Sri Lankan inscription found

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Photo:  The Brahmi inscription could date back to the first or second century (AD) Photo: archaeology.lk

Marine archaeologists in Sri Lanka have found a Brahmi inscription at Delft, the furthest inhabited island off the Jaffna Peninsula in the Bay of Bengal.

The four letter fragment was found on a coral slab of the base of a Buddhist stupa – a burial mound typically containing the ashes of Buddhist monks.

The Maritimne Archaeology Unit (MAU) of the Central Cultural Fund (CCF) have identified it as a Brahmi inscription written in Sinhalese Prakrit language which could date back to the 1st or 2nd century (AD).

Archaeologists found the slab amidst other scattered writings including two slabs with inscribed Tamil script in Periya-thu’rai, which means the big port. The Tamil inscriptions date back to the 14th or 15th centuries.

The items are strategically placed at the point where the shortest sea passage was from Neduntheevu to Rameswaram used regularly to transport milk and flowers for rituals in temples.

Brahmi is the modern name given to the one of the oldest scripts used on the Indian Subcontinent and Central Asia. Tamil script, like the other Indic scripts, is thought to have evolved from it.

A number of theories have been put forward with literary, epigraphic and archaeological evidence pointing towards the emergence of Tamil script from Brahmi-Tamil script in the third century.