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contents 565 cubic inches. In either case the size points to a time late in the second century or early in the first century B.C., as the date when the bricks were burnt, that being probably the only period when these excessively large ones were made.
Colossal sitting and reposing statues of Buddha cut out of the solid rock, at which the bricks are of pre-Christian date. or the first century A.D., and other works, prove its importance; while fragments of rough pottery which cover the beds. of small water-courses near it show that many people lived there for a long period. Yet it seems to be too far from a dry-season water-supply sufficient for the inhabitants of a town, to be the site of a city that was the capital of the country for half a century or more. I incline to the opinion that the city called Upatissa was more likely to be close to the place where the northern road crossed the Malwatta-oya, at a point probably some miles to the north-west of Anuradhapura, a neighbourhood that I had no opportunity of exploring, though I heard of a low hill near it on which some carvings (statues or reliefs) are to be seen.
The references to the town in the Mahavansa are very meagre. I have already mentioned that it became the station of one of Wijava's chiefs, probably in about 400 B.C. When that king died, the ministers who carried on the government are said to have made it their headquarters, notwithstanding its great distance from the former capital at Tissa. Paṇḍuwāsa Dēva seems first to have made Wijitapura his capital (Mah., i, p. 37), but in the latter part of his reign he is described as living at Upatissa, where he is represented as having an extensive establishment.
The next king, Abhaya, his eldest son, is stated to have reigned at Upatissa for twenty years (Mah, i, p. 41). He was deposed, and was succeeded by his brother Tissa, who also resided at Upatissa for seventeen years (Mah., i, pp. 42, 44). The following king, Pandukåbhaya, transferred the seat of government to Anuradhapura, and little more is known of the old capital; but during the reign of Dēvānampiya Tissa in the third century BC. it is mentioned that five hundred youths
of Upatissa became monks. Thus it is seen that Upatissa continued to be the capital for fifty or sixty years in the fourth century B.C., during which period it may have been the largest city in the country.
The other early city, Uruwela, never became the capital of Ceylon. After the reference to the settlement of Wijaya's chieftain at it, it is next mentioned in connection with DutthaGāmiņi, in the second century B.C., as follows:- To the westward of the capital [Anuradhapura], at the distance of five yōjanas, at the Uruwēla town, pearls of the size of the Amalaka fruit [Myrobalan], interspersed with coral rose to the shores of the ocean. Some fishermen seeing these, gathering them into one heap [lucky fishermen !], and taking some of the pearls and coral in a dish, and repairing to the king, reported the event to him' (Mah., i, p. 107). Thus the writer of the original annals was aware that Uruwēla was on the western coast, close to some pearl-banks, where coral also was found.
The town is mentioned again as a place where King Subha (60-66 A.D.) built a wihāra (Mah., i, p. 140). There is no further information respecting Uruwēla until the reign of King Parākrama-Bāhu I (1164–1197 A.D.), who is stated to have (re)-built two hundred and sixteen tanks that belonged to the Buddhist monks, among which is specially included 'the great tank Uruwēla' (Mah., ii, p. 265).
Thus there is not much information in the histories to enable even the approximate position of this town and its 'great tank' to be ascertained, yet when utilised with a knowledge of the country these indications are not quite so vague as they appear at the first glance.
It should be noted that the early writers are rather indefinite in their accounts of the direction in which places lay from Anuradhapura. They generally refer to them as being to the east, west, north or south, and often omit the intermediate points of the compass. When, therefore, they describe Uruwēla as being' to the westward' this may have a rather wide application, and does not necessarily mean due west of the
capital. If this assumption be permissible, we may at once proceed to search for Uruwēla near the site of the pearl-banks of the Gulf of Mannar.
In that part of the country there were only two tanks of importance. One is now called Periya-kaṭṭu-kuļam; its embankment, two miles from Marisi-kaṭṭu, a village not far from the ancient Kutirei-malei, or 'Horse-hill,' promontory, is extremely low; and it cannot have held more than a depth of three or four feet of water. A low masonry dam, forty feet thick, was built across the Mōdaragama-oya, a stream which is usually dry throughout the summer months, in order to divert water into this tank. This appears to be a construction of much later date than the embankment of the reservoir, which would perhaps have been raised had these improvements been completed. No stonework has been found at the embankment, which, however, may have retained enough water to ensure a crop of rice off suitable lands lying near it. Although the tank had a long bank it could hardly be described as a 'great' reservoir.
The other reservoir is the work now known as the Giant's Tank; its original name has been lost. This also was an unfinished work until its recent restoration, but a lower embankment may have existed from ancient times, sufficiently high to impound a shallow sheet of water which would cover a great extent of ground, the bed being extremely flat. Even a depth of five feet of water would have spread over 1930 acres. Thus, although the bank was low, the expression 'great' was a suitable one to apply to this work.
A stone dam, 90 feet thick, called in Tamil the 'Tēkkam,' was built at a later date across the Malwatta-oya, at a point twelve miles away, in order to turn water into this Giant's Tank. At a much earlier period a line of square socket-holes was cut in the rock on which the dam is founded, in the bed of the river, evidently in order to permit strong wooden posts to be inserted into them. These would then form the main supports of a temporary dam which must have crossed the
1 A translation of its Tamil name, Sōḍayan kaṭṭu karei, Giant-built Embankment.
river at the site of the present stone dam. At the distance of a few feet on the down-stream side of each post-socket, a sloping socket-hole was also cut in the rock, to hold the lower end of a sloping strut that would support the post near it.
All the sockets, excepting a few at the northern end of the structure, have been covered up by the later stone dam, but sufficient remain visible to prove clearly and unmistakably for what purpose they were made.
It is manifest that the sockets were cut long prior to the building of the stone dam, in order to enable a dam of sticks and earth that could be repaired easily, to be made across the river for the purpose of diverting water down the only channel cut from it, which runs directly into the Giant's Tank. We see, therefore, that these first works are of early date, for increasing the water-supply of the reservoir. They may be considered proofs that a shallow tank existed there long before the stone dam was built, and that the later work both at the dam and the reservoir consisted only of an improvement and enlargement of the original scheme.
Some kind of regulator was built of brickwork, at the inlet
of the channel, in order to check too great a flow of water down it; and the bricks which still remain at the spot, being of two sizes, may indicate the age of the first wooden dam and of the later stone one. The average size of a good series of the larger bricks is a thickness of 2.51 inches and a breadth of 8.57 inches; Bt. is thus 21.5 inches. If the length was six times the thickness it would be 15.06 inches; if five times, 12.55 inches, the proportion being almost invariably between these figures in the case of such bricks. The contents would be 324 cubic inches, or 270 cubic inches; and the dimensions point to some time from the second to the fourth century A.D. as the date when the bricks were burnt. It may be assumed that the Giant's Tank was already in existence before this period; such a long channel would not be opened until it had been found that a better supply of water was necessary. The later and smaller bricks resemble those found at Polannaruwa in buildings of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and this would appear to be the time when the stone dam was built.
We have seen that the Mahāvansa records the repair or re-construction of the great Uruwēla tank' by ParakramaBahu I. This monarch, or Niśśanka-Malla, who reigned a few years later, had a most laudable habit of leaving a record cut on a stone pillar at the larger reservoirs restored by him. There is one at Padawiya tank, another at Paṇḍā-waewa in the North-western Province, and there are several at the chain of tanks adjoining Tōpā-waewa, the reservoir at Polannaruwa. If the so-called Giant's Tank is the ancient Uruwēla tank enlarged, we might accordingly hope to find at it a similar record of its repair.
In clearing out the bed of one of the breaches at the tank, the late Mr. N. M. Walker, the engineer who completed the recent restoration of the work, discovered a considerable number of cut stones, evidently brought to the spot for the purpose of building a sluice for passing water out of the reservoir. These had been previously covered up by soil washed over them by floods, and their presence was unsuspected. They were all stones such as might be found at abandoned