Sa Huynh relics found in Thua Thien-Hue

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30 October 2006 (Viet Nam News) – Burial jars and artefacts of stone, glass and iron found at the Thua Thien-Hue province.

Viet Nam News, 30 Oct 2006

Sa Huynh relics found in Thua Thien-Hue

Thirty-one burial urns more than 2,000 years old have been unearthed at an excavation site in Thua Thien-Hue Province.

Archeologists from the Viet Nam History Museum and Thua Thien-Hue History and Revolution Museum also found more than 100 stone, glass and iron objects at the 156sq.m excavation site in the past three months.

Ancient town’s infrastructure work halted as relics found

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30 October 2006 (Thanh Nien News) – Unearthed archaeological relics interrupt work on the Hoi An World Heritage Town, but the excavations required might also destabilise the foundations of some of the heritage houses.

Thanh Nien News, 30 Oct 2006

Ancient town’s infrastructure work halted as relics found

Infrastructure upgrades to protect Hoi An resort town in Quang Nam province were halted after archeological relics were unearthed, reported local authorities

According to the Hoi An People’s Committee, a variety of separate archaeological finds were unearthed deep under the surface of the town during digging to install drainage and other waterworks to protect the World Heritage-recognized town from annual flooding.

Podcast: Archaeology beneath the Sea

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The public lecture held at the Australian National University was mentioned before in an earlier post, and the recording of the lecture by Dr. Eusebio Dizon has been uploaded on the ANU website. You can download and listen in to the half-hour lecture by Dr Dizon. A pity that one can’t see the accompanying pictures. Note: this isn’t a SEAArch podcast – although one is currently in the making!

For more than 20 years, the National Museum of the Philippines has been conducting underwater archaeology in Philippine waters with international collaborators. In this lecture, Dr Eusebio Dizon discusses the shipwrecks uncovered by the museum, includin the fifteenth century Pandanan wreck, with its cargo of Chinese ceramics, which was accidentally discovered by a pearl farm diver off the coast of Pandanan Island in the southern Philippines. Another key discovery discussed is the wreck of the San Diego, a Spanish warship that sank off the waters of Fortune Island during a battle with a Dutch ship, the Mauritius in 1600.

Dr Eusebio Dizon is Head of the Underwater Archaeology Section and Curator I in the Archaeology Division, National Museum, Manila, Philippines. He has undertaken extensive fieldwork in both land and underwater archaeological exploration and excavation in the Philippines, United States, India and Southeast Asia.

Dr Dizon is also a Director of the Archaeological Studies Program in the University of the Philippines and a Professorial Lecturer at Ateneo de Manila and Santo Tomas Universities. He was awarded his PhD by the University of Pennsylvania in 1988.

This lecture was presented by the School of Archaeology and Anthropology, ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences.

Related Books:
Lost at Sea: The Strange Route of the Lena Shoal Junk
Shipwrecks and Sunken Treasure in Southeast Asia by T. Wells

Gallery unveils the $4million Indonesian bronze statuette

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26 October 2006 (Sydney Morning Herald) – The National Gallery of Australia reveals its latest item in its collection, a 6th century bronze statuette of Indonesian origin. The article doesn’t describe the statuette’s provenance, but mentions that it was from the Javanese bronze age. This would put it around the time of the Srivijaya empire, although there is mention of an independent Bronze Age. Will have to go read that up.

Sydney Morning Herald, 26 Oct 2006

Gallery unveils the $4million woman

The diminutive sculpture depicts a woman nursing an infant while weaving on a foot-braced body tension loom.

Part of the myth surrounding the sculpture is the uncertainty about its age. It was believed to be too young to come from the Dong Son bronze-age culture that was centred on North Vietnam and ended in AD200, and it may have been from the Javanese Bronze Age, which peaked between the eighth and 14th centuries.

The gallery decided to have the clay core of the sculpture tested by thermo-luminescence.

The surprise result was that it was made between AD556 and 596.

Maxwell says archaeologists suggested there was an independent island bronze age in Indonesia about that time and there are several pieces in the National Gallery in Jakarta that are possibly from that period.

Related Books:
The Bronze Age of Southeast Asia (Cambridge World Archaeology) by C. Higham
The bronze-iron age of Indonesia (Verhandelingen van het Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land-en Volkenkunde) by H. R. van Heekeren

Sign the Petition!

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From Heritage

Appeal to have the governments of Singapore and Thailand sign the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property

Singapore has for centuries been a hub of international trade and it is this trade that has made the city great. Now one of the premier cities of Asia, Singapore remains a hub of the trade in antiquities. The same may be said for Bangkok where antiquities from all over the region are sold and shipped abroad.

It is suspected that most artefacts illegally excavated by looters around Asia are transited through Singapore and Bangkok.

The reason for this is that these cities have very liberal laws pertaining to the sale and transit of cultural heritage.

With your help HeritageWatch will petition the governments of Singapore and Thailand to adopt stricter laws and limit the sale of antiquities with a foreign provenance.

Please help us convince these governments that this is necessary if we are to preserve the great heritage of Asia.

Sign the petition here.

Mass of ancient tombs discovered in central Vietnam

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25 October 2006 (Vietnam Net Bridge)

Mass of ancient tombs discovered in central Vietnam

Archaeologists have unearthed relics of 31 ancient tombs at a single site in the central coastal province of Thua Thien – Hue after two months of hard work.

The tomb designs are typical of the Sa Huynh culture, dating back to over 2,000 years and popular from the central to southern regions, said Dr. Vu Quoc Hien, Deputy Director of the Viet Nam Historic Museum.

Coffins thought to date back to Tran Dynasty

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21 October 2006 (Viet Nam News)

Coffins thought to date back to Tran Dynasty

The coffins of a presumably powerful Tran Dynasty couple were recently excavated at the Ao Dinh archaeological site in the northern province of Ninh Binh’s Gia Vien District.

The grave contains one rectangular and one boat-shaped coffin, both of which are covered by two outer enclosures. The inner and outer coffins were carved from the fragrant ngoc am wood, which can resist insects, according to the archaeological team of Ninh Binh Museum.

Ban slapped on excavation work

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22 October 2006 (Bangkok Post) – Looting on archaeological sites for prehistoric beads for resale leads to a clampdown on excavations. Remember: if you’re in the Chatuchak market and you’re offered to buy ancient beads, DON’T BUY THEM.

Ban slapped on excavation work

Local authorities in Chumphon and Sakaew have slapped a ban on excavation work following intensified looting by villagers hunting for ancient beads at archaeological sites. In Chumphon, widespread bead searches have been reported at archaeological sites on forest and private land in Muang and Sawee districts.

Further reports came in that four districts of Prachin Buri, including Si Maha Phot, Si Mahosot, Muang and Prachantakham, were home to the prehistoric beads, mostly made of shell and pottery, making them vulnerable to illegal hunting. The items could fetch 1,000 to 3,000 baht at local markets and Bangkok’s Chatuchak market.

Podcast: Treasures of the South China Sea


It’s the first SEAArch podcast! We go on-location to the Aquaria @ KLCC, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to bring you a first-hand look at the Treasures of the South China Sea exhibition, on now until the end of this month. Please leave comments and feedback!

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It’s a hazy day in Kuala Lumpur, and we are on our way to the KLCC where the famous Petronas towers are standing. The Petronas towers are currently the tallest buildings in the world, but we’re not going up the towers today, instead we are heading underground and back in time.

The Treasures of the South China Sea exhibition at the Aquaria is a rare chance to get up close and personal with artefacts dating as far back as one thousand years. Organised by Nanhai Marine Archaeology and supported by the Malaysia Department of Museums, the exhibition showcases artefacts retrieved from ten shipwrecks found in the waters of Malaysia.

In chronological order, the ten shipwrecks are: The Tanjung Simpang, Turiang, Nanyang, Longquan, Royal Nanhai, Xuande, Singtai, Wanli, Anantes and Desaru. The wrecks are named arbitrarily, sometimes named after their present locations and at other times named after some characteristic feature. They date from the 10th century right up to the 19th century and cover the Chinese dynasties of Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing.

Most of the pieces in the exhibition are on sale and collectors interested in owning a piece of history might be interested in buying a gong, a bowl or a pair of spoons from the Desaru shipwreck. For my part – and my meagre budget – I got a miniature celadon jarlet retrieved from the Royal Nanhai wreck that dates to around 1450. I also bought a book on Malaysian Shipwrecks.

The company behind the retrieval of these artefacts, Nanhai Marine Archaeology, works very closely with the Malaysian Department of Museums. Sten Sjostrand, the principle investigator and founder of the company sees himself as a marine archaeologist rather than a treasure hunter or antique dealer. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to speak with him when I was there, but from what I hear, he’s really passionate about his work and so hopefully we can hear from him in another podcast.

The Museums Department gets its choice of artefacts and 30% of the retrieved finds, and the remaining 70% are sold by the company. The money raised is used to fund future marine expeditions. This exhibition is special, however, because it may be one of the last ever and so if you have the time, you should make the trip down because Mr Sjostrand is said to be retiring.

The Treasures of the South China Sea Exhibition is on at the Aquaria at KLCC until the end of October. For more information, you can visit Nanhai Marine Archaeology’s website at and don’t forget to visit the SEAArch website at S-E-double A-R-C-H dot wordpress dot com for a full transcript of this podcast and more news and resources on the archaeology of Southeast Asia.

Music for this podcast was by Gamelan Nyai Saraswati from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. You can send your comments, feedback and suggestions to Until next time, this is Noel signing off for the SEAArch podcast.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.

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

Excavation of another ancient tomb valuable for archaeology

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13 Oct 2006 (Vietnam Net Bridge) – Report of a Tran Dynasty excavation of a burial in the Ninh Binh province.

Excavation of another ancient tomb valuable for archeology

Ninh Binh Museum released a report on the excavation of an ancient tomb at Ao Dinh, Chinh Don Ward, Gia Minh Commune, Gia Vien District.

The excavation of the tomb where two people were buried was carried out from January 26 to February 4, 2005. The coffins have two layers and were placed parallel to each other. Both were made of special wood which is poisonous to insects.

One coffin has a boat shape and the other has a rectangular shape. These coffins were carved with the patterns of lotus flower, leaf and saw-tooth.

Objects buried with the two bodies included a wooden box, half of a pestle, seven coins and an altar.