He was 79 at the time of his demise.
In 1968 Deraniyagala discovered ancient human burials in the Fa Hien Cave.
He born in 1942, Dr. Deraniyagala completed his school education at St. Thomas’ College Mt. Lavinia.
He received his BA and MA degrees in Architecture and Sanskrit at Cambridge University and went on to do postgraduate studies in archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology in London. At the Institute he qualified with distinction and was awarded the prestigious Gordon Childe Prize, as one of two best all-round students in all fields of archaeology.
He joined the Archaeological Survey Department of Sri Lanka in 1968 as Assistant Commissioner in charge of scientific excavations.
Following this, Dr. Deraniyagala reoriented excavation and research strategies of the Department that were until then carried out on an ad hoc basis.
He introduced a research design, plans for infrastructure and human resource development in the excavation division and in 1969 undertook the epoch-breaking excavation at the Citadel of Anuradhapura. This was the first scientific stratified excavation undertaken in this Island and it set the pattern to the next generation of field archaeologists in Sri Lanka.
Dr. Deraniyagala then preceded to the USA for his doctoral research at Harvard University.
In 1992 his thesis was published as Memoir 8 of the Archaeological Department and is acclaimed as one of the primary source books on South Asian prehistoric archaeology.
In 1992, he was appointed as the Director General of the Department of Archaeology, a position he held until 2001.
Dr. Daraniyagala has disseminated his knowledge by publishing over 40 research articles in some of the most prestigious learned journals in the world.