-European Cultures (KAAK) of the German Archaeological Institute, excavations were conducted at Tissamaharāma from 1992 to 2010. These extensive excavations at the Tissamaharāma citadel have yielded a very large quantity of excellently preserved faunal remains from the Early Historic Period of ca. 500 BCE to 250 BCE. The analysis of these animal bones indicates the presence of a significant component of large mammals notably, deer (Axis axis). Of considerable importance is the rib of a deer with an embedded broken quartz arrowhead, from the microlithic tradition. The deer represented in this sample was presumably part of the supply of venison to the city dwellers, brought from outside. Our data show that microlithic technology had persisted to at least the Early Historic phase in Sri Lanka. 




How to Cite

Benecke, N., Moser, J., & Weisshaar, H.-J. (2022). Venison for the Citadel: Early Historic Tissamaharama, in Ruhuna, Sri Lanka. Ancient Lanka, 1.