Podcast 03: Heritage Watch

The SEAArch Podcast talks to Dr Dougald O’Reilly, the director of Heritage Watch, an NGO in Cambodia that seeks to preserve the cultural heritage of Cambodia. Dr O’Reilly talks about the work of Heritage Watch, the extent of looting of artefacts in Cambodia, and how you can help.

Merry Christmas one and all! The SEAArch Podcast talks to Dr Dougald O’Reilly, the director of Heritage Watch, an NGO in Cambodia that seeks to preserve the cultural heritage of Cambodia. Dr O’Reilly talks about the work of Heritage Watch, the extent of looting of artefacts in Cambodia, and how you can help.

Hear (or download) the podcast on the SEAArch Podcast page.

Timor cave may reveal how humans reached Australia

22 December 2006 (The Age, Sydney Morning Herald) – It’s rare to hear about archaeological information from East Timor (Timor Leste). This one reports of the Jerimalai site, which was inhabited as far back as 42,000 years ago.

The Age, 22 Dec 2006

Timor cave may reveal how humans reached Australia

AN AUSTRALIAN archaeologist has discovered the oldest evidence of occupation by modern humans on the islands that were the stepping stones from South-East Asia to Australia.

A cave site in East Timor where people lived more than 42,000 years ago, eating turtles, tuna and giant rats, was unearthed by Sue O’Connor, head of archaeology and natural history at the Australian National University.

Dr O’Connor also found ancient stone tools and shells used for decoration in the limestone shelter, known as Jerimalai, on the eastern tip of the island.

She said her discovery could help solve the mystery of the route ancient seafarers took to get here from South-East Asia.

It strengthens the view that they made a southern passage, via Timor, rather than travelling northwards via Borneo and Sulawesi, then down through Papua New Guinea. “The antiquity of the Jerimalai shelter makes this site significant at a world level,” said Dr O’Connor, who presented the findings at the annual conference of the Australian Archaeological Association this month.


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)

Kota artifact part of old railway structure: Expert

Underground structure found in Old Jakarta might be part of an old Dutch railway structure.

19 December 2006 (Jakarta Post) – Underground structure found in Old Jakarta might be part of an old Dutch railway structure.

Kota artifact part of old railway structure: Expert

An underground structure found by workers while digging a pedestrian tunnel in Jakarta’s Old Town district might have been part of the foundation for an old railway structure from the 19th century, a recent analysis reveals.

“We have compared old maps of the area and found that in the 1800s, there were three railway tracks intersecting at that point (where the structure was found),” tunnel project structural expert Josia Irwan Rastandi said.

The old map reveals that after the southern city fortress wall was demolished, the Dutch built two railway tracks running east to west and a tram track running north to south.

Retiree goes to great lengths to search for ancient script

An amateur archaeologist goes in search of a pre-Chinese Vietnamese script.

18 December 2006 (Vietnam News) – An amateur archaeologist goes in search of a pre-Chinese Vietnamese script.

Retiree goes to great lengths to search for ancient script

For some casual observers, the idea that Viet Nam had its own script and education system thousands of years ago might be surprising. But not for Do Van Xuyen, a 71-year-old former teacher and amateur archaeologist who has devoted his life to uncovering the vestiges of Viet Nam’s past.

In AD207, Si Nhiep, an official of the period of Dong Han of China, introduced Chinese script to Viet Nam. This made Xuyen wonder: “Maybe the Vietnamese nation had its own script before this time”.

Xuyen read as much as he could and discovered the scholarly consensus was that Viet Nam had its own alphabet. That drove him to look deeper. He visited places rumoured to have ancient Vietnamese writing, but he was often disappointed. Once, hearing a tip, he climbed dangerous cliff in an ethnic minority region and sadly realised the writing was Chinese.

From documents Xuyen collected, he was able to establish that Viet Nam had its own script, separate from the Chinese. In the near future, he plans to make public his technique for reading the language.

“People often think that in the Hung King period Viet Nam did not have its own script. But I believe it did, although I have not been able to prove this,” Luong Nghi, a former lecturer of history at the Nguyen Ai Quoc Institute, said. “I met Xuyen and saw that he could prove this. I also have in my hand a list of teachers and schools from Hung King period. The State should create conditions for Xuyen to study more about ancient Vietnamese scripts. This is about the pride of the Viet Nam nation.”


Related Books:
Genetic Linguistic Archaeological Perspectives on Human Diversity in Southeast Asia by J. Li, M. Seielstad, C. Xiao (Eds)

Island excavations reveals thousands more of artifacts

19 December 2006 (Nhan Dan)

Nhan Dan, 19 Dec 2006

Island excavations reveals thousands more of artifacts

Thousands of relics of the Ha Long Culture dating back 4,000-7,000 years ago have been discovered at the Cai Beo archaeological site on Cat Ba island, northern Hai Phong port city.

According to Director of the Hai Phong Museum Nguyen Phuc Tho, the museum coordinated with the Viet Nam Archaeological Institute in December to excavate the Cai Beo site. Findings at the site included hundreds of stone objects such as axes, spearheads and pestles, and thousands of ceramic pieces such as pots, bowls, plates and other daily objects.


Related Books:
Some references to the Ha Long culture can be found in
Southeast Asia: From Prehistory to History by P. S. Bellwood and I. Glover (Eds)
The Bronze Age of Southeast Asia (Cambridge World Archaeology) by C. Higham

Terengganu Scripted Stone Exhibited In Jakarta

15 December 2006 (Bernama) – Just in case you’e not familiar with the geography, Terengganu is a state in (peninsular) Malaysia, and Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia.

Terengganu Scripted Stone Exhibited In Jakarta

The Terengganu Scripted Stone 1903, the artefact that shows the advent of Islam to the Peninsula, is one of the archeological artefacts which will be exhibited during the Titian Budaya Malaysia-Indonesia exhibition from Dec 16 to 18 here.

Museum Department Director-General Datuk Dr Adi Taha said, the scripted stone would be exhibited at a special exhibition organised by the department at the main lobby of the Jakarta Convention Centre (JCC) in conjunction with the Titian Budaya programme there.

“We shall also exhibit the Avalokiteswara Buddha (the Buddha with eight arms) and the Aceh Tombstone, he told Bernama at the programme’s Secretariat office here.

Two 2,300-year-old graves unearthed in Vietnam

15 December 2006 (Thanh Nien News)

Two 2,300-year-old graves unearthed in Vietnam

Two ancient graves, including a burial urn, dating back 2,300 years to the era of the Hung Vuong kings (280-258BCE), were found recently in Phu Tho province.

The urn is 40cm high and 55cm across, and contains three bronze items but no skeleton. From its small size it appears to have been used for burying a child.

The other grave contains a skeleton and two gemstone earrings, which were broken into three and rejoined with a bronze string.

It also has three bronze axes, three lances with nice patterned blades, and a bowl, pot, and vase.

Vietnamese archaeologists cooperate with French museum

Archaeologists from the Vietnam Institute of Archaeology will be working with the National Guimet Museum in France to investigate some 5,000 artifacts left behind by a French historian.

14 December 2006 (Vietnam Net Bridge) – Archaeologists from the Vietnam Institute of Archaeology will be working with the National Guimet Museum in France to investigate some 5,000 artifacts left behind by a French historian.

Vietnamese archaeologists cooperate with French museum

The Viet Nam Institute of Archaeology and the National Guimet Museum of Asian Arts of France have agreed on a long-term cooperation and study programme.

During a week-long working visit to the Guimet Museum in France starting on Dec. 6, Vietnamese archaeologists joined with Guimet experts in evaluating more than 5,500 Vietnamese artifacts collected by historian Henri Maspero.

Donated to the Guimet Museum after Henri Maspero’s death, the artifacts include bricks, tiles, architectural decorations, ceramic, porcelains and steel objects from different locations in Ha Noi between 1920-1930.

The Viet Nam Institute of Archaeology and the National Guimet Museum of Asian Arts agreed to work together to shed light on the historical and cultural values as well as the origin and age of these artifacts.

Underground wall worthy of further investigation, experts say

An underground wall has been uncovered in Jakarta, but the lack of legislative support and urban construction concerns mean prevent further archaeological investigation.

12 December 2006 (Jakarta Post) – An underground wall has been uncovered in Jakarta, but the lack of legislative support and urban construction concerns mean prevent further archaeological investigation.

Underground wall worthy of further investigation, experts say

The discovery of an underground structure in a historic area of West Jakarta is only the beginning of the process of studying and understanding the site, experts say.

Last month, workers digging the western entrance of a pedestrian tunnel in the Old Town area uncovered the remnants of a stone wall, buried some three meters under the earth.

“The wall is likely to stretch farther along the north-south axis,” Josia Irwan Rastandi, a structural advisor to the contractor building the tunnel, Wijaya Karya, said last week.

The ongoing construction project makes it unlikely the city administration will permit a thorough on-site investigation, but archaeologists may be able to examine the ruins from another vantage point.

The stone structure, which stretches along a straight north-south axis, is intercepted by a 160-centimeter-thick brick wall, running east-west.

Heritage activists previously called for the construction project to be halted, in the belief that the findings were part of the Batavia city wall, which was built in the early 1600s.

However, preliminary archaeological studies carried out by the city’s cultural and museums agency have determined it is not part of the old fortress

Malacca tower gets new site

11 December 2006 (New Straits Times)

Malacca tower gets new site

The city’s RM21 million revolving tower has found a new home — at the tennis court in Taman Bunga Merdeka.

The new site is just a few hundred metres from the original one by the banks of the Malacca River. The tower has to be built at the new site to enable the excavation and conservation of the Bastion Middlesburgh and the Fortaleza D’Malacca (Malacca Fort), which has been described as one of the most important archaeological finds in the state.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said the state government had agreed in principle to build the 110m tower, with a rotating cabin that could accommodate 80 people, in Taman Bunga.


Related Books:
The Malay Sultanates 1400-1700 (The Encyclopedia of Malaysia)