FSU anthropologist confirms 'Hobbit' indeed a separate species

A new development in the Hobbit debate, paleoneurologist Dean Falk from Florida State University concluded that the Hobbit is indeed a new species, rather than a human with microcephaly. This conclusion was made by making comparisons of the brain casts between human, microcephalic and hobbit specimens.

30 January 2007 (Eureka Alerts, BBC) – A new development in the Hobbit debate, paleoneurologist Dean Falk from Florida State University concluded that the Hobbit is indeed a new species, rather than a human with microcephaly. This conclusion was made by making comparisons of the brain casts between human, microcephalic and hobbit specimens.

BBC, 30 Jan 2007
Comparisons between a microcephalic (left) and the Hobbit (right)
(Image: Kirk E. Smith, Electronic Radiology Laboratory, Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology)

FSU anthropologist confirms ‘Hobbit’ indeed a separate species

After the skeletal remains of an 18,000-year-old, Hobbit-sized human were discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003, some scientists thought that the specimen must have been a pygmy or a microcephalic — a human with an abnormally small skull.

Not so, said Dean Falk, a world-renowned paleoneurologist and chair of Florida State University’s anthropology department, who along with an international team of experts created detailed maps of imprints left on the ancient hominid’s braincase and concluded that the so-called Hobbit was actually a new species closely related to Homo sapiens.

Now after further study, Falk is absolutely convinced that her team was right and that the species cataloged as LB1, Homo floresiensis, is definitely not a human born with microcephalia — a somewhat rare pathological condition that still occurs today. Usually the result of a double-recessive gene, the condition is characterized by a small head and accompanied by some mental retardation.

In this latest study, the researchers compared 3-D, computer-generated reconstructions of nine microcephalic modern human brains and 10 normal modern human brains. They found that certain shape features completely separate the two groups and that Hobbit classifies with normal humans rather than microcephalic humans in these features. In other ways, however, Hobbit’s brain is unique, which is consistent with its attribution to a new species.

Comparison of two areas in the frontal lobe, the temporal lobe and the back of the brain show the Hobbit brain is nothing like a microcephalic’s and is advanced in a way that is different from living humans. In fact, the LB1 brain was the “antithesis” of the microcephalic brain, according to Falk, a finding the researchers hope puts this part of the Hobbit controversy to rest.


Related Books:
Little People And a Lost World: An Anthropological Mystery by L. Goldenberg

Preservation plans unveiled for subterranean ancient town

Remains of an ancient town found underneath the Hoi An Town (a World Heritage Site by itself) will be preserved and studied by archaeologists from Vietnam and Japan.

29 January 2007 (Thanh Nien News) – Remains of an ancient town found underneath the Hoi An Town (a World Heritage Site by itself) will be preserved and studied by archaeologists from Vietnam and Japan.

Thanh Nien News, 29 Jan 2007

Preservation plans unveiled for subterranean ancient town

The Quang Nam provincial administration is chalking out plans to conserve an ancient town and relics dating back to about four centuries ago recently unearthed in the area.

It said a special museum would be built to research, preserve and promote tourism visits to the ancient town, discovered 2 meters below the earth of the now Hoi An town.

Archeologists from the Hanoi National University and Japan’s Showa Women’s University immediately asked authorities concerned to halt the construction work so that they could begin excavating the site.

The ensuing search found thousands of pieces of glazed terra cotta and porcelain as well as eleven coins of Chinese, Vietnamese, and Japanese origins at the archaeological site.

Historical Treasure Troves Looted: West and Central Java

New archaeological finds in Java are being looted by local villagers, with reports of hundreds of kilogrammes of gold being taken from graves and sold in the black market.

21 January 2007 (Jakarta Post and Reuters, by way of planetmole.org) – New archaeological finds in Java are being looted by local villagers, with reports of hundreds of kilogrammes of gold being taken from graves and sold in the black market.

Historical Treasure Troves Looted: West and Central Java

It appears that too many Indonesian farmers and the ilk have been watching Lara Cross and Tomb Raider recently. There have been two important archaeological finds in Central and West Java – both were looted.

The finds were in tombs in a rice field at Kendal Jaya village east of Jakarta, and the other in Sleman near Magelang in central Java.

In West Java, farmers have sold hundreds of gold artifacts stolen from skeletal corpses unearthed at a newly-found ancient burial complex. The skeletons had chains of gold rings around their necks, heads, hands, and feet.

They were buried with other accessories made of precious stones or gold as well as axes and other pottery articles. Between 15 and 25 people are estimated to have been buried at the site at a depth of only about 1.5 meters (five feet).

Archaeologists expressed concern at reports that hundreds of villagers have been selling gold necklaces and ornaments that they found at the site over the past week.

Archaeological agency official Manggar Sariayuwati said it was estimated the relics dated back to an 8th or 9th century Buddhist kingdom.

And, an archaeological team working in Magelang district near Yogyakarta have also unearthed a site from the Mataram Kingdom dating back to the ninth century AD.

The site at Losari village is believed to possibly be even bigger than the famous Borobudur Buddhist monument near Yogyakarta city, which also dates back to around the ninth century.

The head of the Yogyakarta ancient heritage office, Manggar Sariayuwati, said that the findings were estimated to be dated from the eighth to the ninth century AD.

Java has many ancient sites dating back to the Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms that flourished from the seventh century onwards.


Related Books:
Early Kingdoms of the Indonesian Archipelago and the Malay Peninsula by P. M. Munoz
The Buddhist World of Southeast Asia (Suny Series in Religion) by D. K. Swearer

The ruins of Sambor Prei Kuk

27 January 2007 (The Star) – Funny how the temple of Sambor Prei Kuk (Sambo Prey Kok in previous posts) keep coming up one after another. This is a travel piece from the Malaysian newspaper.

The ruins of Sambor Prei Kuk

Lest you entertain images of grand temple ruins akin to the grandeur of the awesome Angkor Wat, you’d be disappointed. Sambor Prei Kuk is a group of ancient temple ruins scattered within a shady forest. Originally called Isanapura, it pre-dates Angkor Wat and was the capital city during the reign of King Isana Varman 1, the son of King Citrasena.

Few tourists know of it. The only “horde” here was a group of Cambodian kids who rushed to our bus, hawking brightly-coloured homespun scarves at US$1(RM3.50) each.

Built at the end of the 6th century, the ruins are touted to be some of the oldest structures in the country, covering an area of 5sq km.

About 100 small temples are scattered throughout the forest. Left in the open and not maintained, some of the structures are just mere remnants of their original building – perhaps a broken wall here, a vine-choked edifice there. There are 52 temples in recognisable condition, and another 52 sites where the original structures are now buried in the ground, visible only as small hills.

All is not lost. The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts together with the Waseda University, supported by The Foundation for Cultural Heritage and the Sumitomo Fund have started the Sambor Prei Kuk Conservation Project to restore these ruins.


Related Books:
Southeast Asia: From Prehistory to History by P. S. Bellwood and I. Glover (Eds)
Khmer Sculpture and the Angkor Civilization by M. Giteau

Angkor revamp: India's loss, China's gain

28 January 2007 (The Times of India)

Angkor revamp: India’s loss, China’s gain

China and Japan are in a race to grab a larger portion of the restoration work at Angkor Wat, the 12th century Hindu temple in Cambodia.

These well-intended moves also highlight India’s inability to make the most of an opportunity to build on age-old cultural ties with Cambodia and be seen as an influential friend in the region, sources said.

The Cambodian government and the Unesco are considering an offer from Beijing to fully restore the 900-year-old Chou Say temple, one of the shrines in the sprawling temple complex built by the Chola dynasty.

The project would cost just $1.86 million to the Chinese but it would open the doors for bagging contracts for larger archaeological sites in the complex.


Related Books:
Angkor Cities and Temples by C. Jaques
The Treasures of Angkor: Cultural Travel Guide (Rizzoli Art Guide) by M. Albanese
Southeast Asia: From Prehistory to History by P. S. Bellwood and I. Glover (Eds)
Khmer Sculpture and the Angkor Civilization by M. Giteau

Japan, Cambodia to join hands in conserving ancient temple complex

26 January 2007 (People’s Daily)

Japan, Cambodia to join hands in conserving ancient temple complex

Cambodian and Japanese students studying archeology will excavate, restore and conserve the old sites at the Sambo Prey Kok temple complex in Kompong Thom province from 2007 to 2012, local press reported on Thursday.

An agreement for restoring the temple complex was signed by Hem Cheim, acting minister of Culture and Fine Arts, and Mr. Nakaga Watakesi, head of Washida Japan Organization on Tuesday, the Raksmey Kampuchea Daily reported.

Nakaga said that the Preah Vihear temple in northern Cambodia will be counted in the World Cultural Heritage this year, and the Sambo Prey Kok temple will copy the model from Preah Vihear temple too.


Related Books:
Southeast Asia: From Prehistory to History by P. S. Bellwood and I. Glover (Eds)
Khmer Sculpture and the Angkor Civilization by M. Giteau

Dating temple architecture: William Southworth

Lundi 29 janvier 2007 / Monday 29th of January 2007
Vous êtes cordialement invités à la présentation informelle,

You are cordially invited to attend the following informal presentation
Dating temples in Southeast Asia
William SOUTHWORTH
Postdoctoral Research Fellow,
International Institute of Asian Studies, Leiden University

The talk will examine the different methods used for dating temple architecture, including the use of historical analogy, epigraphy, art history, architecture and archaeology. The talk will illustrate both the advantages and disadvantages of each approach, with examples taken from the study of ancient Champa, Java and Cambodia. The purpose of the discussion will be to show both the problems of temple dating and the advantages of a multi-disciplinary approach in solving questions of chronology.

Dr William Southworth is a graduate in Southeast Asian Studies from the University of Hull in the United Kingdom. He completed an MA in Archaeology at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, in 1991 and a PhD on the origins of Champa in 2001. Between 1999 and 2002 he worked for the Centre of Khmer Studies in Siem Reap, and has since taught at the University of Bonn. He is currently involved in a project on early temple architecture in Cambodia with the University of Leiden.

18 h 30, lundi 29 janvier 2007, au centre de l’EFEO.

Monday 29th of January 2007, at 6:30 pm at the EFEO.
Presentation will be in English РLa pr̩sentation sera en Anglais

Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO) Siem Reap
P.O. Box 93 300, Siem Reap – Angkor
Phum Beng Don Pa, Khum Slâ Kram, Siem Reap, Cambodge
Tel: (885) (16) 635 037 / (63) 964 630 / 760 525. Tel/Fax: (855) (63) 964 226

Email: efeo.angkor@online.com.kh / efeo.angkor.bib@online.com.kh

http://www.efeo.fr/

Related Books:
Angkor Cities and Temples by C. Jaques
Temple Art Icons and Culture of India and South East Asia by K. V. Raman
The Art and Architecture of Thailand: From Prehistoric Times Through the Thirteenth Century by H. W. Woodward
The Mysteries of Borobudur: Discover Indonesia Series by J. N. Miksic
Hindu-Buddhist Architecture in Southeast Asia (Studies in Asian Art and Archaeology, Vol 19) by D. Chihara
Some architectural design principles of temples in Java: A study through the buildings projection on the reliefs of Borobudur Temple by P. Atmadi

Fine Arts Dept to publish archaeology glossary

22 January 2007 (The Nation) – I’d be interested in getting this glossary. Anyone with information about when are where to get it? The article is quite scant on information.

Fine Arts Dept to publish archaeology glossary

The Fine Arts Department will publish the country’s first archaeology glossary this March, a senior official said Monday.

The glossary will be available to universities, government agencies and the public in book and compact-disc forms.

The publication is a five-year joint effort by department archaeologists, experts and academics. It marks His Majesty the King’s 80th birthday later this year, said department deputy director-general Khemachat Thepchai.

The illustrated glossary contains several thousand definitions of archaeological words and terms. It covers prehistoric archaeology, the history of art, iconology and architectural technology, Khemachat said.

Historical relics found in Sleman

19 January 2007 (Jakarta Post)

Historical relics found in Sleman

Historical relics were discovered Thursday in Palgading hamlet in Sinduharjo village, Sleman regency, by a resident.

The relics, which included a Buddha statue, were found by Muqorobin while he was digging. The findings were taken to Yogyakarta’s archaeological agency office.

“I was digging a hole for a septic tank in my backyard when I hit a hard object that I thought was ordinary stone,” Muqorobin said. “When I saw the statues I thought they must be of historical importance as many relics have previously been found in Palgading.”

Archaeological agency official Manggar Sariayuwati said it was estimated the relics dated back to an 8th or 9th century Buddhist kingdom.


Related Books:
Early Kingdoms of the Indonesian Archipelago and the Malay Peninsula by P. M. Munoz
Narrative Sculpture and Literary Traditions in South and Southeast Asia (Studies in Asian Art and Archaeology) by J. Fontein and M. J. Klokke (Eds)
The Buddhist World of Southeast Asia (Suny Series in Religion) by D. K. Swearer

Another ancient stone slab discovered in Ha Giang

19 January 2007 (Vietnam Net Bridge) – I’ve got no information on the other stone slabs.

Another ancient stone slab discovered in Ha Giang

A 3 sq. m wide slab of stone believed to be an altar for prehistoric people has been discovered in Xin Man district, northern mountainous Ha Giang province.

The stone slab is propped up on three stone pillars, 200m away from a field discovered two years ago full of ancient stone slabs with strange carvings.

Archaeologists from the Viet Nam Institute of Archaeology are now studying the significance of the carvings and odd patterns on the stone, to try to come up with ways of preserving them from the ravages of time and weather.