A little history of MalivesFirst archaeological study of the remains of early cultures on the Maldives began with the work of H.C.P. Bell, a British commissioner of the Ceylon Civil Service. Bell was shipwrecked on the islands in 1879, and returned several times to investigate ancient Buddhist ruins. He studied the ancient mounds, called havitta or ustubu (these names are derived from chaitiya or stupa) Although Bell asserted that the ancient Maldivians followed Theravada Buddhism, many local Buddhist archaeological remains now in the Malé Museum display in fact Mahayana and Vajrayana iconography.
In the early 11th century the Minicoy and Thiladhunmathi also possibaly other northern Atolls was conquered by the medieval Chola Tamil emperor Raja Raja Chola I, becoming a part of the Chola empire.
According to a legend from the Maldivian Folklore, in the early 12th century AD a medieval prince named Koimala nobleman of the Lion Race from Ceylon, sailed to Rasgetheemu island (literally King's Town) in North Maalhosmadulu Atoll and from there to Malé and established a kingdom there. By then, the Aadeetta (Sun) Dynasty had for sometime ceased to rule in Malé, possibly due to invasions by the Cholas of Southern India in the Tenth Century. The indigenous people in Malé Atoll, the Giraavaru invited Koimala to Malé and permitted him to be proclaimed king. Koimala Kalou (Lord Koimala) reigned as King Maanaabarana, was a king of the Homa (Lunar) Dynasty, which some historians call House of Theemuge. Since Koimala's reign, the Maldive throne was also known as the Singaasana (Lion Throne). Before then, and in some situations since, it was also known as the Saridhaaleys (Ivory Throne). Some Historians accredit Koimala of freeing the Maldives from Tamil Chola rule.
Several foreign travellers, mainly Arabs, had written about a kingdom over the Maldives ruled by a queen. This kingdom pre-dated Koimala's reign. al-Idrisi referring to the writings of earlier writers mentions the name of one of the queens. Her name was Damahaar. She was a member of the Aadeetta (Sun) dynasty. The Homa (Lunar) dynasty sovereigns inter-married with the Aaditta (Sun) Dynasty. This was why the formal titles of Maldive kings until 1968 contained references to "kula sudha ira" which meant "descended from the Moon and the Sun". No official records exist of the Aadeetta dynasty's reign.
The conversion to Islam is mentioned in the ancient edicts written in copper plates from the end of the 12th century AD. There is also a locally well-known legend about a foreign saint (a Persian from the city of Tabriz or a Moroccan Berber according to the versions) who subdued a demon known as Rannamaari. Dhovemi Kalaminja who succeeded Koimala converted to Islam in the year AD 1153. Over the centuries, the islands have been visited and their development influenced by sailors and traders from countries on the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal.