Evolution of Hydraulic Societies in the Ancient Anuradhapura Kingdom of Sri Lanka

  • P. B. DharmasenaEmail author


The objective of this chapter is to describe an ancient community of Sri Lanka, which developed a sophisticated hydraulic civilization based on a dry-zone agricultural system utilizing a cascade of tanks. The word tank was derived from the Portuguese word ‘tanque’ used for reservoir. The western invasion of the country began with the Portuguese in 1505 followed by the Dutch in 1656 and subsequently by the British in 1798. The local term ‘wewa’ is still in use for the reservoir. The hydraulic civilization evolved as a network of streams and tanks in varying sizes spread over the dry zone of Sri Lanka forming tank clusters referred to as tank cascades. A cascade is a connected series of tanks organized within micro-catchments of the dry zone landscape, storing, conveying and utilizing water from ephemeral rivulets (Madduma Bandara 1985).


Paddy Field Paddy Cultivation Water Hole Undulate Terrain Feeder Canal 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Field Crops Research and Development InstituteMahailluppallamaSri Lanka

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