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Ancient Pandyan coins bring intrigue and dispute in Sri Lanka

A recent discovery of one thousand nine hundred and four Ancient Pandyan coins in Mannar has brought up archaeological interest from Tamil academics and professionals on the island, but has led to some Sinhalese archaeologists claiming that they coins are from a Sinhala-based lineage.

An archaeology field study of the coins was carried out by Jaffna University senior History professor P. Pushparatnam, Jaffna Fort Reconstruction Officer P. Kapilan, Jaffna Fort Excavation Officer V.Manimaran and archaeology graduates S. Dasinthan and K. Kirikaran.

The University lecturer examining the Pandyan coins stated that similar coins were previously found and that the antiquity of the coins will shed light regarding the Vanni region. He added that details in relation to the research will be released soon along with evidence.

The Pandya dynasty was an ethnically Tamil ancestry that ruled multiple regions in South India and Sri Lanka, and has been referenced to as early as 4th century BCE by Greek and Roman sources.

The discovery of the ancient Pandyan coins has instigated field research at other archaeological sites such as Nochchikulam, Pallankottai, Salamban, Eramadu and coastal areas.

Since the discovery of the ancient Pandyan coins, Sinhalese archaeologists have attempted to claim the coins as belonging to the Anuradhapura or Polonnaruwa period, in an apparent attempt to link them to Sinhalese lineage. Since the return of the Rajapaksa regime, the appointment of an all-Sinhala Archaeology committee, reports of modifying the Antiquities Ordinance and the construction of Buddhist structures across the North-East has raised concerns of further Sinhalisation in the region.

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