Ibbankatuwa Megalithic Burial Site (ඉබ්බන්කටුව ප්‍රාග්-ඓතිහාසික සුසාන භූමිය)

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Ibbankatuwa Ancient burial ground lies five kilometers before Dambulla town on the Kurunegala-Dambulla Road. An archeological Department board will indicate the turn-off from the main road. The site is reached by traveling about 500m onto this road.

Cist burials are found in an area of about 2 acres. About 10 tombs have been unearthed and each tomb is separated by four stone slabs and covered by another slab on the top. This Early Iron Age burial ground has been dated to 600 BCE to 450 BCE (Prematilleke et al., 2007).

Excavations have revealed that each tomb contains personal belongings such as clay pots, beads, necklaces, etc, similar to the practices in ancient Egypt pyramids. The gemstones found in some necklaces are only found in India indicating links to India during this time.

Despite this well laid out burial ground, no proof of any settlement in this area has been found. In contrast, Anuradhapura was a highly populated town that exceeded over 50ha (125 acres) in 700-600 BC but no Early Iron Age cemetery which can even be remotely linked has been found. Thus it is speculated that this could belong to a small special group of people who lived in this area.

The site was developed into a tourist attraction in 2017 and was formally open to the public.


  1. Prematilleke, L., Bandaranayake, S., Deraniyagala, S. U., & Silva, R. (Eds.). (2007). History and Archaeology of Sri Lanka : Volume II : the Art and Archaeology of Sri Lanka 1 (Vol. II). The Central Cultural Fund (Ministry of Cultural Affairs).

Also See

Map of Ibbankatuwa Ancient Burial Site

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The map above also shows other places of interest within a approximately 20 km radius of the current site. Click on any of the markers and the info box to take you to information of these sites

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Travel Directions to Ibbankatuwa Ancient Burial Site

Route from Colombo to Ibbankatuwa Ancient Burial Site
Via : Kurunegala
distance : 160 km
Travel time : 3.5 hours
Driving directions : see on google map

Ibankatuwa [2] : Where Our Ancients Rest

by Kishanie S. Fernando
Daily Mirror

About five kilometers before Dambulla at Ibbankatuwa on a shady road that leads to the Ibankatuwa Wewa is found a cist burial ground or a resting place of some of our very ancients.

This is one of the several ancient burial sites that have been discovered in Sri Lanka believed to be from the pre-historic and proto-historic periods of Sri Lanka.. These ancient burial sites have revealed two distinct burial customs. Urn burials, where the dead were placed in huge urns and interred, and cist burials where the ashes of the deceased were interred in large tombs hidden under the ground.

According to Archeological research, the prehistoric period of Sri Lanka ranges from ca 250,000BP – 1,000 BC. The transition period between the end of the pre-historic period and the commencement of the historic period is known as the proto-historic era

According to historical and archeological research, the proto-historic Iron Age period of Sri Lanka was a result of an extension and fusion of especially a South Indian culture that was acquainted with the use of iron, black and red pottery, paddy cultivation, and domestication of horses. Proto historic artifacts have been found from Anuradhapura (900 – 800 BC) Ibbankatuwa (600 – 400 BC) and Yapahuwa (300 BC)

A systematic burial system was one of the distinctive features of the proto-historic period.

Excavations at the Ibankatuwa site have revealed ritual practices and artifacts belonging to the proto-historic period. These include cist burials and a crematory.

The findings record that the Ibbankatuva complex covers an area of about 1 square km and contains 42 clusters of cist tombs. It has been estimated that each cluster contains about 10 tombs. A number of these tombs were found intact, with the capstones in place.

Large terra-cotta urns containing cremated remains and grave goods have been found in many of the tombs. Cremated remains have also been found within the cists as well as in the area between the cists. It is recorded that the grave goods found included a variety of pottery, iron, copper, and gold artifacts. Bead material made of onyx, agate, carnelian, quartz glass, and terra-cotta have also been found. Some of these it is supposed may have been imported. Thus indicating, that the Ibbankatuva people had established trade relations with the foreign lands.

Scholars believe that the excavations at Ibbankatuva revealed a possible distinction on a Socio-economic basis. Accordingly, the largest cist burial excavated at Ibbankatuva has yielded gold and imported beads, besides a symbol inscribed on the capstone while smaller burials (moderate-sized cists) have revealed fewer pots than those of the larger burial as well as terra-cotta beads probably made locally and iron and copper.

Yet another burial at Ibbankatuwa has revealed a crematory containing merely the human ashes.

It is also believed that the Ibbankatuva dwellers may have engaged in agricultural activities including rice cultivation. The discovery of a small artificial reservoir to the east of the cemetery is quoted as evidence. Further, a few husks of edible rice have been found at the site.

Scholars also believe that there may have been a connection between the cemetery and the cave complex at Dambulla situated a short distance of 3 km from Ibbankatuva. The caves are known to be amongst the early Buddhist monastic settlements. Some caves contain inscriptions of a very early period and have been dated to the 3rd century B.C. – 1st century A.C.

It is interesting to visit the site at Ibbankatuwa, although devoid of huge and impressive edifices. Yet sites like Ibbankatuwa have shed new light on the island’s prehistory and early history.

© www.amazinglanka.com

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