Stolen Buriram lintel believed found in San Francisco

A lintel that was stolen from an Angkorian temple in Thailand’s Buriram province is believed to be found in a museum at San Francisco.

Lintel believed to be stolen from Buriram province. Source: Bangkok Post 20160804
Lintel believed to be stolen from Buriram province. Source: Bangkok Post 20160804

Priceless Buri Ram lintel found in San Francisco
Bangkok Post, 04 August 2016

A Buri Ram-based conservation group has kick-started a campaign to press for the return of a “lintel”, a decorative object above a gate, believed to have been smuggled out of Thailand decades ago.

Tanongsak Harnwong, leader of Samnuek 300 Ong conservation group, said the pre-Angkorean lintel, which was made of white sandstone in the Kleang-Baphuon style and featured Lord Yama, or the god of death, surrounded by flowers, was on exhibition at the Chong Moon Lee museum in San Francisco. It was believed to have been stolen from Nong Hong temple in Buri Ram’s Non Dindaeng district some 50 years ago.

He said the group obtained a photo of the lintel and compared it with one taken by the late archaeologist Manit Vallibhotama, who took the photo of the famous Vishnu reclining on the Serpent Ananta lintel at Phanom Rung sanctuary, and found the two were identical. “They look like the same item,” said the businessman-turned-conservationist who was involved in the restoration of Nong Hong temple in 2002-2003.

Full story here.

Shell midden discovered in old church grounds

Archaeologists in the Philippines make a chance discovery of a shell midden when visiting an old church. With the cooperation of the authorities they were able to document the site and suggest future directions for the construction to minimise impact to the site. The site contains human bones, which may indicate some sort of pre-Hispanic burial site.

Pre-Hispanic burial ground unearthed in CamSur town
Philippine Inquirer, 31 July 2016

A team of archaeologists and graduate students from different universities in the United States accidentally found a pre-Hispanic burial ground amid an ongoing construction work of a multipurpose building in a former cemetery here on Monday.

The team, led by archaeologist Dr. Stephen Acabado, was surveying an old church in the village of Santo Domingo in the town along the Bicol River when they stumbled on the burial ground.

“We (archaeological team) were visiting the Camaligan church when I asked my group to see first the (Bicol River). Passing by the old cemetery, I saw there’s construction going on and diggings. When I entered the construction site I immediately saw the shell midden. Wow!” Acabado said.

Full story here.

Tourist ban on touching stupas and Buddhas of Borobudur

Borobudur authorities are enforcing a ban on touching stupas and Buddhas in an effort to preserve the site from damage.

Tourists banned from touching Borobudur statues, stupa
Jakarta Post, 27 July 2016

Travelers visiting Borobudur Temple in Central Java should avoid touching and stepping on the temple’s stupa in order to preserve one of the world’s most sacred heritage sites.

Borobudur Conservation Agency public relations officer Mura told that authorities had consistently warned tourists through the loudspeaker regarding the matter.

“Touching the stupa can cause damage to the temple. Although it’s made from stone, it can be broken. The bottom part of the stupa has become soft and it lost its original shape due to being touched repeatedly by tourists,” said Mura while showing a palm print that had corroded the temple’s stone.

Borobudur was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. Built in the 8th century, it is the biggest Buddhist monument in the world.

Full story here.

Remains of a trading port in Central Vietnam

Archaeologists working in Central Vietnam’s Binh Dinh province have discovered the remains of a trading port that was in use during the 17-19th centuries.

Ceramic piece from China, c. 17-18th centuries. Source: Viet Nam Net 20160726
Ceramic piece from China, c. 17-18th centuries. Source: Viet Nam Net 20160726

Ancient Binh Dinh port unearthed
Viet Nam Net, 26 July 2016

Archaeological evidence of an old trading port have been found at a recent excavation conducted in the central Binh Dinh Province.

The research was carried out by scientists from the Vietnam Archaeology Institute and the local provincial museum.
Researcher Bui Van Hieu from the institute, who led the excavation, said though the area excavated this time was not large, scientists found thousands of evidence and objects valuable to studying the whole site.

Full story here.

Hong Kong news stronger heritage protection laws

Chinese University of Hong Kong law professor Steven Gallagher discusses the weaknesses in Hong Kong’s current heritage laws.

Current Hong Kong laws fail the test of heritage protection
South China Morning Post, 25 July 2016

Many news stories have focused on disputes and issues involving Hong Kong’s “cultural heritage”.

Recently an underwater archaeology group discovered an ancient stone anchor and bronze cannons in the waters off Hong Kong and called for more government support for archaeological investigation. The demolition of Ho Tung Gardens and the delays caused to the Sha Tin to Central rail project by the discovery of the archaeological remains of a well at the former Sacred Hill in To Kwa Wan are still fresh memories.

High rents and greedy landlords have been accused of forcing out artisan workers and favourite food restaurants, representing loss of intangible cultural heritage. The issue of Queen’s Pier is also ongoing.

The body tasked with protecting heritage for us all, the Antiquities Advisory Board, has been criticised for being ineffective, weak and secretive, and the discovery of the remains of HMS Tamar is being ignored as much as possible.

Full story here.

Anchor and cannon found off Hong Kong

Divers in Hong Kong discovered a large anchor stock and a cannon, the former dating to the Song Dynasty.

Hong Kong’s sunken treasure: ancient anchor and cannon reveal our rich maritime history
South China Morning Post, 19 July 2016

Two monumental artefacts were recovered over the weekend by a local diving group, marking a maritime heritage milestone for Hong Kong.

A diving team from the Hong Kong Underwater Heritage Group recovered an anchor stock – the upper part of an anchor – around Basalt Island, and a cannon off the coast of High Island. The anchor stock is believed to date back to the Song Dynasty, making it over 1,000 years old – Hong Kong’s oldest marine artefact.

“It’s important for Hong Kong’s [maritime] history because it’s evidence to show that Hong Kong is a location worth investigating,” Dr Libby Chan Lai-pik, senior curator at the Hong Kong Maritime Museum said. The museum is a sponsor of the Underwater Heritage Group.

“The anchor is proof that Hong Kong was perhaps quite advanced during the Song Dynasty in terms of water transport and commercial trade.”

Full story here.

The Koh Sdech Shipwreck and maritime trade in the 15th century

A feature on the finds from the Koh Sdech shipwreck, discovered off the coast of Cambodia and the tale of how the finds were looted and seized, as well as the connection between the ceramics found in the shipwreck with similar pieces from the Cardamom Mountains.

Finds fro the Koh Sdech shipwreck. Source: Cambodia Daily 20160723
Finds fro the Koh Sdech shipwreck. Source: Cambodia Daily 20160723

Shipwreck Highlights Sprawling Sea Trade
Cambodia Daily, 22 July 2016

Sometime in the 15th century, a ship caught fire off the coast of Koh Kong province and sank about 20 meters to the ocean floor.

Over 500 years later, a group of Vietnamese fishermen cast their nets about 20 km off the coast of Koh Sdech island and hauled in an unlikely catch.

They might have snagged one of thousands of pieces of Thai ceramics that sat alongside Chinese por­celain, ivory and untold other ar­tifacts, evidence of a bustling maritime trade that stretched across Southeast Asia and beyond.

Surfacing and cataloging the artifacts began in 2006 and involved money from a casino magnate, underwater dives by an alleged Russian fraudster, and expertise from Cambodian and American archaeologists.

Full story here.

Cultural Heritage Education in the Philippines

A profile of Philippine archaeologist Mylene Lising and her work in cultural heritage education.

Mylene Lising. Source: CNN Life 20160715
Mylene Lising. Source: CNN Life 20160715

A Filipino archaeologist’s mission to make prehistory relevant today
CNN Life, 15 July 2016

Growing up in Tuguegarao, Cagayan, she lived 40 minutes east of modern-day Kalinga, where stegodon fossils were found, and 40 minutes west of Callao Cave in Peñablanca, where the oldest human fossil in the Philippines was excavated. “That kind of stuck to the back of my mind,” she says about her childhood.

But it was only when her fine arts professor asked her to do a research paper on prehistoric art in the Philippines that she first did any in-depth learning on archaeology. From then on, she never looked back.

While studying to get where she is today, Lising found herself asking questions that could change the course of her career: “Why am I going into this field? Is it only for my amusement? Parang, that’s so vague.” She said that her work in archaeology had to serve a bigger purpose. It had to add value to people’s lives. That’s how she decided to focus on cultural heritage management.

Full story here.

Angkor’s road network resemble modern cities

The results of the latest Lidar campaign over Angkor and the other centres such and Sambor Pre Kuk and Banteay Chhmar promises many new research avenues.

What lies beneath
DPA, via The Nation, 11 July 2016

How archaeologists found the lost medieval megacity of Angkor
Ars Technica, 21 July 2016

Be prepared to sweat. Exploring the world’s largest religious complex in the Cambodian jungle is not for those who can’t take the heat. The sheer size of the gigantic edifices of Angkor Wat and the distances between them means long treks, in 40-degree heat and humidity as if in a sauna.

But then, what you get to see is stunningly unique. There are the monument-sized sandstone buildings, delicate carved bas-reliefs, and the strangler figs, huge snake-like plants creeping up the walls and buildings as if to swallow them up. Like in some enchanted forest.

It is almost impossible to believe that more than 800 years ago, in the heyday of the Khmer culture, hundreds of thousands of people lived in this merciless jungle setting.

But what archaeologist Damian Evans has now uncovered with the help of an airborne laser measurement technology called Lidar (light detection and ranging) explodes everything that was known heretofore.

Full stories here and here.

Stone workshop suggests hominids in Central Vietnam 800,000 years ago

Stone tools estimated to be around 700,000-800,000 years old in Central Vietnam suggest the presence of hominids during the Paleolithic.

Stone tools from Gia Lai. Source: Viet Nam Net 20160707
Stone tools from Gia Lai. Source: Viet Nam Net 20160707

Discovery about ancient workshop stirs archeological community
Vietnam Net, 07 July 2016

The team of archaeologists from the Novosibirsk Institute of Archaeology & Ethnology belonging to the Russian Federal Science Academy and the Institute of Archaeology and Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences made the discovery about the existence of a production workshop of Vietnamese primitive men.

Dr Nguyen Gia Doi, Deputy Director of the Institute of Archaeology, said the exact name of the relic site is an early paleolithic relic with fossil tektite samples believed to be aged 770,000-800,000 years and stone artifacts such as hand axes.

This means that the upper course of the Ba River in An Khe was the place for people 700,000 years ago. This s the oldest appearance of humans and civilization ever recorded in Vietnamese territory.

Full story here.