Luminescence Dating of Brick Stupas: An Application to the Hinterland of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

By Bailiff, Ian K.; Lacey, Harriet R. et al. | Antiquity, March 2013 | Go to article overview

Luminescence Dating of Brick Stupas: An Application to the Hinterland of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka


Bailiff, Ian K., Lacey, Harriet R., Coningham, Robin A. E., Gunawardhana, Prishanta, Adikari, Gamini, Davis, Chris E., Manuel, Mark J., Strickland, Keir M., Antiquity


Introduction

Buddhism swiftly became established as the state religion in Sri Lanka following its introduction in the third century BC (Paranavitana 1946), and this change was accompanied by the rapid development of Buddhist sites in both urban and rural settings (Coningham 1995). Identification of these sites is reliant on the presence of one or more architectural features, the stupa, the griha (sanctuary) and the vihara (monastery) being prominent types (Coningham 2001, 2011). The stupa is the most distinctive and durable of the monuments and, as the focal point of many monastic sites, it has become a prominent symbol of Buddhism in Sri Lanka (Silva 1986: 8). The origin of the stupa is thought to be pre-Buddhist, with a development traced back to megalithic mounds (Silva 1986: 6). Typically formed as a solid mound, the stupa was built primarily as a monument to enshrine relics or to commemorate important events or places in the life of the Buddha (Silva 1986; Coningham 2001). In Sri Lanka, the main building material used in the construction of ancient stupas was fired clay brick, a technology that, along with tile, was notionally restricted to religious or royal structures (Bandaranayake 1989).

The fortified city of Anuradhapura, a pivotal urban centre in Sri Lanka from the third century BC until its abandonment in AD 1017, witnessed a sustained and vigorous development of both secular and religious monumental architecture during this period (Coningham 1999, 2006). In the hinterland, monastic establishments developed a key economic and political role, acting as agents for the management of land and water, and providing an administrative infrastructure linked to the great urban viharas as an extension of their religious and secular influence (Coningham 2011). These rural monasteries were often located on granite outcrops, providing visually distinctive structures within the landscape of the hinterland, the topographic positioning of which has been linked to the concept of establishing intervisibility in the religious landscape as a means of increasing the visual prominence and authority (Shaw 1999). Recent archaeologicai work inthe Anuradhapura hinterland (Anuradhapura (Sri Lanka) project phase II: the hinterland) has focused on the relationship between urban and rural communities and the role of the development of Buddhist viharas within a broader landscape setting, including formulation and refinement of the monastic architectural chronology (Coningham et al. 2007; Coningham 2011).

However, the dating of stupas based on the use of architectural typologies is frequently not feasible in rural areas because historically original features were not preserved during renovation (Paranavitana 1946). Moreover, many stupas remained abandoned for centuries and were reduced to amorphous mounds, often structurally damaged by looting or robbed for the reuse of building materiais. This is a problem common to the stylistic dating of many brick Buddhist monuments in South and Southeast Asia, as discussed by Ali and Coningham (2002) working in Pakistan, Shaw (2007) in central India and by Stark et al. (2006) working in Cambodia, and there is a general need for a method of dating the construction of brick structures that is based on a direct analysis of the building materials.

This paper reports a study that examined the potentiai of opticaily stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating to test the chronology of a selection of brick-built stupas in the hinterland of Anuradhapura. Earlier work by Abeyrame (1994) on the application of thermoluminescence (TL) dating to archaeological sites in Sri Lanka included the testing of bricks from two urban stupas within Anuradhapura (Jetavanaramaya and Mirisewetiya) and a further stupa at Polonnaruva, and obtained good agreement with historical dates. However, no previous attempts have been made to apply scientific dating methods to stupas within the urban hinterlands. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Luminescence Dating of Brick Stupas: An Application to the Hinterland of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.