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growing on a low tree which is al undant in part of the Nilgala district; it is there about the size of the ordinary 'marbles' of schoolboys.
I presume that the round-topped dagabas in which the curve of the side of the dome is an arc of a circle, the centre of which is beyond the vertical axis, represent this form. This outline is seen in the Tissa karanduwas numbered 94 and 96 and Nos. 108-110 at Nikawãe-kanda; and possibly such designs as the Tissa karanduwa No. 05 and the Nikawaekanda karanduwas Nos. 102, 103 and 107 were grouped under this heading. These forms appear to have been rarely adopted in actual construction in Ceylon.
For convenience of reference, I append an amended list of the dimensions of dated bricks, in which I have inserted the sizes of the bricks at the structures to which definite ages have been attributed in this chapter.
There is good reason to believe that about the tenth century the breadth was sometimes under 8 inches and the thickness a little less than 2 inches, but I am unable to give the sizes of any dated bricks of that period.
1 For the age of this temple see The Earliest Inscriptions, No. 75.
THE EARLIEST IRRIGATION WORKS
HE special feature of the ancient civilisation of Ceylon was its irrigation works, which with the exception of part of the mountain district were made throughout the whole country. Their purpose was to store or convey the water which was required for the rice fields that were formed at every suitable place in the island.
Two different systems of irrigation were adopted, depending on the circumstances of each case. According to one the water was impounded in reservoirs, from which it was gradually passed out, either directly onto the fields where it was wanted, or by means of excavated channels down which it flowed to them.
According to the other system, part of the water flowing down the rivers was turned into longer excavated channels which conveyed it to more distant lands, or reservoirs, temporary dams or permanent masonry dams being constructed across the rivers below the off-takes of the channels, in order to divert into them a larger quantity of water than could be secured without such aid when the flow of the rivers began to diminish after the end of the seasonal rains of the two monsoons. The north-east monsoon lasts from October to March, and its regular rains end in January; the Southwest monsoon lasts from April to September, and its rains cease in June.
This latter method of irrigation by means of channels cut from rivers is of the greatest antiquity, having been practised in North-western and Central India, and most probably also Southern India, from immemorial times It originated in the Euphrates valley, where the cultivation
of the fertile lands on both banks of the river was largely dependent on it.
The first record of any irrigation work there is contained in an inscription left by Eannadu, King of Shirpurla in Southern Babylonia, who ruled in about 4000 B.C., and who mentions his construction of several canals, one of them being known as Lummadimshar,' at the side of which he made a reservoir, the first on record, 'a basin (containing) 3600 gur [each being eight bushels] of water.' Another of these canals is specially stated to have been cut from the great river' (Euphrates). Entemena, nephew of Eannadu, recorded the opening of several fresh canals, and also the prolongation of the Euphrates canal to the river Tigris. Urukagina, King of Shirpurla, who reigned in 3900 B.C., according to the latest conclusions,1 and not in 4500 B.C. as was supposed by Dr. Radau (Early Babylonian History, p. 47), also cut a canal there. His own words regarding it are, 'For Ninā her beloved canal Ninākitum-a he has built.' Nina was the Goddess Bau, the Great Mother.
In nearly all cases these early canals were distinguished by special names. It is most improbable that this would be the case when irrigation channels were originally made, and as one of the first ones of which a record has been preserved has its own title it may be concluded that the construction of such works dates from nearly 4500 B.C., or possibly an even earlier time.
In India, we find the digging of channels referred to in very early times (Rig Veda, iii, 33, 6; iv, 19, 2), perhaps in the third millennium B.C.; and the benefits derived from them would be so apparent that doubtless many others continued to be opened from that period down to historic times, even although no actual record of them has been preserved.
While it is almost certain, therefore, that the first Gangetic settlers must have been acquainted with this manner of irrigation before they came to Ceylon, there is nothing to indicate that they brought with them a knowledge of the construction of reservoirs, which as a general rule were neither required 1 King and Hall. Egypt and Western Asia, p. 189.
nor made in the districts inhabited by their ancestors in India. Although an inscription at Junagadh has recorded that one was formed by Pushyagupta, the brother-in-law of the great King Candragupta, and was afterwards repaired by the latter's grandson, the Emperor Aśōka, it appears to have been a comparatively small work, of which little or no trace now remains. It is possible that the Sinhalese acquired a knowledge of the art of reservoir construction in Southern India. In any case, there can be no doubt that the credit of its development and extension in the island is due to some of the first Sinhalese rulers and their responsible advisers.
The nature of the flat plains around the sites of the primitive capitals of Southern India could never have encouraged the construction of reservoirs with high embankments, which, in fact, are still non-existent on them. All that could be attempted there in very early times in the way of making reservoirs would be the formation of shallow village tanks, with embankments from six to ten or twelve feet high, for retaining a supply of rain-water for bathing purposes, and for the irrigation of the adjoining fields attached to each village.
It was only in the districts surrounding the early capitals of Ceylon that the necessary conditions existed for promoting the construction of larger works of this character-a series of shallow valleys down which flowed seasonal streams of moderate size, and a heavy rainfall lasting for only a short period in each monsoon. It may be assumed, therefore, that the formation of all reservoirs of a class with embankments much higher than those of simple village tanks was originally
to the constructive genius of the Sinhalese themselves. At an early date they undertook the raising of great earthen embankments, often some miles in length, across many suitable valleys, thus intercepting the flow of the streams, and storing up during the rainy seasons, in the reservoirs thus formed, immense sheets of water for the irrigation of large
The Indian Antiquary, Vol. vii, p. 257.
? According to Mr. V. A. Smith this king reigned from 321 to 297 B.C. (Early History of India, p. 44). Sir F. Max Müller's date is 315
B.C. (The Dhammapada, p. xxxvi).