Last updated
Tissamaharama dagoba.jpg
Sri Lanka adm-2 location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location in Sri Lanka
Coordinates: 6°17′N81°17′E / 6.283°N 81.283°E / 6.283; 81.283 Coordinates: 6°17′N81°17′E / 6.283°N 81.283°E / 6.283; 81.283
CountrySri Lanka
Province Southern Province
District Hambantota District
  Total840 sq mi (2,180 km2)
62 ft (19 m)
  Total79,618 in 2,011
Time zone +5.30

Tissamaharama (Sinhala : තිස්සමහාරාමය [ˈtissəmaˌhaːˈraːməyə] , Tamil : திஸ்ஸமஹாராம) is a town in Hambantota District, Southern Province, Sri Lanka.



It was the capital of the Sinhalese Kingdom of Ruhuna as early as the 3rd century B.C. Few buildings from that period survived. The presence of early Tamils in Tissamaharama was confirmed following archaeological excavations in 2010. The Tissamaharama Tamil Brahmi inscription, a fragment of black and red ware flat dish inscribed in Tamil in the Tamil Brahmi script was excavated at the earliest layer in the town. [1] [2]

The large, artificial Tissa Wewa lake, which was a part of an irrigation system, dates from that time. The five main nearby lakes are Tissa Wewa; Yoda Wewa; Weerawila Wewa; Pannegamuwa Wewa; and Debarawewa Wewa.

The town mainly serves as a starting point for visits to Yala National Park and Kataragama.


The archaeological excavations brought to light earliest urban phase in the 4th century BC. Fired bricks, Buddhist saddle querns, a potsherd with triangular sail (excavated from the layer of 1st century BC but on stylistic grounds were assigned to 3rd century BC), a hospital from 1st century AD-2nd century AD, (the earliest in south Asia), stone paved streets with drains and water channels dated before the Common Era, roof tiles, houses with plastered exterior etc. [3] [4] [5] [6] A Tissamaharama potsherd with alleged Tamil Brahmi inscription was unearthed, however the scripts revealed a unique language. [7]

See also

Related Research Articles

Chera dynasty 300s BCE – 1000s CE dynasty in modern South India

The Chera dynasty, IPA: [t͡ʃeːɾɐ], also known as the Keralaputra, was one of the principal lineages in the Sangam period history of the state of Kerala and the Kongu Nadu region of Western Tamil Nadu in southern India. Together with the Cholas of Uraiyur (Tiruchirappalli) and the Pandyas of Madurai, the early Cheras were known as one of the three major powers (muventar) of ancient Tamilakam in the early centuries of the Common Era.

Tissamaharama Raja Maha Vihara

The Tissamaharama Raja Maha Vihara is an ancient Buddhist temple in Tissamaharama, Southern Province of Sri Lanka. It was one of the four major Buddhist monasteries established in Sri Lanka, after the arrival of Arhant Mahinda Thera to the country. The site of the Tissamaharama Raja Maha Vihara was consecrated by Buddha himself, who spent some time in meditation there with 500 arhats, during his third visit to the island. Tissamaharama monastery had been recognized as a pre-eminent Buddhist educational center of the southern Sri Lanka from the 3rd century B.C. to the 11th century A.D. The Tissamaharama Dagoba which is situated in the premises of the monastery is one of the largest stupas in Sri Lanka. The present chief incumbent of Tissamaharama Raja Maha Vihara is Ven. Devalegama Dhammasena Nayaka Thera.

The ancient Sri Lankan people, which consisted of Sinhalese and Sri Lankan Tamils excelled in the construction of tanks (Wevas) or reservoirs, dagobas, Hindu temples and palaces in Sri Lanka, as evident from the ruins which displays a rich variety of architectural forms.

Tamil-Brahmi Historical abugida script for Tamil

Tamil-Brahmi, also known as Tamizhi or Damili, was originally known as a variant of the Brahmi script, but new evidence proves it coexisted with Brahmi. It was used to write inscriptions in the early form of Old Tamil. The Tamil-Brahmi script has been paleographically and stratigraphically dated between the third century BCE and the first century CE, and it constitutes the earliest known writing system evidenced in many parts of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Sri Lanka. Tamil Brahmi inscriptions have been found on cave entrances, stone beds, potsherds, jar burials, coins, seals, and rings.

Adichanallur is an archaeological site in Thoothukudi district in Tamil Nadu, India that has been the site of a number of very important archaeological finds. Korkai, the capital of the Early Pandyan Kingdom, is located about 15 km from Adichanallur. Carbon dating of samples excavated in 2004 from the Adichanallur site has revealed that they belonged to the period between 1000 BC and 600 BC. In 2005, around 169 clay urns containing human skeletons were unearthed that date back to at-least 3,800 years. In 2018, research on skeletons remains were dated at Manipur University to 1500 BC.

Kalinga script Historic Brahmic script

The Kalinga script or Southern Nagari is a Brahmic script used in the region of what is now modern-day Odisha, India and was primarily used to write Odia language in the inscriptions of the kingdom of Kalinga which was under the reign of early Eastern Ganga dynasty. By the 12th century, with the defeat of the Somavamshi dynasty by the Eastern Ganga monarch Anantavarman Chodaganga and the subsequent reunification of the Trikalinga(the three regions of ancient Odra- Kalinga, Utkala and Dakshina Koshala) region, the Kalinga script got replaced by the Siddhaṃ script-derived Gaudi or Proto-Oriya script which became the ancestor of the modern Odia script.

Sources of ancient Tamil history Literary, archaeological, epigraphic and numismatic sources of ancient Tamil history

There are literary, archaeological, epigraphic and numismatic sources of ancient Tamil history. The foremost among these sources is the Sangam literature, generally dated to 5th century BCE to 3rd century CE. The poems in Sangam literature contain vivid descriptions of the different aspects of life and society in Tamilakam during this age; scholars agree that, for the most part, these are reliable accounts. Greek and Roman literature, around the dawn of the Christian era, give details of the maritime trade between Tamilakam and the Roman empire, including the names and locations of many ports on both coasts of the Tamil country. There are evidences as could be seen comparing standard forms of Sumerian literature and those recovered through present form of Tamil, for example the word for father in Sumerian transliteration is given as, "a-ia" that could easily be compared with Tamil word, "ayya". This also places ancient form of Tamil to early Sumerian period, say as ancient as 3500 BC.

Godavaya or Godawaya is a small fishing hamlet located at the mouth of the Walawe river, between Ambalantota and Hambantota in the Hambantota District in southern Sri Lanka.

Kandarodai is a small hamlet and archaeological site of Chunnakam town, a suburb in Jaffna District, Sri Lanka.

Anuradhapura period Period in the history of Sri Lanka during the Anuradhapura Kingdom (377 BC-1017 AD)

The Anuradhapura period was a period in the history of Sri Lanka of the Anuradhapura Kingdom from 377 BC to 1017 AD. The period begins when Pandukabhaya, King of Upatissa Nuwara moved the administration to Anuradhapura, becoming the kingdom's first monarch. Anuradhapura is heralded as an ancient cosmopolitan citadel with diverse populations.

Keezhadi Village in Tamil Nadu, India

Keezhadi is a village near the village of Silaiman, on the border between Madurai and Sivagangai districts, in Tamil Nadu, India. The Keezhadi excavation site is located in this area: excavations carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department (TNAD) have revealed a Sangam era settlement dated to the 6th century BCE by radiocarbon dating. Claims that the results show that there was writing at that time have been challenged. It is not clear whether the potsherds containing inscriptions were found in the same archaeological layer as the 6th century samples, and University of Calcutta archaeologist Bishnupriya Basak said that "This unfortunately is not clear from the report and is very crucial", adding that the issues of "layer, period and absolute dates" needed clarity. Dravidian University archaeologist E. Harsha Vardhan said that a single report was not enough to "state scientifically that the Tamil-Brahmi script belongs to the sixth century BC".

Tissamaharama inscription No. 53 refers to a fragment of black and red ware flat dish inscribed in Brahmi script excavated at the earliest layer in southern town of Tissamaharama in Sri Lanka. It is dated to approximately 200 BC by German scholars who undertook the excavation.

Rassagala, commonly Rajagala or Rajagalathenna, is a rugged and heavily forested mountain situated 1,038 feet (316 m) above sea level, in a sparsely populated part of Eastern Province, Sri Lanka which has an important archaeological value. The Rajagala archaeological site is only second to the Mihintale monastery in Anuradhapura and it spreads over 1,600 acres. It consists more than 600 prehistoric ruins, monuments and artifacts, and nearly 100 of them are ancient stupas.

Udo Recker is a German archaeologist. He is primarily specializing in medieval and later archaeology but has an interest in south Asian archaeology, too. He is the Director of Archaeology of the German federal state of Hesse.

Megalithic markings, megalithic graffiti marks, megalithic symbols or non-Brahmi symbols are markings found on mostly potsherds found in Central India, South India and Sri Lanka during the Megalithic Iron Age period. A number of scholars have tried to decipher the symbols since 1878, and currently there is no consensus as to whether they constitute undeciphered writing or graffiti or symbols without any syllabic or alphabetic meaning.

Mangulam Village in Tamil Nadu

Mangulam or Mankulam is a village in Madurai district, Tamil Nadu, India. It is located 25 kilometres (16 mi) from Madurai. The inscriptions discovered in the region are the earliest Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions.

Tissa Wewa (Tissamaharama) Body of water

Tissa Wewa is a reservoir in Tissamaharama, thought to have been constructed in the 3rd Century BC, either by Mahanaga of Ruhuna or his successor Yatala Tissa of Ruhuna, in order to irrigate paddy lands and supply water to the flourishing city of Tissamaharama.


Neelagiriseya is an ancient colossal Stupa situated in Lahugala, Ampara District, Sri Lanka. It is the largest Buddhist Stupa in the Eastern Province of the country. It has a circumference of 182 m (597 ft) and 22 m (72 ft) height in the current status. In the recent history the Stupa and its monastery site had been neglected and abandoned over three decades as the rise of activities of military organization LTTE in the area.

Keezhadi excavation site

Keezhadiexcavation site is a Sangam age settlement that is being excavated by the Archaeological Survey of India and the Tamil Nadu State Department of Archaeology. This site is located 12 km southeast of Madurai in Tamil Nadu, near the town of Keezhadi in Sivagangai district. It comes under the Thiruppuvanam Taluk of Sivagangai district. This is a large-scale excavation carried out in Tamil Nadu after the Adichanallur archaeological site. The settlement lies on the bank of the Vaigai River and it reflects the ancient culture of Tamil people. Epigraphist V. Vedachalam, who served as a domain expert for the excavation, dated the excavated remains between 6th century BCE and 3rd century CE.

Tamil inscriptions Wikimedia list article

This is a list of archaeological artefacts and epigraphs which have Tamil inscriptions. Of the approximately 100,000 inscriptions found by the Archaeological Survey of India in India, about 60,000 were in Tamil Nadu


  1. Mahathevan, Iravatham (24 June 2010). "An epigraphic perspective on the antiquity of Tamil". The Hindu . Archived from the original on 1 July 2010. Retrieved 31 October 2010.
  2. Ragupathy, P (28 June 2010). "Tissamaharama potsherd evidences ordinary early Tamils among population". Tamilnet. Tamilnet. Retrieved 31 October 2010.
  3. Weisshaar, Hans-Joachim. Weisshaar, Hans-Joachim; Roth, Helmut; Wijeyapala, W. (eds.). Ancient Ruhuna. Sri Lankan – German Archaeological Project in the Southern Province. Vol. 1. Mainz: Philipp von Zabern.
  4. Weisshaar, Hans-Joachim. "Ancient Tissamaharama: the formation of urban structures and growing commerce.". In Tripati, S. (ed.). Maritime Contacts of the Past: Deciphering Connections Amongst Communities. New Delhi: Delta Book World. pp. 208–228.
  5. Weisshaar, Hans-Joachim. "Legged Saddle Querns of South Asia". Zeitschrift für Archäologie Aussereuropäischer Kulturen. 6: 119–144.
  6. Weisshaar, Hans-Joachim. "How to get water, and how to dispose? Water Management in an Early Urban Society of South Asia". In Nickel, C.; Weisshaar, H.-J.; Shadullah, A. M.; Shafi, S. A. (eds.). Man and Water. Seminar on Archaeology, Supply and Sanitation in Bangladesh and Beyond. Dhaka: Goethe-Institut. pp. 23–32.
  7. https://www.lankapradeepa.com/2020/04/tissamaharama-potsherd-with-alleged.html