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ABSTRACT PREHISTORY The Himalayan foothills of the Indian sub-continent have yielded evidence humans having lived there around two million years ago.Although the earliest known dates for hominids in peninsular India are ca.

It is estimated that the sea level would have dropped sufficiently for creating such a connection on at least 17 occasions within the last 700,000 years.

This phenomenon would have been caused by the rise and fall of the sea level due to cold/warm fluctuations in the global climate.

The last separation from India would have occurred at about 7,000 BP.

It is therefore possible that humans were present in Sri Lanka from at least as early as one million years ago.

There are ancient coastal sands in the north and southeast of the island which could be as old as 250,000 BP or even 700,000-500,000 BP.

These deposits may contain evidence of human habitation, a prime research objective for the future.

Another group of sediments that could yield remains of early hominids in Sri Lanka are the gem-bearing alluvial gravels of the Ratnapura District.

These Ratnapura Beds are of different ages and have yet to be plotted and dated accurately.

But they do contain remains of an Upper Pleistocene fauna, notably a hippopotamus with six incisor teeth, a rhinoceros which has been dated from elsewhere (Lunugala gem gravel) to ca. Associated with this fauna are stone artefacts comprising, typically, large choppers and flakes of quartz and chert, which have been assigned to the Ratnapura Industry.

However, apart from a human calotte of indeterminate age from a gem pit near Ellawala, no hominid remains have been forthcoming from the Ratnapura Beds.

The faunal remains, which come to light in the search for precious stones could well include hominids and closer scrutiny could well be a rewarding exercise.


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