For well over a thousand years the history of Sri Lanka, was essentially the history of Anuradhapura. Situated almost at the center of the island’s northern plains, the city rose to prominence very early in the development of the island, and maintained its pre-eminent position for over a millennium until being laid waste y Indian invaders in 993. At its height Anuradhapura was one of the greatest cities of its age, functioning as the island’s center of both temporal and spiritual power, dotted woth dozens of monasteries populated by as many as ten thousand monks – one of the greatest monastic cities the world has ever seen. The kings of Anuradhapura oversaw the golden age of Singhalese culture, and the temples of the enormous dagobas they erected were amongst the greatest architectural feats of their time, surpassed only in the scale by the great pyramids of Giza. Anuradhapura also lay at the heart of the great Sinhalese hydraulic achievements, with vast reservoirs (tanks) constructed around the city to store water through the long dry seasons and irrigate the surrounding paddy fields. The city’s fame spread to Greece and Rome, and judging by the number of roman coins found here, appears to have enjoyed a lively trade with the latter.