Harry Charles Purvis Bell

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HCP Bell, ~1890.

Harry Charles Purvis Bell (1851 – 1937), more often known as HCP Bell, was a British civil servant and a commissioner in the Ceylon Civil Service. He was born in British India.


Appointed an official archaeologist,[1] he carried out many excavations in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), for the Archaeological Survey, during an appointment running from 1890 to 1912.[2]

After retirement, he also investigated the archaeology and epigraphy of the Maldives, where he had been earlier in his life.[3] and studied the linguistics of Divehi. Bell had developed a good friendship with the king of the Maldives, who put his own royal schooner Fath-ul-Majid at his disposition to carry out archaeological research in certain atolls south of Male.[4]


  • The Máldive Islands: An account of the Physical Features, History, Inhabitants, Productions and Trade. Colombo 1883
  • The Maldive Islands. Report on a Visit to Málé, Colombo, 1921.
  • The Maldive Islands. Monograph on the History, Archaeology, and Epigraphy, Colombo, 1928.
  • The Máldive Islands. Monograph on the History, Archæology, and Epigraphy with W. L. De Silva, Colombo 1940.
  • Excerpta Maldiviana, Colombo 1940.

See also[edit]


  • Bethia N. Bell and Heather M. Bell (1993), H. C. P. Bell: Archaeologist of Ceylon and the Maldives


  1. ^ Department of Archaeology - History
  2. ^ Robin W. Winks, Alaine M. Low, The Oxford History of the British Empire (1999), p. 244.
  3. ^ [1], [2]
  4. ^ Xavier Romero-Frias, The Maldive Islanders, A Study of the Popular Culture of an Ancient Ocean Kingdom. Barcelona 1999, ISBN 84-7254-801-5