Luminescence Dating of Sediments from Ancient Irrigation Features, and Associated with Occupation of the Hinterland around Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

Burbidge, C., Sanderson, D. , Simpson, I.A. and Adderley, P.W. (2008) Luminescence Dating of Sediments from Ancient Irrigation Features, and Associated with Occupation of the Hinterland around Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. Technical Report. Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre, East Kilbride, UK.

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This study supports a new investigation into the development and decline of irrigation and associated human activity in the Anuradhapura Hinterland, Sri Lanka (section 2). Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) age determinations have been made for a variety of sediments from bund and tank systems, irrigation channels, palaeosols and ceramic scatter horizons in the Anuradhapura hinterland (section 3). The geomorphological and archaeological significance of the age determinations has been reviewed in the light of the luminescence results and the samples’ depositional contexts, to constrain the deposition/formation dates of the sampled sediments integrate the OSL results with independent archaeological and historical expectations (section 6). A total of 26 age determinations were made (section 5.3). Dose rate determinations were made using thick source beta counting, high-resolution gamma spectrometry, field gamma spectrometry, measured water contents and calculated cosmic dose rates (sections 4.2.1, 5.1). Equivalent dose determinations were made (sections 4.2.2, 5.2) using the OSL signals from sand sized grains of quartz separated from each sample. Dose rates ranged from 1.1 to 5.0 mGy/a, equivalent dose values ranged from 0.29 to 33 Gy. Age estimates for these samples ranged from 0.14 to 13 ka, the average being 2.9 ka ± 3.1 (section 5.3). Uncertainties on the age estimates were commonly 7% at one standard error. The OSL age estimates from the largest bund and some ceramic scatter sites were greater than 2000 BC. This is older than expected on archaeological grounds and further investigation of these sites may be warranted. The OSL results from the other samples in the present study date bund construction during the initial urbanisation of Anuradhapura c. 400BC, coincident with the major Nachchaduwa bund construction c. 300AD, and in the Late Iron Age / Early Mediaeval period c. 600AD. They date abandonment of one irrigation channel to the 8th Century AD and its infill up to the late 10th Century when Anuradhapura was finally sacked. A further 8 age estimates, from silts and colluvium, relate to the collapse of infrastructure in the Anuradhapura hinterland during the 10th century and continued landscape response during the 11th century, followed by the lead-in to restoration of the irrigation system during the colonial era.

Item Type:Research Reports or Papers (Technical Report)
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Sanderson, Professor David and Burbidge, Dr Chris
Authors: Burbidge, C., Sanderson, D., Simpson, I.A., and Adderley, P.W.
Subjects:G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > Archaeology
College of Science and Engineering > Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre
Publisher:Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2008 The Authors
Publisher Policy:Reproduced with the permission of the Authors

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