Mayakkai is a remote village about 4 km off Point Pedro in Jaffna Peninsula, Sri Lanka. Hidden among the houses and shrub jungles of this village lies a couple of forgotten lime stone caves which could potentially re write the history of prehistoric era in Sri Lanka.
These limestone cave have been subject to scrutiny number of times by the archaeologists. The first time any prehistoric tools at the site was found during a inspection in 1983. Here three hand axes were found on the surface of the caves. But the interest of the caves subsided thereafter due to the Tamil Tiger Terrorists activities in the area thereafter.
With the final defeat of the LTTE terrorists in 2009, government took full control of the Jaffna Peninsula and Dr Nimal Perera, the additional director of the Archaeology Department had the opportunity to inspect these axes in 2010. According to him these hand axes belongs to the type Acheulean tools.
Acheulean tool is an archaeological industry of stone tool manufacture characterized by distinctive oval and pear-shaped “hand-axes” associated with Homo Erectus. The primary innovation associated with Acheulean hand-axes is that the stone was worked symmetrically and on both sides. For the latter reason, handaxes are, along with cleavers, bifacially worked tools that could be manufactured from the large flakes themselves or from prepared cores.
It is thought that Acheulean technologies first developed about 1.76 million years ago. In Europe and Western Asia, early Neanderthals adopted Achaeulean technology, transitioning to more advanced tools by about 160,000 years ago.
Again group of research students from the Rajarata University had inspected this site and found another stone tool in the cave.
So far the earliest evidence of prehistoric settlements in Sri Lanka has been found in Bundala has been dated to around 125,000 BP. Although this was first time Acheulean tools which could potentially push back the early settlements to the era of Homo Erectus were found in Sri Lanka, interest in these caves has died down again.
The tools found at the site have not being scientifically dated so far. Some even doubt if these items had been brought to this location from somewhere else since these items have been found on surface. To obtain a proper understanding, an scientific excavation needs to be carried out at this site which has not happened so far.
Unfortunately the limestone which the caves are made of is a building meterial for the villagers and its said most the caves are now damaged compared to few years ago. The site is also is being used as a garbage dump by the villagers destroying the caves. It is said that it was possible to walk in to the caves which split in to two after some length but the caves are now half buried with earth and debris.
Map of Mayakkai Prehistoric Limestone Caves
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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Traveling directions to Mayakkai Prehistoric Limestone Caves
Travel directions from Jaffna town to Mayakkai Prehistoric Limestone Caves
|Distance : 30 km|
Travel time : 1 hour
Time to spend : 15-30 mins
Driving directions : see on google map