National Geographic : 1907 Mar
VOL. XVIII, No. 3 WASHINGTON MARCH, 1907 .. AT.IOMAL Li ETBAIPHIlD ARCHEOLOGY IN THE AIR BY ELIZA R. SCIDMORE AUTHOR OF " JAVA-THE GARDEN OF THE EAST," " WINTER INDIA," ETC. ETC. Copyright 1907 by the National Geographic Society WHEN I was first in Ceylon and had driven the seventy miles down to Anuradhapura and seventy miles back again to Kandy, the archaeologists had not taken Sigiri in hand, and no tale of its wonders tempted us from the straight and smooth post-road. Ten years later every one talked of Sigiri, and its fame was in the very air. Copies of wonderfully pre served frescoes, done on Sigiri's rock walls fourteen centuries ago, met one in the Colombo Museum, and driving par ties came into Kandy and urged me to go to Sigiri by all means; but none of these talkers had "climbed the Rock," whatever that might mean. Ceylon, in its natural beauties, is a fair pattern for Paradise, second only to Java-the most beautiful country on earth-and one appreciates this paradise the more if he takes long driving trips over the perfect roads. The short drive of sixteen miles from Kandy down to Matale is renowned as the finest drive in Ceylon and is an unbroken panorama of ideal, cultivated tropical beauty. For another ten miles the road is arched over with tamarind trees, festooned with pepper vines, and sentinelled here and there with splendid banyans and talipot palms, with the blue Matale mountains in the back ground. After that, cultivation lags, a few miles of rice fields follow, and one jogs along past the unending jungle of the abandoned lowlands, where scant rains fall only during three months of the year. This region was once the rich est and most fertile in Ceylon, a vast rice plain abundantly irrigated from tanks and lakes that stored water beyond all need. This rich plain and Anurad hapura, a city of fabulous wealth, tempted the Tamils of the Indian main land to many raids, and after a last in vasion the marauders destroyed all the tanks and canals before they retreated to the Continent. Drought, disease, and famine swept away the few remaining inhabitants, jungle overran the territory, and wild elephants trumpeted there un disturbed. Their paths and the pilgrim's path through to the sacred Bo-Tree at Anuradhapura were the only roads in the wilderness, until coffee culture on the Matale hills tempted Tamil coolies over to Jaffna, whence they made their way on foot to Kandy and the plantations.