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L.I.S.A. Redaktion | 04/04/2011 | 3302 Views | Movies by the Gerda Henkel Foundation |
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Anuradhapura – Birth of a civilization (Sri Lanka)

Sri Lanka's photographic memory | Episode 9

In einem archäologischen Fotoarchiv in Colombo treffen sich die Forscher mit Kerstin Bartels, einer Expertin für die Konservierung von fotografischem Kulturgut. Sie verwaltet einen Bestand von mehreren tausend Negativen und anderen Abzügen, die archäologische Fundstätten und antike Bauten zu ihrem Entdeckungszeitpunkt im 19. Jahrhundert dokumentieren. Viele der Aufnahmen wurden durch natürliche Alterungsprozesse, die durch das feuchte Klima noch verstärkt werden, zerstört. Auch der Rettung dieser Kulturzeugnisse will sich Prof. Kohlmeyer bei der Fortführung seines Projektes auf Sri Lanka widmen.

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The Research Project
Anuradhapura, the ancient capital of Sri Lanka, which a thousand years ago was left to be overgrown by the jungle is today a UNESCO World Heritage site and is the basis of a long-standing dispute amongst scholars. This dispute is over nothing less than the origin of the scripture used throughout the Indian subcontinent: Was the scripture developed in India shortly before the middle of the 3rd century BC, or is there proof that it came into being well before that on this island?

Current excavations in Anuradhapura, the center of power, the citadel, are destined to put an end to the dispute once and for all. Archeologist Dr. Kay Kohlmeyer plans to break fresh ground there, excavating to a depth of 9-10 meters and thus reaching the oldest settlement layer, which could possibly date back to 900 BC. If he, together with his team, were to detect fragments of inscribed ceramic in the oldest layers, the theory of their having arisen later would be ruled out, and with it, the long-standing dispute practically over.

Indeed, the excavations in Anuradhapura are about much more than that. It is a matter of the genesis of an entire culture, the origin of a nation and its existence, which stretched over more than 1,500 years. How did the people lead their lives back then? How were the government and administration structured? What function did artistic irrigation hold as a prerequisite for a state capable of surviving? What kind of contact did they have with those overseas? Which role was played by religion? And, in all of this, which role was played by the scripture?

Whichever outcome arises, one thing is already clear: The researchers are embarking on a journey through time to the roots of a fascinating culture that held the greatest significance in the development of South Asia. Their film affords the public an opportunity to participate in this too.

Project leadership

Prof Dr Kay Kohlmeyer

Location

Anuradhapura (Sri Lanka)

Academic project manager
Prof. Dr. Kay Kohlmeyer

Film project managers
Prof. Dr. Matthias Knauth
Arne Weiser

Editorial teams

Marina Anselm

Camera technicians
Arne Weiser

Editing technicians
Martin Pogac

Overall planning teams
Gisela Graichen und Peter Prestel

All episodes
Treasure island
Episode 1
04/19/2010
Where to dig?
Episode 2
05/17/2010
The scribes' dispute
Episode 3
06/21/2010
The journey through time begins
Episode 4
08/30/2010
Buddhism arrives in Sri Lanka
Episode 5
10/11/2010
Tissamaharama – a city with comparable finds
Episode 6
12/13/2010
Finds from the Iron Age
Episode 7
01/17/2011
Geomagnetic search for traces of the past
Episode 8
02/28/2011
Sri Lanka's photographic memory
Episode 9
04/04/2011
New paths
Episode 10
05/16/2011

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