Historical Development of
Sinhala and Scripts
Victor Gunasekera, in his comment on an article entitled 'Historical
Development of Sinhala and Scripts', says that
'The earliest piece of Brahmi writing discovered does not date prior
to the era of the Buddha. By this time many languages stemming from
the Indic stream of the Indo-Iranian family were well established
in India and had many compositions of a religious and literary kind."
However, Siran Deraniyagala (The Prehistory of Sri Lanka) details
the discovery in Anuradhapura of clay sherds dated back to c. 500
BCE, on which are inscribed Prakrit words in Brahmi script characters.
There are also some sherds with characters of an unidentified script.
This suggests that the 'Vijayan' Indo-European language speakers who
settled in Anuradhapura (itself dated back to 900 BCE) may have introduced
the Brahmi script to India and not vice-versa. The Ancient Egyptians
were using cinnamon (the land of origin of which is Sri Lanka) in
c. 1500 BCE, so there must have been trading between the Middle East
and Sri Lanka quite early. Thor Heyerdahl posited that the Ancient
Egyptians reached Maldives, and we know from the Old Testament that
Solomon used Phoenician sailors to travel to Ophir and Tarshish (whence
came Peacocks and gems), c. 900 BCE. Couldn't the Egyptians or Phoenicians
have introduced writing to this island?
Incidently, the evidence is that the Dravidian languages only reached
South India after the Indo-European-speaking settlers arrived in Sri
Lanka. I do not know what the South Indians spoke before then.