Today's famous birthday lived in Ceylon, which is now called Sri Lanka, and he became a leading scholar on his people's language, Tamil.
Tamil is spoken, not just in Sri Lanka, but also by some people in India and other Southeast Asian nations.
|Sri Lanka is a tear-drop-shaped island southeast of India.|
Kanapathipillai was a university professor of Tamil at a time when there was no epigraphist (a scientist who is trained to study ancient writing systems and interpret ancient inscriptions) working on ancient Tamil inscriptions. Kanapathipillai rolled up his sleeves, learned all he could about epigraphy, and dove into the task of deciphering and publishing the ancient writings.
Because of Kanapathipillai's work, other scholars became interested in ancient Tamil, and his students were inspired to carry on after the professor retired.
|Humans have lived in Sri Lanka for tens|
of thousands of years, and the first
civilizations rose there many thousands
of years ago...
To learn more about ancient Sri Lanka, check out this video – the first in a three-part documentary. Or check out this webpage.
The British Museum's website has an offering about Ancient India.
If you become an epigraphist, you might be the one to decipher one of these ancient languages – codes that, so far, have never been cracked!
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