Exploring Brunei's past

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28 November 2006 (Borneo Bulletin) – An account about a school visit to a archaeological site in Brunei, which is already quite illuminating because archaeological reports from this part of the world is rare.

Borneo Bulletin, 28 Nov 2006
Exploring Brunei’s past

Awang Hj Osman Salleh, a senior research officer from the Archaeology Section, welcomed the visitors and later gave them a brief introduction of the site.

He said the unearthing of artifacts comprising mostly porcelain dating back to the 10th to 13th centuries, which coincided with the Sung and Yuan Dynasties of China, marked a new era in the study of Brunei’s history.

The landmark excavation works commenced on October 21, 2002, unearthing close to 50,000 artifacts. The findings were made by a local company when it carried out an expansion and deepening project at the Limau Manis River.

They came across numerous shards of yellow unglazed earthenware, stoneware decorated in black under a clear glaze, stoneware with a celadon glaze as well as the blue-and-white porcelain.

They also found wooden items such as tops and weights used for fishing nets, beads and bangles used as ornaments as well as a form of trading currency.

Limau Manis was once inhabited by a large settlement that used the river as a means of transportation, for activities such as fishing and washing, as well as for obtaining food, medicine and building materials. Barter trade also existed between the communities living along the river.

Private museum displays antique collection in Thanh Hoa Province

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21 November 2006 (Vietnam News) – A private museum opens in Vietnam featuring antiquities.

Private museum displays antique collection in Thanh Hoa Province

Hoang Long Antique Museum, the first private museum in the central province of Thanh Hoa, officially opened its doors to the public at an inaugural ceremony on Sunday.

A 350sq.m area has been devoted to displaying nearly 1,000 antiques, reflecting the social changes that have shaped life in Thanh Hoa Province since early times.

The museum currently owns more than 5,600 articles, relics and some valuable collectibles, such as bronze drums, Dong Son ceramics, ceramics from the Ly and Tran dynasties, ancient jewelry and even cannons.

Related Books:
Art & Archaeology of Fu Nan by J. C. Khoo
Vietnamese Ceramics: A Separate Tradition by J. Stevensen, J. Guy and L. A. Cort

Ice Age carabao found in Cebu

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20 November 2006 (The News Today) – The remains of a 100,000 year old carabao (buffalo) has been identified as a new dwarf species. The dwarf carabao may be indicative of a biological phenomenon known as “island dwarfism”, where animals living in areas with limited resources (eg. islands) adapt to be smaller.

The News Today, 20 Nov 2006

Ice Age carabao found in Cebu

Unknown to science until now, a new species of carabao has been discovered — 100,000 years late.

During the Ice Age, Bubalus cebuensis stood 2.5 feet and weighed about 160 kilograms. It was a mini copy of today’s adult water buffaloes that stand 6 feet and weigh up to a ton.

The dwarf buffalo is to a typical carabao as a pony is to a horse. And it is about a fourth smaller than its living relative, the hundred or so tamaraws that remain in Mindoro Island and nowhere else.

Java sunken treasure to be sold

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19 November 2006 (BBC)

BBC, 19 Nov 2006

Java sunken treasure to be sold

Scientists in Indonesia are preparing to auction tens of thousands of artefacts salvaged from a sunken ship off the coast of Java.

The items, which are believed to be more than 1,000 years old, include ceramics, tombstones and swords.

Salvaged after 1,000 years at the bottom of the sea, the haul includes bowls from China, Thailand and Vietnam; perfume bottles from Persia; and swords and tablets engraved with Koranic inscriptions.

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

Capital city excavates millenary-old altar

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19 November 2006 (Thanh Nien News)

Thanh Nien News, 19 Nov 2006

Capital city excavates millenary-old altar

Archaeologists in Hanoi affirmed Thursday that the ancient structure found some weeks ago by a roadwork unit was the Xa Tac (State) altar that Ly Dynasty had built some 1,000 years ago.

They have since Oct. 30 studied three excavated areas around a 100 meter square site under the Kim Lien-O Cho Dua road in Dong Da District, discovering a brick foundation, yard, walls, glasses, and porcelains of three successive dynasties – Ly (1009-1225), Tran (1225-1400), Le (1428-1527).

Podcast 02: Lenggong Archaeological Museum and the Perak Man


IT’S FINALLY UP!!! Okay, not really… It’s been ready since a week ago, but I’ve been having technical difficulties which haven’t fully been resolved yet. But I’ve decided enough is enough, and to upload the podcast anyway. You can hear it at the podcast page.

19/11 Update: After tweaking every possibe setting, I finally found out what was going wrong with the MP3 encoding. You can now hear the podcast from the media player on the website!

02: Lenggong Archaeological Museum and Perak Man

The SEAArch podcast goes to Lenggong in Perak, Malaysia to check out the Lenggong Archaeological Museum and to also talk about the Perak Man, the oldest complete prehistoric skeleton found in this area.

Binh Dinh's Cham towers proposed for world cultural heritage

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17 November 2006 (Vietnam Net Bridge) – The distinctive Duong Long Towers, where ongoing excavations are underway, are being proposed for addition into the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.

Vietnam Net Bridge, 17 Nov 2006

Binh Dinh’s Cham towers proposed for world cultural heritage

The Cham towers are unique religious architecture of Cham people. Binh Dinh has eight groups of Cham towers. Those towers are treasuries of history, culture and architecture for researchers to learn about the Vijaya areas in the ancient time and Binh Dinh at present.

Among Cham towers built in the central region, the architecture style of Cham towers in Binh Dinh is always praised by researchers. In 1942, Ph. Stern ranked the architectural style of Cham towers in Binh Dinh at the sixth level in seven styles and one of the most popular styles from the 12th to the 14th centuries.

The pre-colonial Bisayan practice of skull moulding

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17 November 2006 (The News Today) – Henry F. Funtecha writes another article about the early Bisayans and talks about their skull moulding practices and how they appear in the archaeological record.

The pre-colonial Bisayan practice of skull moulding Before the Spanish colonization of the Philippines, the Bisayans practiced skull moulding as a way of enhancing one’s beauty. As mothers and midwives are well aware, the skulls of newborn infants are so soft if they are continuously laid on the same side, their head become flat on that side. Many societies have taken advantage of this reality in order to provide their children a skull shape which conforms to the local tenets of beauty. … How do present scholars know that the early Bisayans practiced skull moulding? Archaeological diggings in burial sites in Cebu, Samar, Bohol and other places in the Philippines had turned out dozens of skulls that clearly show the physical effects of moulding or binding. This writer himself had seen at the Aga Khan Museum at the Mindanao State University in Marawi City in 1992 two complete skeletons that were discovered in Butuan grave site showing reshaped skulls with black teeth filed to points.

Selections, November 2006

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A selection of archaeology-related books, new to the catalogue of Select Books, a specialised publisher and retailer of books pertaining to Southeast Asia. For ordering info, please visit the Select Books website.

Chinese Potter, The: A Practical History Of Chinese Ceramics (Reprinted 2006). Medley, Margaret. Gb. 1989. 288pp. pb $55.65 (China has the longest and most highly developed ceramic tradition in the world, encompassing early Neolithic earthenwares, the finely glazed stoneware pieces of the Song period – widely regarded as among the greatest ceramics ever produced – and the years of Imperial patronage and export ware for the new markets of the West. Margaret Medley’s groundbreaking study was the first to bring a practical approach to the study of Chinese pottery. She makes full use of archaeological reports to show how differing geographical areas, materials and developing technology all shaped the evolution of Chinese ceramics. Her revolutionary insights, along with an astute critical judgement in the field of art history itself, combine to form a classic but approachable account which has profoundly influenced the way in which Chinese pottery is studied. First published in 1976, this is the fourth and latest reprint of the revised third edition that was issued in 1989.)

Message & The Monsoon, The: Islamic Art Of Southeast Asia. De Guise, Lucien (ed.) My. 2005. 237pp. hc $65.10 (It was Marco Polo who said, “It takes ships from China a whole year for the voyage to Southeast Asia, going in winter and returning in the summer. For in that sea there are but two winds that blow, the one that carries them outward and the other that brings them homeward; and the one of these winds blows all winter, and the other all the summer.” The monsoon winds were of vital importance to Southeast Asia in the age of sail. These winds brought with them more than just traders from China, India and Arabia. They also introduced Islam into the region. Southeast Asia became part of the most important mercantile network the world had ever seen until the 20th century. As a result, there is an astonishing accumulation of wealth and art to be found here, from Aceh in the west of the Malay Archipelago to Mindanao in the east. This catalogue is published in conjunction with the July 2005 exhibition of the same name at the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia. It features a comprehensive selection of Islamic artefacts that embodies the Muslim contribution to Southeast Asia. More than 150 artefacts dating from the 15th to 20th century, including manuscripts, textiles, arms, woodwork, metalwork and coinage, offer an opportunity to examine the evolution of a unique culture, one that fuses Islamic principles with indigenous customs. With notes, bibliography and glossary.)

Restoration Of Borobudur, The. Unesco. Fr. 2005. 288pp. hc $115.00 (Although the construction of Java’s Borobudur temples took many centuries, parts probably date from about 800CE. Both Buddhist and Hindu traditions are incorporated in the extensive terraced buildings. In the mid-20th century following great alarm about decay at the site, a UNESCO restoration project was initiated with support from 27 nations. This volume traces the temple’s history and the course and methods of the UNESCO reconstruction and Borobudur’s 1991 recognition as a World Heritage Site. Sketches, photographs, diagrams and much technical data shed light on the immensity of the work done in one of the most important restoration efforts of the last century. With bibliography, glossary and index.)