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Low density urbanism in medieval Sri Lanka: exploring the hinterland of Polonnaruva

Manuel, M.J. and Gunawardana, P. and Namalgamuwa, H. and Coningham, R.A.E. and Davis, C.E. and Krishnan, K. and Senanayake, J. and Rammungoda, U.R. (2021) 'Low density urbanism in medieval Sri Lanka: exploring the hinterland of Polonnaruva.', Asian perspectives., 60 (2). pp. 248-271.


A hinterland survey at Polonnaruva has revealed that a planned pluralistic landscape developed during the latter part of the Early Medieval period (A.D. 600-1200). This represents a significant shift in settlement pattern from the organically derived model of Buddhist Temporalities found at the antecedent capital, Anuradhapura. In comparison, settlements around Polonnaruva were larger, longer-lived and evenly distributed. This coincided with a major island-wide shift towards centralization thought to be associated with experimentation with a new model of royal control. Yet, both systems can be described as instances of low density urbanism, suggesting that there was greater variation within this settlement genre than previously anticipated.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:This article first appeared in the 60:2, 2021 issue of Asian Perspectives published by the University of Hawai‘i Press
Date accepted:21 September 2020
Date deposited:10 December 2020
Date of first online publication:30 November 2021
Date first made open access:10 January 2021

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