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Sunday December 10th, 2023

Prehistoric dwellers in Sri Lanka used the bow and arrow before Europeans – Study

ECONOMYNEXT – Cave dwellers in Sri Lanka used bow-and-arrow technology 48,000-years ago, the earliest such evidence found outside Africa, a study published Friday in the journal Science Advances said.

UPI reported that the evidence was found in the so called Fa Hien cave, also known as the Pahiyangala in the Kalutara district.

The cave and remains of late Pleistocene Human fossilized remains were first discovered by Sri Lanka government archaeologist Suren Deraniyagala in 1968.

Researchers also found tools that were likely used to make clothing, technology thought to be limited to cold-weather populations, according to the study.

As dozens of studies have demonstrated, Asia — especially south and Southeast Asia — was host to a complex history of human migration and settlement. Understanding this history is key to figuring out how early humans moved across Earth’s continents during the Late Pleistocene, between 129,000 and 11,700 years ago, the UPI report said.

Long-occupied caves like the one at Fa-Hien Lena, found deep inside Sri Lanka’s Wet Zone forests, can offer insights into the region’s human history.

“Fa-Hien Lena Cave was first excavated in the 1980s when it yielded some of the earliest human fossils, bone tools and miniaturized stone tools — or ‘microliths’ — anywhere in South Asia, and the earliest on the island of Sri Lanka,” Patrick Roberts, an archaeologist and postdoctoral researcher with the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany, told UPI in an email.

“What was particularly interesting was that this site was found in the modern day tropical rainforest of Sri Lanka,” Roberts said. “These environments were long thought to be barriers to human occupation, with limited prey opportunities, toxic plants and disease challenges.”

Excavations at the cave revealed tools and artifacts representing four distinct periods of occupation, dating from 48,000 to 4,000 years ago. Among the artifacts, researchers identified 130 projectile points carved from animal bone. Many of the points featured impact fractures suggestive of hunting use.

“We can now place its [Fa-Hien Lena’s] occupation as starting at 48,000 to 45,000 years ago and have shown that humans in the rainforests of Sri Lanka were relying on tropical resources, including difficult-to-catch prey like monkeys and squirrels,” Roberts said. “This makes it some of the earliest evidence for human rainforest occupation and use outside of Africa.”

Animal remains suggest humans first used bow-and-arrows to hunt adult monkeys, rodents and other small mammals. Over time, humans increased the length of their tools in order to target larger animals, including pigs and deer.

The findings offer evidence of the tools and techniques early humans used to survive challenging habitats, such as dense tropical forests. Clothing may have helped populations avoid being eaten my mosquitoes, while bow-and-arrows allowed early humans to hunt fast-moving animals.

Most surveys of Pleistocene innovation have focused on Europe and the savannas of Africa as the wellsprings of material culture among early human populations, ignoring other parts of Africa, Asia, Australasia and the Americas.

“While the earliest clear evidence for bow-and-arrow technologies does indeed come from South Africa 64,000 years ago, the Sri Lanka evidence shows that it was not a one-off innovation linked to a singular adaptation,” Roberts said. “Instead, they were part of a human ‘toolkit’ that was multiple, diverse, and adaptable to different settings — in this case tropical rainforests and small, quick mammals.”

Researchers are currently working on excavating ancient human sites along the coast of Sri Lanka. Some evidence suggests different human groups along the coast and in the island’s interior forests may have interacted.

“We also found shell and ochre beads which suggest human symbolism was also being used in a rainforest context,” Roberts said. “Particularly fascinating is the fact that some of these beads come from shells from the sea.”

“We know, from isotopic evidence on human tooth enamel from the nearby site of Batadomba-lena, and later humans at Fa-Hien Lena, that humans were relying one rainforest resources for their diets all year round,” he said.

If the people of Fa-Hien Lena remained in the forests but used beads from the coast, it’s likely they traded with people from other parts of the island. (Colombo, June 13, 2020)

Edited by Arjuna Ranawana


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ADB USD200mn loan for Sri Lanka economic stabilization efforts

ECONOMYNEXT – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a US 200 million dollar concessional loan to Sri Lanka to help stabilize the country’s finance sector.

The Financial Sector Stability and Reforms Program comprises two subprograms of IS 200 million dollars each, according to a statement by the ADB.

“The program’s overarching development objective is fully aligned with the country’s strategy of maintaining finance sector stability, while ensuring that banks are well-positioned for eventual recovery,” ADB Country Director for Sri Lanka Takafumi Kadono was quoted as saying in the statement.

“The expected development outcome is a stable financial system providing access to affordable finance for businesses in various sectors of the economy.”

The ADB statement continues:

“Subprogram 1 targets short-term stabilization and crisis management measures that were implemented in 2023, while subprogram 2 is planned to be implemented in 2024 and focuses on structural reforms and long-term actions to restore growth in the banking sector.

The program will help strengthen the stability and governance of the country’s banking sector; improve the banking sector’s asset quality; and deepen sustainable and inclusive finance, particularly for women-led micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises.

According to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) latest review, Sri Lanka’s economy is showing tentative signs of stabilization, although a full economic recovery is not yet assured.

The program is a follow-on assistance from ADB’s crisis response under the special policy-based loan that was approved for Sri Lanka in May 2023.

It is aligned with the fourth pillar of the IMF’s Extended Fund Facility provided to Sri Lanka to help the country regain financial stability.

It is also in line with the government’s reform agenda, including strengthening the operational independence of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) and its designation as the country’s macroprudential authority.

In designing this subprogram 1 loan, ADB has maintained close coordination and collaboration with the IMF to design targeted regulatory reforms for the banking sector—including the asset quality review—and with the World Bank on strengthening the deposit insurance scheme.

“The loan is accompanied by a $1 million grant from ADB’s Technical Assistance Special Fund to provide advisory, knowledge, and institutional capacity building for Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Finance and CBSL.”

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Sri Lank in blackout as power grid hit by cascading failure

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka suffered a blackout as Saturday evening as the state-run Ceylon Electricity Board grid was hit by a cascading power failure.

The cascading failure is believed to have been triggered by the failure of the Kothmale-Biyagama transmission line.

“The Ceylon Electricity Board wishes to inform our customers that due to the failure of Kotmale – Biyagama main transmission line, an island wide power failure has occurred,” CEB Spokesman Noel Priyantha said.

“Step by step restorations are underway and it may take few hours to completely restore the power supply.”

With hydro plants running flat out, a outage of the line tends to create a big imbalance in the demand and supply, leading to tripping of more lines and generators.

Lines can trip due to lightening strikes, or equipment failures.

Sri Lanka last suffered a cascading failure in December 2021, due to the failure of the same transmission line.

RelatedSri Lanka power blackout as grid hit by cascading failure

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Sri Lanka to host regional Food and Agriculture Organization conference

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will host the 37th session of the Asia Pacific Regional Conference (APRC) of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), from February 19-22, 2024 in Colombo.

The Conference will bring together agriculture ministers and officials from 46 countries across the region to discuss challenges in food and agriculture.

“The 37th APRC will provide a vital platform for regional collaboration, benefitting the agricultural landscape, fisheries sector and environment of Sri Lanka,” Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said at a press briefing on Friday (8) to announce the conference.

FAO has had an active presence in Sri Lanka for over 40 years. “FAO has supported the country in the implementation of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), and the development of the fisheries sector for growth and climate resilience,” Vimlendra Sharan, FAO Representative for Sri Lanka and the Maldives said.

“The APRC conference will be an opportunity to highlight the innovative approaches introduced in partnership with the government.”

By hosting APRC, Sri Lanka hopes to demonstrate the country’s dedication to the growth of sustainable agriculture, and showcase its commitment to sustainable agricultural development.

The APRC agenda will include a forum on agritourism, especially requested by the Sri Lankan government.

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