Timeline Of Sri Lanka


(see also: Southeast Asia Timeline)

I. Overall / Archaeological

25,000 BC - 1,000 BCPrehistoric (Mesolithic culture)
1,000 BC - 400 BCEarly Iron Age I (Megalithic-BRW culture)
400 BC - 200 BCEarly Iron Age II
250 BC - 100 ADEarly Historic (Anuradhapura)
100 AD - 500 ADMiddle Historic I (Sigiriya)
500 - 1000 ADMiddle Historic II
1000 - 1300 ADLate Historic I (Polonnaruwa)
1300 - 1500 ADLate Historic II
1500 - 1800 ADColonial Period (Portuguese, Dutch; coast) and Kandyan Kingdom (interior)
1800 - 1948 ADBritish Colonial Period

II. Ancient Period

10,000 BC - 543 BCPrehistory. Austronesian migration. Microliths from heat-shattered quartz. Urn burials.
543 BCYear One in the Mahavamsa. Sinhalese settlers, led by Prince Vijaya, arrive from India.
300 BCMegasthenes, a Greek historian, mentions Sri Lanka in his writings.
250 BC - 459 ADEarly Anuradhapura Period
c. 250 BC - 210 BCKing Devanampiya Tissa
c. 250 BC - 200 BCMahinda introduces Buddhism from India to Sri Lanka.
161 BC - 137 BCKing Dutugemunu unifies Sri Lanka.
35 BC - 32 BCPali Canon (Buddhist scriptures) committed to writing.
45 ADEnvoys from Sri Lanka visit Rome.
303 - 331Tooth Relic arrives.
412 - 413Fa Xian visits Anuradhapura.
432 - 459Tamil invasion.
459 - 1017Late Anuradhapura Period
459 - 477King Dhatusena repels Tamils but is killed by his son Kasyapa.
477 - 495King Kasyapa builds Sigiriya but is defeated by his brother and commits suicide on the battlefield.
7th - 10th centuriesA complicated time of alliances and conflicts between Lanka and several South Indian states, as: the Pandya, Pallava, Chola, etc.
993Cholas sack Anuradhapura.


III. Medieval Period

1073 - 1215Polonnaruwa Period
1073Native Sinhalese defeat the Cholas; new capital established at Polonnaruwa. Sculptures at Gal Vihara.
1110 - 1153Rival capitals.
1153 - 1186Reign of Parakrama I (The Great). Political reunification and building program at Polonnaruwa.
1187 - 1196Reign of Nissanka Malla. Building program continues at Polonnaruwa.
1214 - 1597Period of Disunity
1214 - 1236Kalingan invaders destroy Polonnaruwa; ephemeral capitals thereafter.
1254 - 1324Marco Polo visits the island.
1505Portuguese arrive.


IV. Modern Period

16th century (1st half)Portuguese occupy the coastal areas.
16th century (2d half)Native Singhalese kings (Rajasinha I, others) and Portuguese puppet king (Dom Jao Dharmapala) vie for dominance.
1597 - 1815Kandyan Period
1597Native capital moves to Kandy, holds out against European invaders for next 200 years.
1656 - 1796Dutch Colonial Period
1656Dutch oust the Portuguese.
1796 - 1948British Colonial Period
1796Dutch surrender to British.
1802Ceylon (the British name for the island) becomes a Crown Colony. British establish coffee plantations.
1815Last king of Kandy is deposed and exiled to India.
1870Coffee blight forces changeover of plantation system from growing coffee to growing tea.
1948 - presentIndependence
1948Ceylon declares independence.
1972Ceylon changes name to Republic of Sri Lanka.
1985Tamil Tigers (LTTE) emerge from Jaffna secessionist movement.
1985 - presentNational development continues, amidst ongoing LTTE terrorism.