Kithulgala Belilena


Kithulgala Belilena, one of the most engaging and vital ancient caves in the country, holds the secret of a lost age some 12,000 years ago. One can reach the cave by driving approximately 80 km through the Colombo-Hatton highway. There are significant pieces of proof to determine the view of Dr P.E.P Deraniyagala that the human settlements in Sri Lanka might have started as old as the Pleistocene Age. The knowledge about Homo Sapiens who live 624 m above sea level relating to Pleistocene Age found from Kithulgala Belilena, a principal human settlement adjacent to Kelani River, was a great help to enhance the knowledge about aborigines.

Two fossilized bones of anthropoid lived 3,000 years back and 22,000 years ago that directly have relationships with the 12,000 B.C. period have been identified through excavations done in Belilena.

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A. Fa Hien-Lena: Unearthing the Origins Fa Hien-Lena, one of the earliest known sites associated with the Balangoda Man, has provided invaluable insights into the early stages of human habitation in Sri Lanka. Carbon dating of the artifacts recovered from Fa Hien-Lena suggests an age of approximately 37,000 years BP (Before the Present), marking a significant milestone in understanding the timeline of human settlement on the island.

B. Batadomba-lena: Tracing the Footprints Batadomba-lena, another prominent cave site, has yielded prehistoric tools that date back to 31,000 BP. These artifacts provide crucial evidence of the Balangoda Man's technological advancements during that era. The discoveries made at Batadomba-lena bridge the gap between the Fa Hien-Lena period and the subsequent developments in the region.

C. Other Artifacts: Uncovering the Past Alongside skeletal remains and tools, the Belilena caves have offered archaeologists a treasure trove of prehistoric artifacts. These include tools dating back to approximately 30,000 BP, shedding light on the advanced skills and resourcefulness of the Balangoda Man. The significance of these findings extends beyond Sri Lanka and contributes to our understanding of human development across Asia.

The discovery of tools similar to those found in Europe around 12,000 BP has challenged prevailing assumptions about the timeline of human development. The Balangoda Man of Sri Lanka, with devices dating back 19,000 years earlier, showcases a parallel path of progress. These findings emphasize the significance of the Belilena caves and their role in rewriting the narrative of human history.

The tool kit of the Balangoda Man is distinguished by the presence of geometric microliths, which comprise small flakes of quartz and occasionally chert. These flakes have been skillfully fashioned into stylized lunate, triangular, and trapezoidal forms. Geometric microliths have conventionally been associated with the Mesolithic period, as first defined in Europe. However, the Belilena caves have challenged this notion.

The earliest dates for the geometric microlithic tradition in Europe are around 12,000 BP. Yet, surprisingly, similar tools have been discovered as early as 31,000 BP at Batadomba-lena, over 30,000 BP at Belilena, and 28,000 BP at two coastal sites in Bundala. This finding reveals that Europe was relatively late in manifesting this technological tradition, raising intriguing questions about the reasons behind this discrepancy. Further discoveries of geometric microliths in various parts of Africa suggest a more complex narrative of human development.

To reach the Belilena caves, follow the road leading to Kitulgala Temple on Iyanwatta Road. From there, a trek of approximately one kilometre awaits you, leading you to the cave entrance. As you make your way through the verdant surroundings, immerse yourself in the area's natural beauty while anticipating the wonders that lie within.

The Kithulgala Belilena caves serve as a gateway to the ancient past of Sri Lanka, offering glimpses of the prehistoric Balangoda Man and their remarkable achievements. The discoveries made within these caves have challenged conventional theories, pushing back the timeline of human development in the region by thousands of years. Furthermore, by exploring the intricate details of the tools and artifacts found, we gain valuable insights into the resourcefulness and ingenuity of our ancestors.

Unveiling the mysteries of Kithulgala Belilena enriches our understanding of Sri Lanka's ancient history and contributes to the broader discourse on human evolution and cultural development.



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