A Study of Medieval Population in Sri Lanka With Reference to the Literary Sources

6 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2021

Date Written: March 21, 2021


Much research has been done on the medieval history of Sri Lanka, but not much attention has been paid to comparison of distribution and statistics of contemporary population to the medieval period. Some research is available on Polonnaruwa and the Dambadeniya periods separately at different intervals. Thus, research on the demographic details of Sri Lanka during the medieval period is scarce. Reliable statistics on the population of Sri Lanka date back to around 1871, the period of the British rule. Therefore, it is difficult to comment on the population of Sri Lanka during the historical periods, such as Rajarata, and particularly when the southwestern kingdoms were active from the 13th century to the modern period and the Kandyan period. However, the periodical sources of literary sources such as Poojavaliya, Nikaya Sangrahaya, Rajavaliya, and Dambadeni Asna written in connection with the reign of Parakramabahu the Great in Polonnaruwa (c. 1153-1186) and the reign of Parakramabahu II in Dambadeniya (c. 1236-1270 CE) report some information regarding the population of the country at the same time. This research is being done with the objective of researching whether it is possible to accept those quantities as true and this is a comparative study. This research employs a qualitative data analysis. The findings are based on a comparative analysis of contemporary literary sources written during the research period, comparing the current population figures with those in the literature. An exploration of these sources reveal that Sri Lankan population was larger than the current population between the 12th and 14th centuries. That is, one has to be careful in reaching conclusions as the information related to the medieval period is limited and the sources are often written for other purposes as well. Therefore, more exploratory type of field research- excavations are needed is this area to support the findings in this study and to draw definite conclusions regarding the population in the medieval Sri Lanka.

Keywords: Medieval period, Sri Lanka, Literary sources, Polonnaruwa, Dambadeniya

Suggested Citation

U.N.K., Rathnayake, A Study of Medieval Population in Sri Lanka With Reference to the Literary Sources (March 21, 2021). Proceedings of the 7th International Research Conference on Humanities & Social Sciences (IRCHSS) 2021, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3809076 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3809076

Rathnayake U.N.K. (Contact Author)

University of Sri Jayewardenepura

Nugegoda, Nugegoda 10250
Sri Lanka

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