Mayakkai Prehistoric Limestone Caves in Jaffna – යාපනය මායක්කායි ප්‍රාග් ඓතිහාසික හිරිගල් ගුහා

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Mayakkai Prehistoric Limestone Caves in JaffnaMayakkai Prehistoric Limestone Caves in Jaffna

Mayakkai Prehistoric Limestone Caves in Jaffna
Photo By : Arungkaran Mahenthiran

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.

Also See

Map of  Mayakkai Prehistoric Limestone Caves


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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

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Posted in Pre Historical Sites