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Visits and consultancies abroad

Prof. Prematilleke took his expertise to the world, putting Sri Lankan archaeology on the map. He was a sought-after expert and speaker and was invited to a number of countries for various professional activities.


Sopara, Bombay, India – In January 1976 he was invited there to prepare a report on this area, which was an ancient Buddhist site, port and trade centre in the kingdom of Emperor Ashoka.


Thailand and Indonesia – He was the Team Leader of a Study Tour sponsored by UNESCO. Places visited included Borobudur and Bali in Indonesia, and Sukhotai, Ayutthaya and Chiangmai in Thailand.


London, UK – He was involved in organizing the Cultural Exhibition and Seminar on the Cultural Triangle held at the Commonwealth Institute, London.


USA – He was invited to deliver a series of lectures at the University of Puget Sound, Tacoma Washington, American Institute of Archaeology, Spokane, County Museum, Los Angeles, Asia Society and Maryland University, Washington DC. During this visit he also traveled to the Baja California desert and the Mexican border city, Mexicali.

Studying indigenous art in the Baha California desert

The Mexicali Museum


London, UK – He was an Honorary Visiting Professor at the Institute of Archaeology, University of London, from April to July 1984.


Japan – Senior Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Architecture, Waseda University, Tokyo Japan, from February to March 1985. During this stay he met many Japanese scholars and students. He also visited Kyoto, Nara, Kamakura.


Maldives – He was invited to direct an investigation into an ancient human skeleton in a coral coffin, found in the island of Fua Malak, Maldives.


Leiden, Netherlands – He was a Senior Visiting Fellow at the International Institute for Asian Studies, University of Leiden for 3 months. During this time, he established many important professional contacts with their scholars, and wrote a book titled “The Sri Lankan Artifacts in the Netherlands” (published in 1997).


Maritime Silk Route Expedition – He was appointed by UNESCO as Scientific Leader, for the 3rd leg of this expedition by ship; they travelled from Colombo – Madras – Fukuoka – Phuket – Malacca – Surabaya (including Bali, Borobudur and Sukhotai) – Kuala Lumpur – Bangkok.

He participated in and chaired several international conferences, and attended seminars and receptions en route. Places they visited included:

  • Thailand: Bangkok, Sukhotai, Ayuthia, Lopburi, Lamphun, Chieng Mai.
  • Java: Borobudur, Prambanam, Ratu Boka.
  • Indonesia: Bali: visited Mother Temple, even got to climb a live volcano!


International Exhibition of Bronze Sculptures – He was a member of the Exhibition Committee which organized a major International Exhibition of Buddhist and Hindu Bronze Sculptures from the National Collections of Sri Lanka. This exhibition traveled to Paris, Zurich, Washington DC, Leiden, Brussels, and New South Wales from 1993-94. He was also co-compiler of the exhibition catalogue.


Lumbini, Nepal – He was appointed by the ICOMOS World Heritage Coordinator as  the ‘Assessor of authenticity’ for listing Lumbini (Nepal), Lord Buddha’s birthplace, as a World Heritage Site in December 1996. Following his visit and recommendations, Lumbini was recommended by the ICOMOS Bureau for inscription as a World Heritage Site. This was a major triumph for Nepal, after two earlier failed attempts made by the Nepalese government.

An excerpt of his fax to the Director General of Archaeology Nepal, once World Heritage status had been granted to Lumbini

He travelled widely to broaden his knowledge of world archaeology; below are some more examples of places he has visited.

  • India: Tamluk, Sarnath, Bodhgaya, Sanci, Ellora, Kerala, Elephanta, , Baroda, Hampi (Vijayanagara Empire), Shravanabelagola, Halebid, Hoyasalesvara, Mahabalipuram. Kanchipuram, etc.
  • China: Beijing, Guangzhou, Xian, Hong Kong
  • Egypt: Cairo.
  • Italy: Pompeii
  • UK: St. Albans, Wiltshire (Stonehenge, Woodhenge), Torquay (prehistoric cave sites, Kent’s Cavern, Brixham Cave, Viking Centre York, Hadrian’s Wall, etc.
  • Spain.
  • France: Paris, Versailles.

He has delivered invited guest lectures at the following overseas institutions

  • Puget Sound University(USA)
  • American Institute of Archaeology, Spokane (USA) 
  • Heidelberg University, Ohio (USA)
  • County Museum, Los Angeles (USA)
  • Asia Society, Washington DC (USA)
  • Maryland University, Washington DC (USA)
  • British Museum, London (UK)
  • Victoria & Albert Museum, London (UK)
  • British Academy, London (UK)
  • Department of Sanskrit, Oxford University (UK)
  • Churchill College, Cambridge (UK) 
  • Institute of South Asian Studies, Leiden (The Netherlands) 
  • Institute of Archaeology of South & South East Asia, Amsterdam (The Netherlands) 
  • Museum Association, Bombay (India)
  • Institute of Fine Arts, New Delhi (India)
  • University of Calcutta (India)
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Bangkok (Thailand) 
  • Waseda University, Tokyo (Japan)