University of Cambridge > > Centre for Atmospheric Science seminars, Chemistry Dept. > Idioms of sustainability in ancient Anuradhapura

Idioms of sustainability in ancient Anuradhapura

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Amanda Maycock.

Located in the North Central Province region, Anuradhapura was established as the first capital of Sri Lanka in the 4th century BC and remained so for nearly 10 centuries. It is an archaeologist’s paradise and is home to many monuments of historical significance like the Jetavana vihara and the Great Brazen Monastery, arguably the world’s first sky-scraper. It also contains some of the world’s oldest, tallest and best preserved stupas – the Ruwanveli and the Jetavana stupas. It continues to be one of the most sacred cities for Buddhists all over the world and the stupas enshrine the Buddha’s bones and other relics of veneration.

Although a lot has been written about Anuradhapura from a historical view-point, this seminar is a unique take on the sacred city from a mechanical engineering perspective. We use of state-of-the-art engineering software and models to establish thermal comfort indices to ascertain the habitability of the monks roughly a 1000 year ago. Additionally, the WRF (Weather Research and Forecasting) has been used to establish the flow rates through Anuradhapura’s water channels, and the structural integrity of the great stupas after incorporating their unique form and fabric properties has been determined.

The talk will show how buildings in Anuradhapura adapted to the local microclimate. Anuradhapura receives limited rainfall, mostly during the north-east monsoon. The talk will illustrate first the replication of the seasonal precipitation patterns using NASA ’s WRF model along with the nuances of wind flow perturbations modulated by the undulating topography and the presence of the massive stupas using ENVI Met. Thereafter, 3D simulations will illustrate how the predicted received precipitation were contained, first into enormous catchment areas, and thence siphoned off into ornate bathing tanks and conduits-amply justifying Anuradhpura’s fame in the ancient world as the pioneers of hydraulic air conditioning. Atmospheric wind flow patterns in the lower boundary layer are replicated in telling details and are used to ascertain the main thermal comfort indices.

This talk is part of the Centre for Atmospheric Science seminars, Chemistry Dept. series.

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