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Reconsidering the Palaeo-Environmental Reconstruction of the Wet Zone of Sri Lanka: A Zooarchaeological Perspective

Authors: Kalangi Rodrigo, Kelum Manamendra-Arachchi


Bones, teeth, and shells have been acknowledged over the last two centuries as evidence of chronology, Palaeo-environment, and human activity. Faunal traces are valid evidence of past situations because they have properties that have not changed over long periods. Sri Lanka has been known as an Island, which has a diverse variety of prehistoric occupation among ecological zones. Defining the Paleoecology of the past societies has been an archaeological thought developed in the 1960s. It is mainly concerned with the reconstruction from available geological and biological evidence of past biota, populations, communities, landscapes, environments, and ecosystems. This early and persistent human fossil, technical, and cultural florescence, as well as a collection of well-preserved tropical-forest rock shelters with associated 'on-site ' Palaeoenvironmental records, makes Sri Lanka a central and unusual case study to determine the extent and strength of early human tropical forest encounters. Excavations carried out in prehistoric caves in the low country wet zone has shown that in the last 50,000 years, the temperature in the lowland rainforests has not exceeded 5 degrees. Based on Semnopithecus Priam (Gray Langur) remains unearthed from wet zone prehistoric caves, it has been argued periods of momentous climate changes during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and Terminal Pleistocene/Early Holocene boundary, with a recognizable preference for semi-open ‘Intermediate’ rainforest or edges. Continuous genus Acavus and Oligospira occupation along with uninterrupted horizontal pervasive of Canarium sp. (‘kekuna’ nut) have proven that temperatures in the lowland rain forests have not changed by at least 5 °C over the last 50,000 years. Site catchment or territorial analysis cannot be any longer defensible, due to time-distance based factors as well as optimal foraging theory failed as a consequence of prehistoric people were aware of the decrease in cost-benefit ratio and located sites, and generally played out a settlement strategy that minimized the ratio of energy expended to energy produced.

Keywords: Palaeo-environment, palaeo-ecology, palaeo-climate, prehistory, zooarchaeology.

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