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Article in Journal ()

The dry tank: development and disuse of water management infrastructure in the Anuradhapura hinterland, Sri Lanka

Citation
Gilliland K, Simpson I, Adderley WP, Burbidge CI, Cresswell AJ, Sanderson DCW, Coningham R, Manuel M, Strickland K, Gunawardhana P & Adikari G (2013) The dry tank: development and disuse of water management infrastructure in the Anuradhapura hinterland, Sri Lanka, Journal of Archaeological Science, 40 (2), pp. 1012-1028.

Notes
Research funded by: AHRC, Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, ORSAS - Scottish Funding Council

Abstract
We identify and offer new explanations of change in water management infrastructure in the semi-arid urban hinterland of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka between ca. 400 BC and AD 1800. Field stratigraphies and micromorphological analyses demonstrate that a complex water storage infrastructure was superimposed over time on intermittently occupied and cultivated naturally wetter areas, with some attempts in drier locations. Our chronological framework, based on optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) measurement, indicates that this infrastructure commenced sometime between 400 and 200 BC, continued after Anuradhapura reached its maximum extent, and largely went into disuse between AD 1100 and 1200. While the water management infrastructure was eventually abandoned, it was succeeded by small-scale subsistence cultivation as the primary activity on the landscape. Our findings have broader resonance with current debates on the timing of introduced ‘cultural packages' together with their social and environmental impacts, production and symbolism in construction activities, persistent stresses and high magnitude disturbances in ‘collapse', and the notion of post 'collapse' landscapes associated with the management of uncertain but essential resources in semi-arid environments.

Keywords
Soil micromorphology; Optical dating; Irrigation; Cultural landscapes; Collapse; Buddhism; South Asia

StatusPublished
AuthorsGilliland Krista, Simpson Ian, Adderley W Paul, Burbidge Christopher I, Cresswell Alan J, Sanderson David C W, Coningham Robin, Manuel Mark, Strickland Keir, Gunawardhana Prishanta, Adikari Gamini
Publication date02/2013
Date accepted by journal26/09/2012
PublisherElsevier
ISSN 0305-4403
LanguageEnglish

Journal
Journal of Archaeological Science: Volume 40, Issue 2 (FEB 2013)

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