The voices arguing against repatriation

Coming from a region that falls victim to frequent looting of archaeological sites, I personally find it hard to agree against the repatriation of artefacts that have been proven to be stolen, such as the case of the Koh Ker sculpture that still remains in the Denver Museum of Art.

Experts disagree over antiquity repatriations
Phnom Penh Post, 23 May 2015

While an unknown number of looted Cambodian artefacts – mostly taken during the turbulent 1970s and ’80s – are scattered in private collections around the world, a number have found their way into major museums’ exhibits. The recently returned Hanuman statue, for instance, was one of nine statues looted from Prasat Chen temple in the Koh Ker temple complex.

Four of the other Prasat Chen statues have been repatriated by various US museums and auction houses in recent years, three are unaccounted for, while a torso of the Hindu god Rama remains in the Denver Museum of Art.

“I would be very grateful to these private owners, if they read these lines, to give them back generously to Cambodia to reunify the nine sculptures of this unique but incomplete ensemble depicting the Mahabharata,” said Anne LeMaistre, head of UNESCO in Cambodia.

Full story here.

A regional fast response team for maritime salvage?

An archaeologist in the Singapore-based Nalanda Sriwijaya Centre has an interesting proposal in the news last week, the creation of a fast-response Maritime Arcaeology centre, based in Singapore.

Singapore can take lead in salvaging of maritime artefacts
Today, 22 May 2015

One solution is to establish a centralised South-east Asian Institute of Maritime Archaeology. Such an institute could work closely with existing regional institutions that lack funding, equipment or expertise. It could provide a well-trained fast-response team to commence archaeological excavation of shipwrecks that are discovered as a result of arresting looters or as a consequence of trawl-net hang-ups.

When not excavating, the team could conduct remote-sensing surveys in wreck-prone areas to find and excavate sites before the destruction begins. The institution could be staffed by all participating countries, but should ideally recruit locally for each project.

Artefacts should remain the property of the country in which there are found. Having been conserved, catalogued and researched, a representative collection could be made available as a travelling exhibit or go on semi-permanent loan.

Something must be done, and quickly, as the non-renewable resource of underwater cultural heritage is fast disappearing from the exploited South-east Asian seabed. Singapore is well placed geographically, economically, academically and historically to lead the way. Existing institutions or universities could facilitate the establishment of an institute.

The powerful marine sector could provide some funding. Through a recent heritage exhibition, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore demonstrated a keen interest in the history of its business. A world-class maritime archaeology institute would be a magnificent manifestation of Singapore’s seafaring roots indeed.

Full story here.

Vietnamese dugout canoe thought to be world’s oldest

Maritime archaeologists reading this post might be in a better position to comment, this dugout canoe found in Vietnam’s Duong River is thought to be the world’s largest and oldest.

Update: A reader pointed out that the Hasholme logboat in Yorkshire is older. So perhaps the Duong River boat is only Southeast Asia’s oldest?

Dugout canoe found in the Duong River. Source: Viet Nam Net 20150514

Dugout canoe found in the Duong River. Source: Viet Nam Net 20150514

The world’s largest ancient wooden boat in Halong
Viet Nam Net, 14 May 2015

A dug-out canoe of the Van Lang culture (over 2,000 years ago) is owned by the former director of the Museum of Quang Ninh Province, Tran Trong Ha. Experts say this is the oldest and biggest intact dug-out canoe in the world.

The Poole Logboat dug-out canoe in England was previously considered the world’s oldest, at more than 2,000 years old, but it is not intact.

The Poole Logboat is about 10m long but the one in Vietnam is 10.8m long, and the widest point of the boat is 1.07m.

This ancient boat was fished out from the Duong River by a fisherman, who used it as a box to contain miscellaneous items.

Ha bought this boat in 2012. “I had planned to buy the ancient boat for the Quang Ninh Museum but the museum officials did not agree to purchase it because the boat was not a product of Quang Ninh. So I took it home,” Ha said.

Full story here.

Exhibition highlights the lotus in Vietnamese culutre

A special exhibition themed on the lotus is held at the Vietnamese Museum of History in Hanoi, featuring the flower and its significance to Vietnamese culture from past to present.

Gold lotus carved box. Source: Viet Nam Net 201500513

Gold lotus carved box. Source: Viet Nam Net 201500513

Yellow lotus collection of Hue royal antiquities
Viet Nam Net, 13 May 2015

The Vietnam National Museum of History will launch a special exhibition themed “Lotus and antiquities” on May 14 in Hanoi with the aim of introducing local and international visitors to the beauty and meaning of the lotus flower in the Vietnamese culture.

The event will feature around 100 ancient objects dating back from 7th century to the Nguyen dynasty (1802-1945).

In the category “Lotus in royal arts of the Nguyen dynasty”, visitors will have a chance to view objects and delicacies used by kings and royal family members, including those made from jade, precious metals and ivory.

The museum will also present a collection from the “Lotus in the Buddhist arts, practice and ritual items” featuring objects from the 11th century.

Full story here.

Thousands of beads found in Central Vietnam

A feature on the prehistoric jewelry Quang Nam province in Vietnam.

Beads found in the Lai Nghi archaeological site  in central Vietnam. Source: Viet Nam Net 20150513

Beads found in the Lai Nghi archaeological site in central Vietnam. Source: Viet Nam Net 20150513

Thousand-year-old jewelry unearthed in central Vietnam
Viet Nam Net, 13 May 2015

Jewellery items made of stone and animal bones have been unveiled in ancient tombs thousands of years old in the central province of Quang Nam.

They are pieces of jewelry of ancient Vietnamese people of the Dong Son culture (seventh century BC to first century AD), Sa Huynh culture (tenth century BC – second century AD), and the Oc Eo culture (1st century – seventh century AD).

Glass is considered the most common ingredient in bead manufacturing techniques of the ancient people in Quang Nam. Excavations at important relics in Hoi An, Dien Ban, Duy Xuyen … have demonstrated that.

The ancient people also used agate, crystal, and nephrite to make necklaces.

These kinds of stone are very hard, so the processing techniques must be highly refined.

Scientists say the materials to make the jewelry may have been imported.

Full story here.

Job: Lecturer in Archaeology, University of New England

The University of New England is looking for a new lecturer in archaeology with experiences in teaching and archaeological science, and the capacity to develop an Australasian research programme.

UNE

Lecturer in Archaeology
University of New England, Australia – School of Humanities
Deadline 12 June 2015, details here.

Latest round of tourist misbehaviour prompts code of conduct

Succinctly summarised as “Keep your clothes on and don’t touch!”

Angkor Wat sunrise

New rules on the way for visitors to Angkor
Phnom Penh Post, 18 May 2015

Tourists’ Temple Antics Prompt ‘Code of Conduct’
Cambodia Daily, 18 May 2015

New rules planned for Angkor Wat tourists
Bangkok Post, 18 May 2015

Angkor Watt new rules to keep tourists fully clothed
World Bulletin, 18 May 2015

Cambodia promotes “code of conduct” for visitors to Angkor heritage site
Xinhua, via Shanghai Daily, 18 May 2015

After several recent incidents of tourists behaving badly at the Angkor Archaeological Park, the Apsara Authority said yesterday that it has nearly completed a code of conduct for tourists visiting the temples, a work two years in the making.

By early June, they should be ready to send a draft to experts at the International Criminal Court to review the code’s legality, Sok Sangvar, head of tourism management planning for Apsara, said yesterday. But much of it is common sense.

“Basically the code looks at where we need to indicate what not to do when visiting Angkor,” Sangvar said. “[Such as] not dressing inappropriately, and not touching things.”

Full story here.

photo by:

Another trio of tourists deported for taking pants off in Angkor

Yet again, tourists were caught last week taking photos of themselves with their pants down in the Ta Prohm temple. I really think it’s time to start meting out stiff punishments like actual jail time rather than suspended sentences and deportations.

Ta Prohm Roots (view on black)

Ta Prohm exhibitionists face expulsion
Phnom Penh Post, 11 May 2105

Bare-bottom Angkor tourists go to court
AFP, via Bangkok Post, 11 May 2015

Italian ‘took bare bottom snaps’ at Angkor temple
The Local, 11 May 2015

Three foreigners detained for taking nude photos at Cambodia’s famed Angkor heritage site
Xinhua, via Shanghai Daily, 11 May 2015

Three tourists face court over nude photos at Cambodia’s Angkor complex
ABC News, 12 May 2015

Tourists in Court for Naked Photos at Temple
Cambodia Daily, 12 May 2015

Tourists keep stripping at Cambodian temples and officials are not amused
Washington Post, 12 May 2015

Tourists keep baring their butts at Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple
Fox News, 12 May 2015

Nude shutterbugs get suspended sentences
Phnom Penh Post

Siem Reap Provincial Court yesterday suspended prison sentences for three foreign tourists convicted of taking photos of their naked buttocks at Angkor Archaeological Park and ordered they be deported.

Italian Bruno Margrini, 30, Argentinean Luciano Gaston Munoz, 30, and Dutch national Kiri Stamou, 19, were arrested on Monday afternoon after being caught taking photos with their pants down by guards at the Ta Prohm temple.

Their arrest marks the third time this year foreign travellers have been busted taking nude photos at the historic World Heritage Site.

While noting the trio’s remorse, judge Hok Pov yesterday handed Margrini and Munoz a seven-month suspended sentence and fined them $315. Stamou, meanwhile, received a six-month suspended sentence and $200 fine.

Full story here, other links in titles.

photo by:

Communication across Mainland Southeast Asia: The Living Angkor Road

Archaeologists Im Sokrithy and Surat Lertlum from Cambodia and Thailand respectively write about their long-running project on the Living Angkor Road in the latest issue of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies in Kyoto University.

Angkorian Road Network. Source: CSEAS Newsletter Spring 2015

Angkorian Road Network. Source: CSEAS Newsletter Spring 2015

The Living Angkor Road Project: Connectivity within Ancient Mainland Southeast Asia
Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University, Spring 2015

A Khmer-Thai Collaboration research project named the “Living Angkor Road Project” (LARP) has been
supported by the Thailand Research Fund (TRF) and the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA). LARP is a cross-border multi-disciplinary research aimed at firstly, identifying all the remaining portions of ancient roads radiating from the Angkor capital to different provinces of the ancient Khmer empire, in view of an overall mapping of the network known to date. Secondly, it aims to identify and describe all the infrastructures existing along these roads: bridges, all kinds of canals, temples, the remains of rest-houses and hospitals.

Download the newsletter here.

Call for Papers: Fifth International Conference on Lao Studies

A conference on Lao studies will be held next year in Thammasat University in Bangkok. It has a fairly wide range of topics of interest. but several that might be of interest to archaeologists. Call for papers is open from now until end of October.

Fifth International Conference on Lao Studies: Lao PDR in the ASEAN Context
Venue: Thammasat University, Bangkok, Thailand
Date: 8-10 July 2015

The Faculty of Liberal Arts, Thammasat University and the Center for Lao Studies (CLS) are pleased to announce that the Fifth International Conference on Lao Studies (ICLS V) will be held from July 8 to 10, 2016 on the Tha Phrachan campus in Bangkok, Thailand. The main objective of the conference is to promote Lao studies, broadly defined, by providing an international forum for scholars to present and discuss various aspects of Lao Studies.

Theme
The theme of the Fifth International Conference on Lao Studies is “Lao PDR in the ASEAN Context,” with particular (though not exclusive) emphasis on the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).

All Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states have committed to creating a region which is highly competitive, equitable in economic development and fully integrated into the global economy. The establishment of the AEC in 2015 will bring enormous opportunities as well as great challenges for the individual member countries in the region, especially for Lao PDR .

Suggested topics for the Fifth ICLS include, but are not limited to:

      The Faculty of Liberal Arts, Thammasat University and the Center for Lao Studies (CLS) are pleased to announce that the Fifth International Conference on Lao Studies (ICLS V) will be held from July 8 to 10, 2016 on the Tha Phrachan campus in Bangkok, Thailand. The main objective of the conference is to promote Lao studies, broadly defined, by providing an international forum for scholars to present and discuss various aspects of Lao Studies.

Theme

The theme of the Fifth International Conference on Lao Studies is “Lao PDR in the ASEAN Context,” with particular (though not exclusive) emphasis on the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).

All Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states have committed to creating a region which is highly competitive, equitable in economic development and fully integrated into the global economy. The establishment of the AEC in 2015 will bring enormous opportunities as well as great challenges for the individual member countries in the region, especially for Lao PDR .

Suggested topics for the Fifth ICLS include, but are not limited to:

  • Laos’ trade integration within AEC
  • Special economic zones (SEZs)
  • Export survival
  • Roles of the private and public sectors
  • Human resources and effects on local employment
  • Migration
  • Infrastructure demands
  • Balancing development growth and environmental conservation
  • Tourism
  • Traditional knowledge and cultural expressions in economic development
  • Impacts on cultures and life ways
  • Lao language, culture, and history
  • Art, literature and music
  • Buddhism
  • Border Trade and culture
  •  Isan Regionalism
  • Architecture
  •  Education
  • Environment and Health
  • Rural Development
  • Other topics