By Bernard VanCuylenburg

     “Archaeological History”, The Maduru Oya Marvel.

After firstly, viewing the magnificent “flowing-flag” of “My Lovely Island Home”, as I call her, then reading through the most magnificent story of the “Mother Of Marvels”, as I would prefer it to be known as, written by, who I would simply describe as one of the very best “writers” to put pen to paper, Bernard VanCuylenberg, proudly, stolidly, soundly, a Sri Lankan Burgher with an unconditional love for the little “Pearl Of The Indian Ocean”, just as Neil Jayasekera (the flag-waver) & “your’s truly” are, as well.

     We are all a part of “history”, folks. Like it, or not, the history of our entire world will someday fade into nothingness, but, until then, it is the solemn duty of every-one of us, to respect the “time” the Almighty has given us, and not forget to remember everything that has made little old Mother Earth “great”.

     Bernard “goes into history” here, from various angles of the globe. All the facts & figures are there. Putting it mildly, this guy would have to be one of the most ardent Archaeologists who, is not one, by trade. He is simply a “teacher” wishing to impart his wide knowledge of Archaeology (and English)to pupils who are, in my opinion, the luckiest in the World, to be taught by an absolute guru.

     And so, without impinging into an excellent series of articles, suffice to say that here, we come into a “common-sense”, down-to-earth, lesson from an “Arch-aeologist” at heart, as to WHY Sri Lanka stands to lose it’s status as one of the most important Archaeological Phenomenons  of the Ancient World. A tiny bit of God’s Earth that has achieved SO MANY GREAT THINGS, is now losing it’s grip on the essential events of a bygone era. The beautiful Land, the fabulous architectural achievements, structures dedicated to the Lord Buddha, statues, even, not properly taken care of,  and now showing signs of deterioration, achievements, proudly, the pride of this Planet, already losing due recognition through sheer ignorence (the don’t care, attitude, I call it). Wake up, Sri Lanka, wake up, my lovely Island home. If you do not, the “Goodnight Waltz” will probably the last beautiful song you will hear.

   Desmond Kelly (Lankan Aussie & proud eLanka supporter)


Peeling back the layers of history, archaeologists spanning the years, have made sensational discoveries  which have been immortalised in the collective human conscience. To set the scene for this article, I am compelled to venture to lands further afield  – far away from resplendent Lanka –  and cite a few examples where archaeological discoveries have set the human spirit aflame and caused a sensation around the world. The stunning discoveries made by the engineers and surveyors when the Maduru Oya scheme was first undertaken in Sri Lanka will resonate with some discoveries made in other lands. One of the most famous was the discovery of the tomb of King Tutankhamen who ruled Egypt from 1360 – 1350 BC. in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. On the point of giving up after a fruitless search and colossal expense, the persistence of two archaeologists, Howard Carter and  Lord Carnarvon finally paid off when in 1922 the tomb was discovered with Carter uttering the  words which expressed his sentiments at that moment …..”My eyes have seen marvellous things…..” So great was this discovery that they spent a decade emptying the tomb of more than 3000 objects many of which needed on-the-spot conservation. But there have been other discoveries lesser known but equally important. I spent a whole day exploring the Valley of the Kings and later visited the exhibits from the tomb of King Tutankhamen which covers practically the entire third floor of the Cairo museum. It is a visit I highly recommend to anyone travelling to that part of the world. 

When the Egyptian civilisation had already declined, and when the Roman empire was lapsing into its long dark night, a civilization unknown to the west 6000 miles away from the heart of Rome was approaching its peak.  By the fourth century AD the Maya had begun to build a chain of magnificient cities and temples throughout the rain forests of Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico connected by paved roads constructed by Mayan engineers. The decline of the Maya commenced in 925 AD after which these cities were lost and forgotten, wrapped in greenery, smothered by the rain forests. Then in the year 1839 an American lawyer and diplomat John Stephens, and an English artist Frederick Catherwood breached the jungle fastness and rediscovered the miracle of Maya civilization. On penetrating the jungle’s thickness and discovering these cities Stephens said “I thought I  was looking at a scene from another world….” I followed the trail of Stephens and Catherwood during two visits to these countries and have stood open-mouthed, gazing in awe at these colossal temples and buildings, noting all the while that the engineers of ancient Lanka were as competent and in some respects superior to their Mayan counterparts.  The discoveries of Stephens and Catherwood sent ripples of excitement throughout the West.


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