Sri Lanka regards as a central stopover point on the road to human evolution (ප්රාග් බළන්ගොඩ මානවයා). The Batadombaleva Caves in Ratnapura contained significant evidence of human (alangoda Manawaya) metamorphosis, including a prehistoric-era human skull. Extensive research and expeditions have uncovered new details about the way of life of our ancestors. It wrote down in history as a beginning of a new era in the study of human evolution.
Balangoda man Homo sapiens balangodensis is the earliest human lived in the Mesolithic era. According to the sources, they found a skeleton in the archeological site near Balangoda. The Balangoda man got his name after the place where his remains reveal.
According to evidence found in caves and other locations, it believes that Balangoda Man first appeared around 38,000BP and from recently discovered skeletal remains that date back to 30,000BP. It’s the first proof that anatomically modern humans were living in South Asia at the time. Alongside the skeleton, there were cultural remains, including Geometric microliths from 28,500 B.P. The oldest evidence for stone tool use comes from this site and a few others in Africa.
Who Is Balangoda Man – Balangoda Manawaya
The Balangoda Man was a tall man who lived tens of thousands of years ago. This archaic hominid was approximately 174 cm tall (females were around 166 cm tall). Extensive study and expeditions have brought more knowledge about our ancient ancestors’ lifestyles to light.
According to the study, early humans had a sunken nose, pronounced supraorbital ridges, thick skull, large teeth, short necks, and hefty jaws. Remains of human skeletons found in caves lived over 16,000 years. It analysis for metric and morphometric traits that reveal remarkable biological compatibility.
As well as it shows the possibility of a natural link to today’s Vedda native population. A significant discovery is that the Balangoda Man, who resided in the highlands, moved to the plains below. And they transitioned from hunter to farmer.
Balangoda Manawaya Research
During the research, the evidence shows that estimating the average height of the people around that time. According to the estimations, an average female was 166 cm tall and a male 174 cm tall. It is substantially taller than contemporary Sri Lankan people. They also possessed giant skulls, pronounced supraorbital ridges, sunken noses, hefty jaws, short necks, and huge teeth.
Bellanbandi Palassa also uncovered Meso-Neolithic hand axes constructed from elephant leg bone slabs. They found daggers or celts fashioned from sambar antler, in addition to the microliths. Similar sites have revealed the widespread use of ochre, domesticated dogs, differential spatial utilization, inferred graves, and extensive fire use from the same period.
Other interesting Meso-neolithic cultural findings include personal ornaments and food animals. E.g., molluscan fragments, Fishbones, shark vertebra beads, seashell-based beads and pendants, lagoon shells, polished bone tools, carbonized wild banana, and breadfruit epicarpsare there with the findings.
The frequency of appearing with which marine shells, shark teeth, and shark beads suggest; that the cave dwellers likely had direct touch with the coast some 40 kilometers distant in the several cave sites. The traces from Beli Lena shows the transportation of salt from shore to the Lena.
High mobility, the use of rainforest resources, and flexibility to changing climate and environment appear to have co-occurred with the microlithic tradition. According to researchers, geometric microliths found at Horton Plains in Sri Lanka’s central highlands imply that the area was inhabited throughout the Mesolithic time.
For one thing, prehistoric hunter-gatherers living in lowland rock-shelters probably regularly visited the Horton Plains to go hunting and harvest food like wild cereals as part of their annual cycle of food foraging. Horton Plains appears to have been used just as a transient campsite and not as a long-term colony.
Several lowland rainforest plant resources, such as wild breadfruit, banana, and canarium nuts, have been used in the late Pleistocene and early Holocene times. In some tropical locations, the shift from hunter-gathering to domesticated cereals and other plants appears to have begun in the early Holocene. Humans may have used slash-and-burn practices to exploit the Horton Plains marsh, grassland, and rainforest resources before that, which helped rice fields expand.
History of Balangoda Man
Modern human behavior and the expansion of early humans over the Old World can trace back to Late Pleistocene archaeological material from South Asia. Before the Palk Strait and Adam’s Bridge were submerged around 7000 years ago, human and animal populations traveled from the Indian subcontinent to Sri Lanka and back. Because the continental shelf is only 70 meters deep, climate change has periodically exposed it, resulting in a land bridge 100 kilometers wide and 50 kilometers long.
Paleontologists discovered prehistoric fauna in the Hambantota district 125,000 years ago (B.P.) by studying coastal deposits near Bundala. Moreover, Quartz and chert tools, most likely dating from the Middle Palaeolithic period, have also been discovered during excavations in the area. As a result, some scientists believe that prehistoric humans lived in Sri Lanka as early as 500,000 B.P. And they were present on the island as before as 300,000 B.P. Ancient coastal sands in the island’s north and south may hold more clues to the island’s early hominid past.
There is solid evidence of such early settlement throughout South Asia. India is the first country that had the first solid pieces of evidence on hominids. In Madhya Pradesh, Central Narmada Valley, a skull dated to the late Middle Pleistocene (200,000 BP). Even though it is not considering anatomically contemporary Homo sapiens, he was named Narmada Man. it is the first authenticating evidence of discovering South Asia.
Since its discovery, significant controversy has erupted over its taxonomic placement among Pleicestone hominids. As a result that it is difficult to compare its morphometric features to other hominid fossils like Homo erectus. However, it matches those of archaic Homo sapiens, including pre-Neanderthals from Europe and West Asia. P. E. P. Deraniyagala first proposed the name “H. s. balangodensis” in 1955. Homo heidelbergensis and developed Homo erectus are two other skull categories. The latter is controversial because it lacks any taxonomic significance.
Evidence of Balangoda Man
The island’s fossil records from roughly 40,000 B.P. onwards are far more complete than those from earlier periods in Sri Lanka. The first evidence of anatomically modern Homo sapiens in South Asia comes from fossilized skeletal and cultural relics found during this time interval. And some of the oldest evidence for the usage of a particular type of stone tool.
The Fa Hien Cave, which is locating in Kaluthara, has some of the earliest such fossils. The cave is considering one of the largest caves in Sri Lanka. It has used by ancient Chinese monks who traveled to Sri Lanka to acquire Buddhist scriptures. Excavated charcoal samples yielded radiometric dates indicating that the cave occupying between 34,000 and 5,400 B.P.
corresponding with the occupation stages in other island caves. According to cultural sequences found in the cave, the area has settled as early as 38,000 B.P. The earliest known skeletal remains discovered in Fa Hien Cave were those of a child, with a radiocarbon date of 30,000 B.P. At 460 meters above sea level in the Sri Pada (Adam’s Peak) region, the Batadomba Lena cave system has produced numerous valuable ancient artifacts.
During the initial cave floor excavation, which took place in the late 1930s, bone remains of a kid and found out many adults. More intact human bones were found from the sixth stratum (a layer of internally consistent sedimentary soil or rock), dating back to 16,000 B.P., due to excavations in 1981.
The following year, minings in the seventh strata turned up more human remains, charcoal, and 17 geometric microliths. Artifacts included 1–4 cm long triangular, trapezoid, or lunate stone tools composed of flint or chert that formed the tips of hunting weapons like spears and arrows. Tests on the charcoal’s radioactivity placed the devices at a time of about 28,500 B.P.
Geometric microliths found in caves in Kitulgala and Batadomba Lena and two coastline sites in Bundala have the world’s earliest dates for geometric microliths, along with those found in Africa. Microlithic technology was used in India as early as 24,500 B.P. at the Patne site in Maharashtra, which dates just a few years after the initial appearance in Sri Lanka.
The discovery of microlithic firms at various South Asian sites supported the theory that some industries arose locally. Perhaps to deal with harsh climatic, socioeconomic, or demographic conditions instead of being imported from elsewhere. The first microliths found in Europe date from around 12,000 B.P. However, there is evidence of a shift towards the creation of microlithic blades around 20,000 B.P.
Mesolithic finds in Sri Lanka’s Sabaragamuva and Uva provinces revealed that microlithic technology persisted on the island, although at a decreased frequency, until the beginning of the historical period, conventionally the 6th century B.C. As the Pleistocene ended around 13,000-14,000 B.P., additional tools, including grinding stones, pestles and mortars, and pitted, hammers-stones began to replace microliths.
The Ratnapura district’s Beli Lena cave and Bellanbandi Palassa have also uncovered ancient human bone fragments. Carbon samples from the elements date to 12,000 BP and 6,500 BP, respectively. It indicates that the island may have been occupied for a long time during this period.
Link With Vedda Population?
Historical records describe the indigenous Sri Lankan people; the Veddas—as hunter-gatherers. Like the island’s prehistoric inhabitants, they lived in natural caves and exchanged their wildlife and honey for metal-based arrows and spear points with neighboring village populations. Most of the residents of these settlements are descendants of Indian mainlanders who came to India at different historical junctures.
Balangoda Man was a direct ancestor of the Vedda people and some Sinhalese groups, according to Sri Lankan anthropologist Deraniyagala. Their size and robust bone structure, among other characteristics, have survived to various degrees among Veddas and some members of the Sinhala community. While some Veddas stayed in caves over time, others integrated with neighboring villages or joined military operations commanded by Kandyan kings during the Kingdom of Kandy.
While certain modern-day agricultural groups have taken the Vedda title in Sri Lanka, it is uncertain if they have any origins in the Vedda populations known for hunting and foraging. According to Deraniyagala, Balangoda Man may have resulted through gene-flow between India and Sri Lanka (in both directions) from the Palaeolithic onwards. He is an expert in ancient Indian archaeology. However, he believes that future research will reveal a range of genetic clusters in prehistoric populations of this region.
It is, he says, would invalidate the concept of Balangoda man as a homogeneous race. Sri Lankans and Indians migrated to and from the Indian mainland via the Palk Strait and Adam’s Bridge for thousands of years. The area between Sri Lanka and India has been submerged underwater since 7,000 B.P., but it has not fully immersed until recently.
Ancient cave-dwelling skeletons from Sri Lanka show a close biological affinity over roughly 16,000 years to those of the Veddas people of the island. It is hardly surprising considering the island’s relative geographical isolation until the fifth century B.C., when people arrived from the Indian mainland. The Veddas are thus crucial to the question of the degree to which ancient and current Homo sapiens in Sri Lanka have separated from people in southern India.
According to Deraniyagala findings, Balangoda man lived in virtually every corner of Sri Lanka, from the high plains to the equatorial rainforests of Sabaragamuwa. Their camps were usually tiny, seldom surpassing 50 square meters in size and implying that they were populated by little more than a handful of nuclear families at most, according to Deraniyagala.
Veddas have lower statures, substantially more robust skulls, dental variations, including somewhat higher molar crown diameters, and greater cranial variety than southern Indian tribes. Sri Lankan Veddas have distinct features distinguishing them from the Sinhalese and Tamil co-habitants of the island and those with Portuguese, Dutch, or British ancestry. Some claim that certain other features, including genetic traits, appear among present-day Sri Lankans, implying that their origin can be traced to some of the island’s earliest human settlers.
According to recent DNA research, indigenous Vedda people were most likely the first residents of Sri Lanka. The Vedda people’s mitochondrial DNA is more closely link to Sinhalese and Sri Lankan Tamils than Indian Tamils. There has been no ancient DNA research of Sri Lankan Paleolithic or Mesolithic remains.
K. M. De Silva, too, sees connections between Balangoda Man and the Vedda people. Balangoda Man was mainly Australoid with Neanderthaloid undertones, he says, and the Vedda aborigines of Sri Lanka are physically closest to Balangoda Man among the ethnic groups that still reside on the island today. (Australoids had the second biggest brow ridges, and Balangoda Man’s strong form was most likely related to Neanderthal characteristics.)
Balangoda Man and his forebears are thought to date back as far as 500 BC, with the possibility of surviving into a much later period in the rainforests of Sabaragamuwa, which man did not penetrate until the end of the first millennium A.D. As more Indian settlers began to find their way to Sri Lanka, prehistoric people had to make way and gradually declined.