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Sri Lanka: Bone samples from mass graves dates back to 15th-18th Century

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On March 2018, construction workers in Mannar uncovered skeletal remains while preparing to build a new outlet for the state, in place of its old building that had been demolished. From then more than 300+ skeletal remains of  individuals have been unearthed, out of which around 30 where of children. The archaeologists had also found porcelain, ceramic and metal objects, in addition to some jewelry worn by the victims.

When asked by media, Professor Raj Somadeva, a forensic archaeologist from the University of Kelaniya near Colombo, who is leading a team of experts at the site said “The entire area can be divided into two parts. In one segment we have a proper cemetery. In the second part, you have a collection of human skeletons which have been deposited in an informal way”, he also added  “According to my experience this is the largest mass grave ever excavated”.

Earlier this year six samples of different individual were sent to the Beta Analytics in Miami, Florida, USA for radiocarbon dating to determine the time periods in which the deaths occurred, the reports which were received were then submitted to the local court recently which indicated that the samples were from the year 1499-1719. This was the period from when the portuguese and the dutch arrived to Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and to the start of the colonial period.

This place in the recent past have been the battle-front which saw the armed conflict between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a militant group which was formed to create a independent Tamil state, Tamil Eelam, and the government. This conflict lasted for over 25 years, from 1983 to 2009, with an estimate of about 60,000-70,000 people dead more than 20,000 people identified as missing.

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