The Department of History and Archaeology of the FHSS was the first Department to offer an Undergraduate Degree in 1958 on the subjects of History and Archaeology in the University academic history of Sri Lanka. The Department now offers General and Special degrees both in History and Archaeology, and Master of Arts, Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy at the post graduate level.
The vision of the Department of History and Archaeology is to create intellectuals with a theoretical and practical knowledge in the fields of History and Archaeology, with the global standards of the modern world, who are capable of providing maximum services to the development of the country.
The mission of the Department of History and Archaeology is to contribute to the development of the nation by providing highest standards of teaching and learning in the fields History and Archaeology with most up-dated information.
The aim of the Department is to provide training for the under graduates to handle any aspects in the fields of History and Archaeology. In order to achieve this, the Department has, on the one hand, designed its curriculum motivating the undergraduates to study in the field of Ancient History as well as in Modern History, enabling the students to obtain an in-depth, meritorious vision through comparison of current problems with ancient human experiences. On the other hand, undergraduates following Archaeology are motivated to study the inception of Archaeology as a subject and also to study various aspects related to the field of Archaeology, interpretation of inscriptions, dating, conservation and management of archaeological heritage. Due to this training, the graduates who complete their degree are expected to be capable, not only of becoming theoretically trained historians and archeologists, but also of becoming practically oriented graduates who can be efficient administrators and heritage managers who are ready to take up any challenge in order to provide their maximum services to the development of the country.
The Department has close contacts with the Department of Archaeology, the national Museum Department, the National Archives Department and the Central Cultural Fund. This has created a favorable situation for the students who follow History and Archaeology for Special Degree as they get the opportunity to obtain in-site practical training in the usage of sources, archaeological excavation, conservation of artifacts and monuments through these institutions.
The subject of Archaeology has been recognized as a profession by an Act of Parliament and all staff members of the Department are registered as professionals under this act. Over the years, the Department has taken several steps to introduce the subjects of History and Archaeology to the nation at large.
Of the subject-related student associations of the Faculty of Arts, the Association of the Department of History and Archaeology can be considered the most active association. While all the students of the Department actively engage in this association, an academic journal named “Vidaranee” is annually launched by the Department. This journal consists of the academic articles written by students and the members of the staff. In addition, with a view to educate school children and the public, the Department, every year, holds seminars and exhibitions, in commemorating the Day of Archaeology. The association also represents the Dayata Kirula National Exhibition and organizes book exhibitions, book launching ceremonies and lectures for the public.