Edinburgh University to return nine human skulls from Sri Lanka to Vedda people

Saturday, 23 November 2019 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Edinburgh University of the United Kingdom will return a set of nine human skulls to their homeland of Sri Lanka in a repatriation ceremony today.

The skulls will be presented to the Chieftain of the Vedda community Uruwarige Wanniyalaththo, after anatomy researchers at the University agreed to the Vedda’s claim as the earliest inhabitants of Sri Lanka, Edinburgh Evening News reported.

Vedda Chief will attend the presentation at the University’s Playfair Library in Vedda dress of a knee-length sarong and holding a traditional axe.

The skulls, thought to be over 200 years old, were taken from their place of origin more than a century ago. The Vedda plan to display the skulls in a collection that will showcase their history as traditional hunter-gatherers and forest-dwellers.

Chief Uruwarige said the dead are very important in Vedda society.

“Every year we hold a special ceremony to honour those who are no longer with us. Even though these remains have been in Edinburgh for many years, their spirits have remained with us in Sri Lanka.

“This reuniting of spirits and physical remains – for which I thank the University – is a very special moment for my people.”

University of Edinburgh Chair of Anatomy Professor Tom Gillingwater said: “We are delighted to welcome the Vedda tribes-people to Edinburgh and mark the return of their ancestral remains.”

“Our vast and diverse collection is often used in research breakthroughs and teaching. We are pleased to be able to return these culturally-important artefacts to help ensure the Vedda’s legacy endures for generations to come.”

The ceremony marks the end of a study by Anatomy researchers at Edinburgh University and researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Science of Human History in Germany, which confirmed the Vedda as Sri Lanka’s earliest inhabitants.