Conference Paper

A Missing Link: Transfer of Hydraulic Civilization from Sri Lanka to Japan

Conference: Pugwash Regional Workshop


Sri Lanka has the highly developed hydraulic engineering heritage in the shape of reservoir tanks and several derivatives of water channels still being used today in order to accommodate water and soil conservation ecosystem from ancient times. In Japan at relatively drier areas corresponding reservoir tank structures were also built in ancient times and have been maintained over the centuries. One notable example of such tank, named Mannou-Ike, exists in Kagawa Prefecture near the Inland Sea of Seto, which was completed in the early 9th century in the similar design as that of Sri Lanka under the command of an eminent Buddhist monk, Ku-Kai, who once was sent as a student to China where he mainly studied Buddhism, esoteric practices, also scientific knowledge and presumably civil engineering as well. He might bring such knowledge and technology back to Japan and might apply such skills in Mannou-Ike works. What this paper argues is still one conjecture but creates sound and good imagination of important relationship in terms of technological transfers from Sri Lanka to Japan via China. This author believes that there are plenty of circumstantial evidences but yet exists solid evidence to support this conjecture. However this area of studies is very much worth trying and investigating, then establishing the proof in order to connect this missing link of civilizations.

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