Ibbankatuwa Megalithic Tomb – Dambulla


The Archaeological Department initially recognised the Ibbankatuwa Megalithic tomb, Dambulla site, in 1970, which brought out the Radiocarbon dating of the remains discovered in the site. These tombs were recorded back to 700 – 400 B.C. recently; the tomb site has been designated as a protected archaeological site in Sri Lanka.
The tomb complex covers about 1 km2 (0.39 sq mi) with 42 clusters of tombs, and each collection contains about ten graves. Each tomb is included with four stone slabs and covered by another slab on the top. According to the way of entombment, two distinct burial customs, urn (bodies were placed in pots and buried) and cist (ashes of deceased were interred), have been recognised.
Cremated remains with grave assets and tools used by the deceased have been found in large terra-cotta urns and cists and the area between the cists. The finds include various clay pots, iron, copper and gold artefacts, beads, necklaces, etc. The gemstones found in some chains are not naturally found in Sri Lanka, which indicates that they may have been imported.

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Unearthing a Prehistoric Past

The Ibbankatuwa Megalithic Tomb was first identified by the Archaeological Department in 1970. It stands as a remarkable testament to the prehistoric period of Sri Lanka, which spans from 250,000 to 1,000 BC. This period marks the transition between the prehistoric and historical eras, known as the protohistoric period.

Excavations and Radiocarbon Dating

Extensive archaeological excavations were conducted at the Ibbankatuwa Tomb site between 1983 and 1990. These excavations revealed fascinating insights into the ancient civilization that thrived in this region. Radiocarbon dating of the remains found at the spot confirmed that the tombs date back to 700 - 400 B.C., further emphasizing their historical significance.

The Enigmatic Ibbankatuwa Settlement

Adjacent to the tomb site lies the ancient Ibbankatuwa settlement. This remarkable archaeological complex covers approximately 6 hectares (15 acres) and is about 150 meters southwest of the Dambulu Oya River. Excavations carried out between 1988 and 1991 unearthed intriguing artifacts and structures, providing valuable information about the daily life and practices of the ancient inhabitants.

Unveiling the Tombs

The Ibbankatuwa tomb complex spans an area of about 1 square kilometre (0.39 square miles) and consists of 42 clusters of tombs. Each set contains approximately ten graves, each enclosed by four stone slabs and covered by another slab on top. The tombs reveal distinct burial customs, identifying two types: urn burials, where bodies were placed in urns, and cist burials, where the deceased's ashes were interred.

Treasures of the Tomb

Excavations at the Ibbankatuwa Megalithic Tomb have yielded a treasure trove of artifacts and remains. Cremated human remains, along with grave goods and tools used by the deceased, have been discovered in large terra-cotta urns, cists, and the surrounding area. Among the finds are a diverse array of clay pots and iron, copper, and gold artifacts. Intricate beads, necklaces, and gemstones, some of which are not naturally found in Sri Lanka, hint at possible trade and cultural connections.

Preserving the Past

Recognizing the historical and cultural value of the Ibbankatuwa Megalithic Tomb, it has been designated as an archaeological protected site in Sri Lanka. Preservation efforts ensure the site's integrity, allowing visitors to witness the awe-inspiring remnants of the past while safeguarding them for future generations.

Unanswered Questions and Enduring Fascination

Despite years of research and excavation, numerous mysteries surround the Ibbankatuwa Megalithic Tomb. The purpose of specific structures within the tomb, the significance of certain artifacts, and the rituals associated with the burials remain tantalizing enigmas. These unanswered questions fuel the curiosity of scholars, archaeologists, and visitors, captivating their imagination and inspiring further exploration.

The Cultural Legacy

The Ibbankatuwa Megalithic Tomb holds immense cultural significance, linking to Sri Lanka's ancient past. It provides a window into the beliefs, customs, and social structure of the prehistoric communities once inhabited the region. The tomb stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of our ancestors and fosters a deep appreciation for the rich cultural heritage of Sri Lanka.

The Ibbankatuwa Megalithic Tomb in Dambulla stands as a remarkable testament to the ancient history and cultural heritage of Sri Lanka. The site's archaeological treasures, enigmatic structures, and captivating surroundings beckon explorers and history enthusiasts worldwide. As we unravel the mysteries hidden within its stone chambers, the Ibbankatuwa Megalithic Tomb invites us to connect with our ancestors and cherish the cultural legacy they have left behind.


Q: Can visitors access the Ibbankatuwa Megalithic Tomb? A: The tomb site is accessible to visitors who wish to explore this ancient wonder.

Q: What is the significance of the Ibbankatuwa Megalithic Tomb? A: The tomb provides valuable insights into the prehistoric and protohistoric periods of Sri Lanka, shedding light on burial customs, social structure, and cultural practices of the ancient civilization.

Q: Are there any restrictions on photography at the site? A: Generally, photography is allowed at the tomb site, but there may be specific areas or artifacts where photography is prohibited to preserve their integrity.

Q: Are there guided tours available at the Ibbankatuwa Megalithic Tomb? A: Yes, guided tours led by experts are available for visitors who wish to delve deeper into the history and mysteries of the tomb.

Q: Are there other attractions to explore near the tomb? A: Yes, the nearby town of Dambulla offers other fascinating sites to explore, such as the Dambulla Cave Temple, Sigiriya Rock Fortress, and Minneriya National Park.

Q: How can visitors access more information and plan their visit? A: For further information and to plan your visit, please refer to the official tourism websites or consult with local travel agencies.



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