Archaeology aims at imagining past societies, using physical data together with, if available, historical documentation. But this imaginative process is bound by factors widely discussed in social epistemology, including unequal social relations among researchers. Such unequal geopolitics in knowledge has been explored by the present author and others (Goonatilake 1982, 1984, 1999, 2001; Clough 2001). The present exercise aims to investigate and question the social and intellectual context in which Anuradhapura, the first capital in Sri Lanka, has been interpreted as belonging to a ‘theocracy’ (Coningham et al. 2007). Prehistoric archaeology has dated the site to around the ninth century BC at which time it was one of the largest cities in South Asia. A continuous set of chronicles, authenticated by physical remains, document the continuation of the city from at least the fourth/third century BC up to the eleventh century AD, when it was sacked by south Indian invaders. The written evidence includes Sinhalese chronicles (written in Pali), descriptions of the city by foreign travellers and a large number of inscriptions dating back to the third century BC.