Colombo Telegraph

Carbon Dating: Human Heads & A Dubious Parcel 

By Kingsley Kurukulasuriya

Kingsley Kurukulasuriya

Carbon Dating is a method for determining the age of an object containing organic material by using the properties of radiocarbon, a radioactive isotope of carbon. Excavations at the mass grave in Mannar began when the site was first discovered during the initial phases of the construction of a SATHOSA building in the area. Samples obtained from the mass grave at Mannar were sent to Beta Analytic, USA for a Carbon 14 test.

The carbon dating report prepared by Florida-based Beta Analytic – Radiocarbon dating services has revealed the samples obtained from the Mannar Mass Grave belonged to people who had died 350 to 600 years ago.

According to the Sri Lankan newspapers, there was only one angle regarding the human skeletons found at Mannar. A Tamil politician, claimed the heads found buried there to be those of Tamils murdered by the Sri Lankan Army.

In the latest news, P.B.S. Hemachandra, Lieutenant Commander (retired) SLN, refers to many books, according to which the people massacred in Mannar quite a while ago, were Sinhalese.

According to another report, a Tamil leader has categorically stated that this place in Mannar was where a large number of Tamils were put to death by the Sri Lankan army. It was written with vengeance against the Army.

President Rajapaksa inaugurated the exposition of so-called ashes of former King Dutugemunu who reigned in the first century BC at the event organized by the National Heritage Ministry – May 18, 2011 | File photo

The bodies in the latter case were identified by Carbon Dating as those of people who were killed during the Dutch period. Another writer stresses that these bodies were of Sinhalese people massacred by the British.

The main question now is whether the government is accepting the decision of the Carbon Dating done in this case.

Scientifically speaking, all people — the government and others in a country – should accept the verdict given by the scientific institute after carbon dating.

When Hans Christian Anderson wrote “The Emperor’s New Clothes” he must have been thinking of Sri Lankans who exhibited their gullibility when a parcel of charcoal was taken in procession round the country twice, the government proclaiming its contents to be those of King Dutugemunu’s ashes. This is what a government did several years ago to fool the people.

But one MAN stood tall against this proclamation from the beginning. He is Dr. Raja de Silva who, incidentally, saved not only all paintings at Hindgala but all but two of the famous paintings at Sigiriya after their dreadful vandalism. He said what was sent round the country to be worshipped was nothing but a parcel of charcoal. The others who were called to decide on the matter, excepting Dr. Abhaya Aryasinhe, stated that the parcel contained the ashes of King Dutugemunu.

Although the parcel was sent to a laboratory in France, the results were not made public, maybe by a “mild Despot”. Clearly, this amounts to a government hiding information from the public. It is high time the results of that laboratory test were made public in Sri Lanka.

Will the government, at least now, disclose the results of the tests done on the parcel of charcoal or the parcel which others assumed to comprise the ashes of King Dutugemunu?

Back to Home page