EurASEAA 11

EurASEAA 11, or the 11th International Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists, will be held at the Musée des Tumulus, Bougon, Poitou-Charentes, France, bewteen 25–30 September 2006.
Interested? Contact euraseaa2006@club-internet.fr for more information.

Related Books:
Uncovering Southeast Asia’s Past: Selected Papers from the 10th International Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists by E. A. Bacus, I. Glover and V. C. Pigott (Eds)

Two books

… to add to my wishlist, and also possibly yours!

Elisabeth A. Bacus, Ian C. Glover and Vincent C. Pigott (eds) 2006. Uncovering Southeast Asia’s Past – Selected papers from the Tenth Biennial Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists, London, 14th – 17th September 2004.
Singapore: National University Press, 2006. 423 pp, 415 figs. 23 colour plates & 45 tables. ISBN 9971–69–8 (paperback). US$49 from NUS A53-01-02-3 Arts Link, Singapore 117569 or local stockists.

Glover, Ian & Peter Bellwood (eds) 2004. Southeast Asia – from Prehistory to History.
London and N.Y.: Routledge/Curzon. 354 pp. 117 figs and 14 colour plates ISBN 0-145-39117-2 (Paperback) £24.95
The paperback edition of 2006 is much more affordable than the 2004 hardback and examines the often neglected phase of transition from later prehistory to the emergence of Indic or Chinese related historic civilizations in each of the main modern nation states of Southeast Asia.

Related Books:
Uncovering Southeast Asia’s Past: Selected Papers from the 10th International Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists by E. A. Bacus, I. Glover and V. C. Pigott (Eds)
Southeast Asia: From Prehistory to History by P. S. Bellwood and I. Glover (Eds)

3,500-year-old fishing village discovered in Khanh Hoa province

What is believed to be the oldest fishing village in central Vietnam has been unearthed in the Khanh Hoa Province.

30 July 2006 (Vietnam Net Bridge) – What is believed to be the oldest fishing village in central Vietnam has been unearthed in the Khanh Hoa Province.

3,500-year-old fishing village discovered in Khanh Hoa province

The head of the excavation team, Dr. Tran Qui Thinh, said scientists have found traces of cooking stoves and unearthed 261 items, including ceramic objects and objects made from stone and animal bone, as well as tens of thousands of ceramics pieces and animal bones, approximately 120cm under the surface.


Related Books:
The Archaeology of Mainland Southeast Asia: From 10,000 B.C. to the Fall of Angkor by C. Higham

A survey of heritage charters

An outline of heritage charters and cultural resource protection agencies around the world.

31 July 2006 (The Philippine Daily Enquirer) – An outline of heritage charters and cultural resource protection agencies around the world.

A survey of heritage charters

THE INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL of Monuments and Sites (Icomos) is the international organization of heritage practitioners based in Paris. It regulates the conservation profession through charters, resolutions and declarations developed by its committees and adopted in a general assembly.

The Charter for the Protection and Management of the Underwater Cultural Heritage was prepared by the International Committee for the Management of Archaeological Heritage and approved by the 9th General Assembly of Icomos in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1996.

Ancient Shipwrecks Found in Straits of Malacca

Three shipwrecks, including what could possibly be the oldest European shipwreck in the region have been discovered along the Straits of Malacca by an Australian marine archaeologist.

30 July 2006 (The Star) – Three shipwrecks, including what could possibly be the oldest European shipwreck in the region have been discovered along the Straits of Malacca by an Australian marine archaeologist.

The Star, 30 July 2006

Ancient Shipwrecks Found

Well-known Australian maritime archaeologist Dr Michael Flecker, who has carried out more than 100 explorations in numerous countries around the region, made the latest discovery during a blanket survey along the Straits last year…

He also revealed pictures he had taken of cannons, cannon balls, bones of animals that were consumed on the ships and broken Ming dynasty porcelain.

Dr Flecker is the managing director of Maritime Explorations and has been involved in underwater explorations for the past 20 years. He said the warship was located in an area between Pulau Upeh and Pulau Panjang off the coast of Malacca.

“So far, based on our research which has been done some four nautical miles from the coast of Malacca (within Federal waters), the ship could have been a Portuguese vessel under the command of Admiral Coutinho. It sank in 1583 during a battle.


Related Books:
Shipwrecks and Sunken Treasure in Southeast Asia by T. Wells

Perak Man is Back in Town

Guest blogger LIZ PRICE from cavesofmalaysia kindly gives us her review of the Perak Man exhibition now on at the Muzium Negara in Kuala Lumpur.

Guest blogger LIZ PRICE from cavesofmalaysia kindly gives us her review of the Perak Man exhibition now on at the Muzium Negara in Kuala Lumpur.

Perak Man Exhibition at Muzium Negara. Pix by Liz Price.

Perak Man is Back in Town

Malaysia’s oldest inhabitant, Perak Man is back in KL. There is a special exhibition dedicated to him at Muzium Negara as part of the “Festival Kuala Lumpur 2006”. Perak Man is an 11,000 year old human skeleton which was found in Gua Gunung Runtuh in Lenggong, Perak in May 1990. It is the only complete late Paleolithic skeleton to have been found and is an important piece of Malaysia’s prehistory.

The month long exhibition is designed to be informative in an entertaining way and it certainly works. As you enter the building which is constructed to represent the mouth of the Gua Gunung Runtuh, you are greeted by an animated talking skeleton.

Walking around takes you through a dark passage past a series of exhibits and tableaux depicting scenes from 10,000 years ago. The first one shows Perak Man on his death bed, surrounded by friends or relatives. Research shows he died from a severe tooth infection. At first I was a bit amused to see the skeletons move, and some had flashing red eyes. It’s great for the kids though.

Perak Man Exhibition at Muzium Negara. Pix by Liz Price.

Perak Man suffered from a rare congenital deformity but living amongst a close knit community meant he had people to care for him when he could no longer hunt or look after himself. Although he was only in his 40’s when he died, that was probably a good age for that era.

Perak Man has been dated at 10-11,000 years old. However evidence of human activity in the Lenggong Valley has been revealed dating back more than 100,000 years. This area could well have been the capital of Malaysia in those days.

The next scene shows the burial rites. It is suggested that Perak Man was an important member of his tribe as his burial was performed ceremonially. He was buried in a fetal position, with legs folded up to the chest, the right hand bent up towards the shoulder and the left hand on the abdomen. The body was placed in a 1 metre deep shallow grave running east to west, and perpendicular to the cave entrance.

Perak Man Exhibition at Muzium Negara. Pix by Liz Price.

For the researchers from Universiti Sains Malaysia, led by Prof. Dato Zuraina Majid, it was a dream come true that the Paleolithic burial was done so meticulously and was so well preserved. The skeleton was almost complete, except for some missing bones such as toes, ribs and parts of the face. Offerings of food such as meat and riverine shells were with the body, as well as 10 different types of tools. The tools could have been Perak Man’s own collection. As a final touch, 2878 shells were placed on and around the body.

There is a slide show in Bahasa Malaysia giving a brief outline of the discovery and showing the types of food eaten in those days. Perak Man and his relatives lived by subsistence activities, which means they were hunter gatherers. They hunted wild animals like wild boar, deer, mousedeer, leopard, monkeys, iguanas and tortoise. To supplement the meat diet they gathered plants and riverine shells for food and medicine. They used stone tools for their daily activities. Pebble tools were used for heavy duty work such as chopping trees, splitting bones and snipping the tips off shells. Flake tools were used to cut and scrape meat, and to sharpen wood and bone to make new tools. There is a display of stone tools and models of how they were used.

Further along is a selection of push button displays, but unfortunately the buttons were not working. The next section is devoted to research. There was analysis on the faunal remains, which gives some information on the animals eaten, the hunting skills, as well as the climate and environment. The bones and teeth were also studied. Perak Man went to Japan from 7 September to 24 November 1996. A display case houses a replica of Perak Man’s skeleton, the original is housed at the Lenggong Museum.

As you turn the corner you are invited to insert a card into a slot. Nothing happened then there was a rumbling sound and suddenly a motorbike driven by 2 modern skeletons drives towards you, with a background scene of modern KL. I’ve never seen so many mechanical talking skeletons outside of a fairground!

Perak Man Exhibition at the Muzium Negara. Pix by Liz Price

The last section houses half a dozen computers on which you can answer 20 questions relating to Perak man. The computers, as well all the film clips are only in Bahasa Malaysia, so the exhibition seems to be designed more for locals than for foreigners. Finally there is a feature on a new book “Perak Man and Other Prehistoric Skeletons of Malaysia”, edited by Zuraina Majid. The book is available for sale.

This exhibition is great for anyone interested in Malaysia’s prehistory and is guaranteed to grab the attention of kids with the animated skeletons and detailed tableaux. It is due to finish on 31st July but almost certainly will be extended until at least August 16th.

pictures and text by Liz Price
The exhibition is housed in Muzium Negara annexe.
Opening hours daily 9 am – 6 pm.
Admission is free
Car park is RM2

Related Books:
Prehistory of the Indo-Malaysian Archipelago by P. Bellwood
Southeast Asia: From Prehistory to History by P. S. Bellwood and I. Glover (Eds)

Cham tower ruins pulled from bowels of construction

Remains of a Cham tower uncovered in Quang Ngai Province.

26 July 2006 (Nhan Dan) – Remains of a Cham tower uncovered in Quang Ngai Province.

Cham tower ruins pulled from bowels of construction

A Cham tower structure was found last week while local workers were leveling a road surface for the base of the new industrial complex in the central province of Quang Ngai.

The ancient structure is estimated to have several towers adjoining each other. The gates of the tower face southeast, toward the Ve River. Neither the age nor the exact year they collapsed have been established.


Related Books:
Hindu-Buddhist Art Of Vietnam: Treasures From Champa by E. Guillon
The Art of Champa by J. Hubert

Tamil-Brahmi inscription on pottery found in Thailand

Inscriptions on a 2nd-century pottery find in Thailand indicate origins in Tamil Nadu in India, indicating a new extent of Tamil influence in the ancient world.

16 July 2006 (The Hindu) – Inscriptions on a 2nd-century pottery find in Thailand indicate origins in Tamil Nadu in India, indicating a new extent of Tamil influence in the ancient world.

The Hindu, 16 July 2006

Tamil-Brahmi inscription on pottery found in Thailand

A unique Tamil-Brahmi Inscription on pottery of the second century AD has recently been excavated in Thailand.

A Thai-French team of archaeologists, led by Dr. Bérénice Bellina of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France, and Praon Silpanth, Lecturer, Silpakorn University, Thailand, has discovered a sherd of inscribed pottery during their current excavations at Phu Khao Thong in Thailand.

At the request of the archaeologists, Iravatham Mahadevan, an expert in Tamil Epigraphy, has examined the inscription. He has confirmed that the pottery inscription is in Tamil and written in Tamil-Brahmi characters of about the second century AD. Only three letters have survived on the pottery fragment. They read tu Ra o… , possibly part of the Tamil word turavon meaning `monk.’


Related Books:
Temple Art Icons and Culture of India and South East Asia by K. V. Raman
Art of India and Southeast Asia
Temple Consecration Rituals in Ancient India: Text and Archaeology (Brill’s Indological Library) by A. A. Slaczka

Climate change could have killed Angkor

A new hypothesis presented at an international conference on Angkor posits that climate change led to the relatively fast depopulation and abandonment of Angkor.

22 July 2006 (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, citing Reuters; also featured in other news media) – A new hypothesis presented at an international conference on Angkor posits that climate change led to the relatively fast depopulation and abandonment of Angkor.

ABC, 22 July 2006

Climate change could have killed ancient city

A Sydney conference has heard that climate change led to the fall of the ancient Cambodian city of Angkor.

The theory has been presented to an international gathering under the patronage of UNESCO.

Associate Professor Fletcher believes the medieval mini ice age caused climatic instability that lead to water and sediment overwhelming Angkor’s delicately balanced infrastructure.


Related Books:
Uncovering Southeast Asia’s Past: Selected Papers from the 10th International Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists by E. A. Bacus, I. Glover and V. C. Pigott (Eds)
Angkor and the Khmer Civilization (Ancient Peoples and Places) by M. D. Coe
The Civilization of Angkor by C. Higham
The Archaeology of Mainland Southeast Asia: From 10,000 B.C. to the Fall of Angkor by C. Higham

Trading treasures

A jewelry company in partnership with a marine archaeological firm takes the small, “unsexy” bits of pottery sherds and makes them into designer earrings and necklaces. The proceeds from the sale go on to fund future archaeological expeditions. I think purists will howl at the idea of “sherds-for-sale”, but on the other hand, it’s an interesting business model for keeping an independent archaeological investigation company.

22 July 2006 (The Star) – This is an interesting piece, that on the face looks like the sale of archaeological material. A jewelry company in partnership with a marine archaeological firm takes the small, “unsexy” bits of pottery sherds and makes them into designer earrings and necklaces. The proceeds from the sale go on to fund future archaeological expeditions. I think purists will howl at the idea of “sherds-for-sale”, but on the other hand, it’s an interesting business model for keeping an independent archaeological investigation company (of which I think there are pitifully few in SEA) afloat.

The Star, 22 July 2006

Trading Treasures

Justine Vaz and Ben Rongen of Tradewind Treasures are selling pendants, brooches, rings and bracelets consisting of blue and white 17th Century Ming and 19th Century Qing porcelain shards set in silver.

Tradewind Treasures works with Nanhai Marine Archaeology Sdn Bhd, a company working closely with the Malaysian Department of Museums and Antiquities to map, research and excavate shipwreck sites in Malaysian waters.

When wrecks are found, a representative set of any porcelain, pottery and other artifacts are kept by the Malaysian Department of Museums and Antiquities. Remaining items are sold to fund future investigations.

Thanks to Tradewind Treasures, the shards that might have taken a poor second place to items found intact, are now rejoicing in a new career of their own. The range designed exclusively for Eastern Treasures is housed at Aseana Galleria, KLCC.


Related Books:
Shipwrecks and Sunken Treasure in Southeast Asia by T. Wells
Oriental trade ceramics in Southeast Asia, 10th to 16th century: Selected from Australian collections, including the Art Gallery of South Australia and the Bodor Collection by J. Guy
Chinese Celadons and Other Related Wares in Southeast Asia by the Southeast Asian Ceramic Society