The Batadomba Lena, Sri Lanka
“Balangoda Man wasn’t at home. He hadn’t been at home for 5,000 years. But I didn’t care, I was determined to visit anyway. The last time I had tried, I had got lost somewhere down his kilometre-long garden path, but I wasn’t giving up this time.”
The Batadomba Lena (or cave) in the foothills close to Kuruwita was where the skeletons of a family of 16,000-year-old Homo sapiens balangodensis, or Balangoda Man, were first discovered in the 1930s. Continued excavation in the 1980s turned up more skeletons. An Oxford study of their teeth in 2015 deduced that modern man had begun to colonise the rainforest as far back as 45,000 years ago, where previously it was believed that he had ventured into the jungle only 8,000 years ago.
The photograph shows the largest of the Batadomba caves, with the large archeological excavation at its mouth. Shot on assignment for Serendib magazine, as part of my story, The Cave in the Jungle, which ran in the March 2016 issue.