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| 01/01/1970 | |

Anuradhapura – Birth of a civilization (Sri Lanka)

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


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
Where to dig?
Episode 2
The scribes' dispute
Episode 3
The journey through time begins
Episode 4
Buddhism arrives in Sri Lanka
Episode 5
Tissamaharama – a city with comparable finds
Episode 6
Finds from the Iron Age
Episode 7
Geomagnetic search for traces of the past
Episode 8
Sri Lanka's photographic memory
Episode 9
New paths
Episode 10

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