Kuragala is a vast Buddhist monastery complex in the western part of the Ratnapura District, 18 km west of Balangoda and 5 km south of Kalthota. It covers a number of rock outcrops, which have become an important archaeological excavated site for research on the Balangoda culture. Recently, researchers found stone tools, necklaces, fossilized bone fragments and a complete human skeleton.
Kuragala is the oldest archaeological site found so far in the intermediate zone of Sri Lanka, which encompasses the areas between the wet-zone and the dry-sone of the island. The intermediate zone consists of narrow stripes in the south and the west and almost the entire central highlands.
According to the radio-carbon dating done by a US institute, the Kuragala site had five layers of human habitations from 14,000 to 4,000 years BC, which is the oldest date for an inhabited site in the intermediate zone. For comparison, the famous Bellanbendipelessa, where the Balangoda man was discovered, was dated 11,000 years. Earlier remains of human beings and civilization are found in Sri Lanka only in the wet zone areas such as Pahiyangala and Batadomba caves.
One interesting result of recent research is that seashells were found, proving that inhabitants from the Kuragala caves had close links with coastal areas. Excavations at earlier Balangoda culture settlements in the wet zone also prove relations with coastal areas, indicating very early forms of trade in prehistoric Sri Lanka.
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