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Professor Chulani Rambukwella

Chair Professor of Archaeology | Department of Archaeology, University of Peradeniya

Prof. P. L. Prematilleke is a great person in the truest sense of the word as a teacher, scholar, researcher, and a great human being. So, it is a great privilege to have the opportunity to express my gratitude to Prof. P. L. Prematilleke my beloved teacher and former Professor of Archeology at the Department of Archeology, University of Peradeniya. I am grateful to his loving daughter, Isha Prematilleke, a consultant doctor for giving me the opportunity. 

After Dr. Senarat Paranavitana’s retirement from the Archaeological Survey of Ceylon as an Archaeology Commissioner, the University of Peradeniya appointed him as the Research Chair Professor of Archaeology in 1957. However, the Department of Archaeology was established as a sub-department of History at the University of Peradeniya after Mr. P. L. Prematilleke was appointed in 1961. Since then, Prof.  Prematilleke served the Department of Archaeology, University of Peradeniya as an Assistant Lecturer, Lecturer, Professor and ultimately as the Research Chair Professor until he retired in 1989. Prof. Prematilleke started a special degree programme in Archaeology in 1976 for undergraduates and postgraduates and the department has functioned as a separate full-fledged department since then.

Prof. Prematilleke was a remarkable conservation and rescue Archaeologist and the magnificent shifting and restoration of the Nalanda Gedige was completed by him in 1985. I also had the opportunity to work with him on the Alahana Pirivena excavation project, another massive work completed by him as the Director of the Central Cultural Fund (CCF). During his office in the CCF, he has done many explorations and excavations in the Polonnaruwa area and unearthed a lot of antiquities and established Polonnaruwa Museum and Information Centre on 20th October 1998. In the same year, he named the museum at the Department of Archaeology at the University of Peradeniya as the “Senarat Paranavitana Teaching and Research Museum”, and in 2004 he published a comprehensive catalogue of objects in the Senarat Paranavitana Teaching and Research Museum. The most recent refurbishment of the National Museum Colombo was also done under his direction and guidance.

I had the privilege of working with him as an honours degree undergraduate since I came to the Department of Archaeology in 1982 and continued a very good rapport with him throughout.  During this time, I realized that he is one of the few eminent scholars in the field of Archaeology in the country and I had the opportunity to discuss academic programmes even two weeks before his demise in 2019. Being one of his best students, I was able to give him my last respect as the first lady Chair Professor of Archaeology in Sri Lanka and the Head of the Department of Archaeology at that time.  He helped many young academics to develop their careers until his demise. Being one of them I again respect my beloved teacher, eminent Archaeologist Prof. P. L. Prematilleke appreciating his grandiosity.

Professor Chulani Rambukwella, PhD | Chair Professor of Archaeology
Department of Archaeology, University of Peradeniya