Institute of Archaeology


Gamini Wijesuriya - Honorary Senior Lecturer

Gamini Wijesuriya
  • Honorary Senior Lecturer
  • BSc, MA, MSc
  • UCL Institute of Archaeology, 31-34 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY UK

Dr Gamini Wijesuriya is a Sri Lankan architect and archaeologist with the focus on conservation and management of heritage who has gained a reputation as a lead specialist in World Heritage with over 35 years of experience. In 1982, at the age of 28, he was appointed as Head of the Conservation for the Sri Lankan heritage authorities, a position he held for 18 years. In this role he was responsible for the conservation and management of historic buildings, archaeological sites, urban centres and six World Heritage Sites across the country. He was a visiting fellow at UCL in 2000 and in 2001 he went on to serve the Department of Conservation (New Zealand) where, as a Principal Regional Scientist, he provided scientific advice to conservation management teams.

In 2004 he became the first Asian staff member of the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), an intergovernmental organisation created in 1956 with the mandate to promote heritage conservation worldwide. Until 2017, he played a pivotal role at ICCROM in developing and implementing a wide variety of new research, training and capacity-building activities covering many themes related to conservation and management of heritage. These include his significant work on the 'living' cultural heritage of Asia that has influenced international heritage practice. His emphasis on people-centred approaches to the conservation of both nature and culture that secure benefits for the society has gained standing worldwide. His work has challenged many aspects of the conventional approaches to conservation. He is currently working with Dean Sully on Living Heritage.

Research Interests



  • Wijesuriya, G. and S. Lee (2017) Asian Buddhist Heritage: Conserving the Sacred, Rome: ICCROM.
  • Wijesuriya, G., J. Thompson, and C. Young (2013) UNESCO, ICOMOS, ICCROM Resource Manual on Managing Cultural World Heritage, Paris: UNESCO.
  • Wijesuriya, G. (1998) Buddhist Meditation Monasteries of Ancient Sri Lanka, Department of Archaeology: Colombo: Govt. of Sri Lanka
  • Wijesuriya, G. (1993) Restoration of Buddhist Monuments in Sri Lanka: The Case for an Archaeological Heritage Management Strategy, Colombo: ICOMOS Sri Lanka

Book chapters

  • Thompson, J, G. Wijesuriya (2018) From 'sustaining heritage' to 'heritage sustaining broader societal wellbeing and benefits': An ICCROM perspective, in P.B. Larsen and W. Logan (ed), World Heritage and Sustainable Development: New Directions in World Heritage Management. London: Routledge, pp.180-195.
  • Wijesuriya, G. (2015). Living Heritage, in A. Heritage and J. Copithorne (eds), Sharing Conservation Decisions, ICCROM, Rome.
  • Wijesuriya, G., J. Thompson and S Court (2017) People-centred approaches: engaging communities and developing capacities for managing heritage, in G. Chitty (ed), Heritage, Conservation and Communities: Engagement, participation and capacity building. London: Routledge, pp. 34-50.
  • Wijesuriya, G. (2016) Reconstruction: A Theme in Need of Review, in Z. Aslan, E. Assi, C. Biggi, R. Salah, and Y. Hashem (eds), Urban Conservation and Reconstruction in the Arabian Gulf. Dubai: Dubai Municipality, pp. 29-36.
  • Logan, W and G. Wijesuriya (2015) New Heritage Studies and Education, Training, and Capacity‐Building, in William Logan, Máiréad Nic Craith, and Ullrich Kockel (eds), A Companion to Heritage Studies. USA: Wiley- Blackwell, pp. 557-573.
  • Ndoro, W. and G. Wijesuriya (2015) Heritage Management and Conservation: From Colonization to Globalization, in Lynn Meskel (ed), Global Heritage: A Reader. USA: Wiley- Blackwell, pp. 131-149.
  • Wijesuriya, G. (2015) Introducing People-centred Approach to Conservation and Management of Hani Rice Terraces, in ICOMOS China (ed), Proceedings of International Workshop on the Sustainable Development of Honghe Hani Rice Terraces. Beijing: ICOMOS China, pp. 23-35.
  • Wijesuriya, G. and S. De Caro (2012) Engaging communities: approaches to capacity building, in UNESCO World Heritage Centre (ed), Involving Communities in World Heritage Conservation- Concepts and Actions in Asia. Seoul: ICOMOS-KOREA, pp. 48-55.
  • Wijesuriya, G. (2010) Conservation in Context, in M.S. Falser, W. Lipp, and A. Tomaszewski (eds) Proceedings of the International Conference on 'Conservation and Preservation- Interaction between Theory and Practice, In memoriam Alois Riegl (1858-1905). Florence: Edizioni Polistampa, pp. 233-248.
  • Wijesuriya, G. (2008) Values of the Heritage in the Religious and Cultural Traditions of Southern Asia, in A. Tomaszewski (ed), Values and Criteria in Heritage Conservation- Proceedings of the International Conference of the ICS on Theory and Philosophy. Florence: Edizioni Polistampa, pp. 71-76.
  • Wijesuriya, G. (2007) The Restoration of the Temple of the Tooth Relic in Sri Lanka: a Postconflict Cultural Response to Loss of Identity, in N. Stanley-Price and R. Killick (eds), Cultural Heritage in Post-war Recovery, ICCROM Conservation Studies 7, Rome: ICCROM, pp. 87-97.
  • Wijesuriya, G. (2007) Conserving Living Taonga: The Concept of Continuity, in D. Sully (ed) Decolonising Conservation-Caring for Maori Meeting Houses Outside New Zealand. Left Coast Press: Walnut Creek, pp. 59-69.
  • Wijesuriya, G. (2007) Conservation Awareness in Archaeological Training, in P. Ucko, L. Qin and J. Hubert (eds) From Concepts of the Past to Practical Strategies: The Teaching of Archaeological Field Techniques. Saffron: London, pp.245-254.
  • Wijesuriya, G. (2007) Complimentary and Contradictory Aspects of International Doctrines and their Impact at National Level, in R. Varoli-Piazza (ed), Sharing Conservation Decisions- Lessons Learnt from an ICCROM Course. Rome: ICCROM, pp.59-63.
  • Wijesuriya, G. (2005) Past is in the present: Perspectives in Caring for Buddhist Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka, in H. Stovel, N. Stanley-Price and R. Killick (eds), Conservation of Living Religious Heritage. Rome: ICCROM, pp. 31-43.
  • Wijesuriya, G. (2003) Are We Reinventing the Wheel? Archaeological Heritage Management under the British Colonial Rule in Sri Lanka, in S. Lawrence (ed), Archaeologies of the British. London: Routledge, pp. 274-290.
  • Wijesuriya, G. (2001) Pious Vandals-Restoration vs. Destruction, in R. Layton, P.G. Stone and J. Thomas (eds), Destruction and Conservation of Cultural Property. London: Routledge, pp. 256-263.
  • Wijesuriya, G. (2001) Protection of Sacred Mountains-Towards a New Paradigm in Conservation, in Final Report of UNESCO Thematic Expert Meeting on Asia-Pacific Sacred Mountains. Japan, pp. 47-62

Journal articles

  • Larsen, P. and G. Wijesuriya (2015) Nature-culture interlinkages in World Heritage: Bridging the gap. World Heritage Review 75: 4-15.
  • Wijesuriya, G. (2007) Guest Editorial. Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites 8(3): 121-122.
  • Wijesuriya, G., K. Nishi and J. King. (2006). Living Heritage Sites workshop: Empowering the Community, ICCROM Newsletter 32: 18.
  • Wijesuriya, G. (2003) Restoring Destroyed Historic Sites. Seminar, 530: 23-28.
  • Wijesuriya, G. (2000) Conserving the Temple of the Tooth relic, Sri Lanka. Public Archaeology 1(2):99-109.