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Important professional collaborations

In addition to being Prof. Paranavitana’s only student, Prematilleke established and easy rapport and professional connections with experts in his own and related fields far and wide. This section mentions a few important personalities he worked with in his lifetime.


Roland Silva

No biography of Prematilleke would be complete without the mention of Dr. Roland Silva. They were ‘brothers in arms’, and much of their work over the decades was done together. They later teamed up with Nandana Chutiwongs, to publish the series “Paintings of Sri Lanka” and “Sculpture of Sri Lanka”. 

Dr Roland Silva was a prominent Sri Lankan architect, archaeologist, and conservationist who made significant contributions to the fields of architecture, archaeology, and cultural heritage. He was a former Commissioner of Archaeology, the Founder and Director General of the Central Cultural Fund, and a past President of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS).

These 2 lifelong friends, collaborators, and ‘brothers’ as they referred to themselves, passed away within 3 months of each other, underscoring their samsaric bond.

Prematilleke worked closely with many other famous archeologists from Sri Lanka as well. Photographs available with some of them are below

L-R Prof Sudharshan Seneviratne, Prof. Nimal de Silva, Prof. W.H. Wijayapala (2nd row), Prof. Prematilleke, Prof. Senake Bandaranayake, Prof. Siran Deraniyagala

Three great archaeological minds together – (L-R) Dr. Roland Silva, Prof. Prematilleke, Prof. Senake Bandaranayake

With Dr. L.K. Karunaratne at the Polonnaruva museum they created.

With Dr. Gamini Wijesuriya in UK

Arjuna Aluvihare

Emeritus Professor of Surgery, University of Peradeniya, Vidyajyothi Prof. Arjuna Aluvihare was the Founder President of The College of Surgeons of Sri Lanka and was a President of the Sri Lanka Medical Association. He was the Chancellor of the University of Peradeniya for 25 years. 

He was consulted on the surgical instruments found at the excavations of Alahana Parivena Polonnaruva, and he co-authored many publications and presentations on this with Prof. Prematilleke.

Eugene Wickramanayake

Prof. Eugene Wickramanayake was the Emeritus Professor of Anatomy at the University of Peradeniya, and a renowned anatomist and geneticist.

She was consulted by Prof. Prematilleke on the skeletal remains found at the excavation site of Alahana Parivena Polonnaruva.


Nandana Chutiwongs

Dr. Chutiwongs is a renowned scholar in the field of art history, archaeology, and iconography, with a focus on South (Sri Lanka) and Southeast Asia. She was born in Bangkok, Thailand, and has an extensive academic background, having studied at Silpakorn University in Bangkok, the University of Amsterdam, and the University of Leiden . She has held positions such as a lecturer at the Institute of South Asian Archaeology, University of Amsterdam, and curator of the Department of South and Mainland Southeast Asia at the National Museum of Ethnology, Leiden. 

Dr. Chutiwongs had the longest collaboration with Prof. Prematilleke, of any foreign scholar. She was an integral part of the famed and formidable trio consisting of herself, Prof. Prematilleke, and Dr. Roland Silva, who published many works of value, notably the mammoth monographic series “Paintings of Sri Lanka” and “Sculpture of Sri Lanka”. 

More than a colleague, Nandana is a close friend of the Prematilleke family; for the many decades they worked together, she has been a regular guest at their home both in Kandy and afterwards in Colombo, on her visits to Sri Lanka. Prof. Prematilleke was the Editor-in-Chief of her 2 volume Felicitation publication titled ‘Abhinandanamālā: Nandana Chutiwongs felicitation volume, in 2010.

Janice Stargardt

Fellow of Sidney Sussex College, Professorial Research Fellow in Asian Historical Archaeology and Geography (Department of Geography), and Senior Fellow of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, UK.

Professor Stargardt was a leading expert on the historical geography and archaeology of South and South-East Asia, focusing on the transition of societies from Iron Age villages to complex, literate and urbanized societies. She worked with Prematilleke as Co-Director appointed by UNESCO during the inception of the UNESCO – Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle project at Alahana Parivena, Polonnaruva.

K de B Codrington

Prof. Kenneth de Burgh Codrington was a British archaeologist and art historian of India who was Keeper of the Indian Section of the Victoria and Albert Museum (1935–1948) and Professor of Indian Archaeology at the University of London (1948–1966). 

Prof. Prematilleke had the honour of studying under him for his PhD in London. In 1969, Prof Codrington was commissioned to reorganize the teaching of Archaeology, under the auspices of the National Council for Higher Education, and at Peradeniya, he conducted the first Training course in Excavation Techniques in collaboration with. Prematilleke.


L-R Prematilleke, Dr. Godakumbura, Prof.  Codrington, Prof. Paranavitana, The British High Commissioner Mr. Bailey, Dr. Saddhamangala Karunaratne, Dr, Roland Silva.

Nancy and Heather Bell

The granddaughters of the famed archaeologist who worked in Sri Lanka, H.C.P. Bell, they lived in UK but maintained close contacts with Sri Lanka, visiting many times, researching their grandfather’s work. They became close friends of the Prematillekes, and stayed with each other on their visits to each other’s countries.

Roeloff Munneke

Dr. Munneke, a Dutch archaeologist / musaeologist (former Curator, National Museum of Ethnology, Leiden) worked with Prof, Prematilleke on arranging the museum display of the Museum at Polonnaruva, and later contributed articles to publications edited by him (e.g, the Nandana Chutiwongs Felicitation Volume).

Nigel Seeley

A British conservationist, Head of the Department of Archaeological Conservation and Materials Science at the Institute of Archaeology in London University (from 1986 part of University College London). He was a Consultant to the Unesco-Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle Project, during which time he worked with, and he and his wife Mary-Ann and 3 sons developed a lasting friendship with the Prematillekes.

R.G. Albertson

A pioneering liberal arts educator attached to the Religion Department, University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, Washington. A Professor of religion from 1956 to 1987, he helped found and direct the Honors Program and served as director of the humanities division. True to his passion for the mystique of Asian culture, he initiated the Pacific Rim/Asia Study-Travel Program, which allowed students to combine academics with real-world experience. This brought him in contact with Prof, Prematilleke, whom he invited for a lecture tour to the USA in 1983.



Nagaraja Rao

An Indian archaeologist who served as Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) from 1984 to 1987. He was a long-standing friend and peer of Prof. Prematilleke, and contributed a chapter for his Felicitation Volume ‘Sri Nagabhinandanam, Dr M. S, Nagaraja Rao Festschrift’ in 1995.

Deborah Swallow

Professor Swallow was the Märit Rausing Director of the internationally renowned Courtauld Institute of Art for 18 years. Alongside her commitment to education and curation, she is a distinguished proponent of the broadest possible appreciation of art and its histories, and a specialist in Indian art and anthropology. Prof. Prematilleke associated with her during his work in London, and corresponded on academic matters over the years.



Johanna Engelberta van Lohuizen-de Leeuw

A Dutch archaeologist and art historian, specializing in South and South-east Asia. Fluent in Sanskrit, she contributed important research to the study of antiquities in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Thailand and Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Her collaboration with Prematilleke goes way back to when she did site visits in Sri Lanka in 1961. In  1978, she co-edited the Senarat Paranavitana Commemoration Volume with him and K. Indrapala,

Raymond and Bridget Allchin

Raymond and Bridget Allchin were a British archaeologist couple who made significant contributions to the field of South Asian archaeology. 

Raymond Allchin was a British archaeologist and Indologist. He was known for his significant contribution to the study of the ancient history of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Sri Lanka. He and his wife, Bridget, formed one of the most influential British partnerships in the post-Independence study of South Asian archaeology. 

Bridget Allchin was an archaeologist who specialized in South Asian archaeology. Bridget was a pioneering female field-archaeologist in South Asia at a time when there were none. Her research interests and publications stretched across South Asia from Afghanistan to Sri Lanka.

Prematilleke trained with Prof. Raymond Allchin during his PhD; he later invited him for a guest lecture when he visited London in 1984.

K. A. R. Kennedy

Prof. Kenneth Adrian Raine Kennedy was an anthropologist. He was Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Anthropology and Asian Studies in the Division of Biological Sciences at Cornell University USA. He was known for his field studies of early humans and their predecessors in South Asia. Among his areas of interest were forensic anthropology and human skeletal biology. 

He visited Polonnaruva in 1987 to study and conduct a workshop on the skeleton of a young man found during the Alahana Parivena excavations. He was interested in determining essential features attributed to  the skeleton in general and its positioning in particular. 

Li Tsiang

An expert from the Beijing National Museum, he examined the Chinese Ceramics found at Alahana Parivena in Polonnaruwa together with a team of Chinese experts and they held a workshop there in 1988.


Takeshi Nakagawa

A Professor of Science and Engineering at Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan. He collaborated with Prof. Prematilleke to research the Vatadage at Polonnaruva (during the Alahana Parivena project) from 1983-85.

Other foreign scholars he established contact with included;

  • Professor Johannes Gijsbertus de Casparis: A Dutch orientalist and indologist. He was an Emeritus Professor of early history and archaeology of South and Southeast Asia at the Department of Languages and Cultures of South and Central Asia (Kern Institute), University of Leiden, Netherlands.
  • Professor James T. Kloppenberg: A Harvard College Professor, chair of the History Department.
  • Professor Willem Stokhof: Professor Emeritus at Leiden University, Netherlands, in the International Institute for Asian Studies. Prof. Prematilleke’s collaborations with this institute, brought him in contact with Prof. Stokhof.
  • Professor Karel Rijk van Kooij: Professor of South Asian Art and Material Culture at the Kern Institute, Leiden University
  • Dr. Evert Jongens: A significant figure in the Netherlands-Sri Lanka Foundation, which was established in 1976.
  • Professor Wilhelm G. Solheim: An American archaeologist and anthropologist, recognized as the most senior practitioner of archaeology in Southeast Asia, and as a pioneer in the study of Philippine and Southeast Asian prehistoric archaeology.

With Prof. Solheim and Dr. Roland Silva