Prof. S.D.S. Seneviratne

Office Address: 

Department of Archaeology,
University of Peradeniya,
Sri Lanka.

Personal Website: 
  • I had my primary and secondary school education at Ananda College, Colombo. My University education (BA, MA, Ph.D.) was completed at Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University (1970-1980). I returned to Sri Lanka in 1980 and joined the Department of Archaeology, University of Peradeniya as a tenured faculty member. I subsequently guided the academic and research agenda of the Department for several years as its head and as Professor of Archaeology. I have made positive contributions towards curriculum development and knowledge dissemination through my participation at various academic programs and committees in Sri Lanka and overseas, especially the USA. In the course of the past thirty years not only have I mentored the next generation of archaeologists in problem oriented and issue related archaeology, I have spearheaded several Sri Lankan and international archaeology and heritage projects with international funding. Since the early 1980’s I had my appointments in the UNESCO Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle Projects (later Central Cultural Fund - CCF) and in 2007 I was appointed Director General of the CCF. As DG/CCF I completed the state of the art museums at Kataragama, Sigiriya and Galle and also launched several heritage initiatives, regeneration, empowerment and fund raising programs. In my overseas academic and research activities I have delivered several guest lectures and orations in France, UK, USA, India, Korea, Netherlands, Pakistan, Maldives and China and I was also visiting professor at several Universities and prestigious Colleges in the US. In the course of these years I have also received several distinguished awards and academic and research distinctions. My efforts as a peace activist and professional academic and archaeologist are dedicated towards the spread of greater understanding among polarized communities providing necessary space for the moderate voice of reconciliation and heritage for conflict resolution.
Educational Qualifications:
  • B.A. (Delhi, India), M.A. & Ph.D. (JNU, India)
Appointments (Selected) :
  • Professor of Archaeology. University of Peradeniya.
    Director General. Central Cultural Fund (Custodian Organization for UNESCO Declared World Heritage sites) 2007-2010
    Senior Advisor (Culture). Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (2003-2005)
    Co Director. Anuradhapura Citadel Archaeology Project (with Dr. Siran Deraniyagala)

    Visiting Appointments
    Visiting Fulbright Professor. Cornell University. Ithaca. NY. USA (1990-1991)
    Visiting Scientist. Institute of Fundamental Studies. Kandy. (1992-1998)
    Visiting Professor. Jawaharlal Nehru University. New Delhi India (1996)
    Freeman Distinguished Professor. Carleton College. Northfield. MN. USA. (1998)
    Visiting Fulbright Professor. Carleton College. Northfield. MN. USA (Jan – June 2006)
    Tallman Distinguished Professor. Bowdoin College. Brunswick. MA. USA (July – Dec. 2006)
    Cornell Distinguished Professor. Swarthmore College. Swarthmore. PA. USA (2010-2011).
    Consultant Archaeologist. World Megalithic Association. Government of South Korea
    Consultant Archaeologist. American Institute of Archaeology. USA.
    Consultant on Heritage and Tourism. Republic of Maldives.

Memberships & Awards :
  • Distinguished Leadership Award for Outstanding Contributions to Archaeology & History. American Biographical Institute. USA. (2002)
  • Fellow & Life Member. National Academy of Science Sri Lanka. (2003)
  • Distinguished Visitor to India. Central Government of India. (2004)
  • Fellow & Life Member. Sri Lanka Council of Archaeologists.
  • Life member. Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Life Member. Indian Society for Pre Historic & Quaternary Studies
  • Member. Social Scientists’ Association (SSA). Sri Lanka.
  • Member. International Commission of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS).
  • Associated member. American Institute of Archaeology. USA
Keynote/Invited Papers :
  • 1. Chieftains, Kings and Sacred Spaces: Ideological integration in Early Social Formations (2000. Tallman Professor Oration. Bowdoin College. Brunswick)
  • 2. Management of Knowledge Information in a Multi Cultural Society: Redefining Education for the Next Generation. (2001. Colonel Henry Steele Memorial Oration. Colombo).
  • 3. The Philosophical and Social Role of Early Buddhism in South India. (2003 Vesak Commemoration Lecture. Chennai).
  • 4. Problems of Ceylon History & the Fear of History. (2004. G.C. Mendis Memorial Oration. Colombo).
  • 5. People to People Connectivity and Peace Interaction: Redefining Heritage for Conflict Resolution. (2007 Vesak Commemoration Oration. Katmandu).
  • 6. Ordering the Past and Legitimating the Present. Politics of Archaeology in a Global Context (2006. Henri M. Jackson Lecture. Whitman College. Walla Walla).
  • 7. Situating Sri Lanka’s Role in the SAARC Region. DA Rajapaksa Memorial Lecture. 2008.
  • 8. Opposing Inclusion & Unresolving Conflict: Postcolonial Subversion of Knowledge in South Asia. (2011. Lindersmith Lecture. Carleton College. Northfield)
  • 9. Past in the Present and the Present in the Past. (2011. Department of Anthropology Forum. Macalester College. St. Pauls. MN. USA)
  • 10. Heritage Odyssey: Unfolding the Multi-faceted Personality of an Island Civilization. (2011. Cornell Professor Oration. Swarthmore College. Swarthmore)
  • 11. Humanism for Peace: A Buddhist Perspective (2011. Talk delivered at the UN General Assembly. New York).
  • 12. Center and periphery during the Formative Period of Sri Lanka: Redefining Contested Spaces in Historiography. Department of South Asian Studies. University of Pennsylvania. 2011)
Research Interest :
  • Pioneered Early Iron Age Archaeology, Environmental Archaeology (including sections in Archaeological Sciences), Settlement Archaeology, Pre Industrial Technology and Ethnoarchaeology in the research agenda of Sri Lankan archaeology. I adhere to a strong multi disciplinary research rubric drawing much information from the social sciences, humanities and natural science in field studies and in interpretative studies. My current research involves Environmental Sustainability and Archaeology, Heritage Management and Tourism in South Asia , Nationalism – Multiculturalism and Archaeology, Higher Education in Multi-cultural Societies. In addition I have undertaken several research popular programs on Heritage for human rights activity, conflict resolution and peace studies (with special reference to students), revitalizing traditional craft communities and awareness programs for grass roots level communities in heritage initiatives for economic regeneration and skills development.
Research Publications :

  • 2009b [Editor] A visual Narration of a Unique Heritage Legacy. Sigiriya Museum & Information Centre. Colombo. Central Cultural Fund.
  • 2010 [Executive Editor]. Corridors of Oceanic Heritage: Galle Maritime Archaeology Museum & Information Center. Colombo. Central Cultural Fund.
  • 2010a Contradictions of Development in the Chasm of Survival or Obliteration: Saga of Crafts Communities in the Central Province of Sri Lanka. Colombo. FLICT & Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit.
  • 2011 (Executive Editor) The Sigiriya Museum (Central Cultural Fund Museum series I). Colombo. Central Cultural Fund
  • 2011a [In press] A New Heritage Road Map for Sri Lanka in a Globalized Economy. Colombo. Center for Policy Alternatives.
Other Credentials :

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