Adventures in Angkor – Siem Reap


I missed last week’s installment of Adventures at Angkor… oops! This last installment isn’t so much on Angkor, but on the modern town of Siem Reap, which is where you’d want to go if you want to visit the temples. It’s a small, bustling town – bustling from the massive tourist boom it has experienced since the late 1990s, and even in the off-peak tourist season the town still hums with excitement.

Siem Reap - Old Town

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The mystery at Cat Tien

Viet Nam News posts a feature about the Cat Tien archaeological site exhibition currently going on in Vietnam. The site, discovered in 1985, has revealed a number of structures and Hindu statuary which may imply that it was a seat of a civilisation that could have shared influences with many neighbouring civilisations. We’ve already seen pictures of the stone linga-yoni in previous posts – this feature has statues of Uma and Ganesha.

30 August 2007 (Viet Nam News) – Viet Nam News posts a feature about the Cat Tien archaeological site exhibition currently going on in Vietnam. The site, discovered in 1985, has revealed a number of structures and Hindu statuary which may imply that it was a seat of a civilisation that could have shared influences with many neighbouring civilisations. We’ve already seen pictures of the stone linga-yoni in previous posts – this feature has statues of Uma and Ganesha.

Viet Nam News 30 Aug 2007

Relics tell story of medieval-era Central Highlands civilisation

Why not visit the National Museum of Vietnamese History to explore and enjoy a unique collection of antiques from the Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) province of Lam Dong’s Cat Tien’s archaeological excavations?

The exhibition entitled Objects from Cat Tien – The Imprint of a Mysterious Holy Land features 300 examples selected from thousands of artefacts from the Lam Dong Provincial Museum.

The Cat Tien site was discovered unexpectedly in the National Cat Tien Park in 1985. After eight cycles of excavation, archaeologists have found many structures influenced by Indian civilisation similar to the Cham towers in My Son Heritage Site in the central Quang Nam Province.

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World Heritage Town to receive a facelift

The ancient town and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hoi An, which dates from the 15th century, is set to receive a financial boost to restore some of the relics, which includes houses and temples.

30 August 2007 (Thanh Nien News) – The ancient town and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hoi An, which dates from the 15th century, is set to receive a financial boost to restore some of the relics, which includes houses and temples.

Thanh Nien News 30 Aug 2007

Hoi An to receive million-dollar face lift

entral Vietnam’s Quang Nam province will spend some VND16.6 billion on restoring relics in the historic town of Hoi An, one of Vietnam’s UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Provincial authorities announced Thursday that the US$1.03 million project would enable the Quang Nam Preservation Center of Relics and Heritages to restore 11 relics including old houses, shrines, and temples.

The town, which was a well preserved Southeast Asian trading port from the 15th to the 19th centuries, was declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999.

The town’s riverside buildings display a fascinating array of local and foreign influences.


Further reading:
Vietnam: An Illustrated History (Illustrated Histories) by L. S. Woods

Discover Jakarta's History

29 August 2007 (Jakarta Post) – If you’re in the Indonesian capital this month, do take a stop over the Jakarta History Museum to discover the history of the city in this month-long exhibition. This article also gives a good overview on the history of Jakarta.

Jakarta Post, 29 Aug 2007

Museum visitors get chance to explore open history book
Mustaqim Adamrah

Most Jakartans have only a sketchy idea of the seminal events of their city’s history, which is why the Jakarta History Museum in Kota, West Jakarta, is presenting an exhibition that helps visitors “fill in the gaps” and rediscover the past.

“Many of the older people living in Jakarta come from places outside the city. They come here to work, looking for money, and go back to where they belong when they get enough,” museum head R. M. Manik said Tuesday after the exhibition opening.

“That’s why so few Jakartans have more than a fleeting impression of the capital’s history,” he said.

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Preserving ancient Angkor bridges

30 August 2007 (The World Bank) – This story draws attention on an ancient highway between Siem Reap and a neighbouring province, and steps taken to preserve the ancient laterite bridges. Not that the bridges have been deteriorating – which should say something about the quality of the structures, but bypass routes and bridges should ensure that they will last for even longer.

World Bank, 30 Aug 2007

Cambodia: The Kampong Kdei Bypass on National Road No. 6

Following a route along an ancient Angkor highway dating from the 12th – 13th Century, National Road No. 6 (NR6) connects Siem Reap and Kompong Thom provinces.

Recent rehabilitation activities drew special attention to the need for Cambodia to protect these unique cultural assets from increasing vehicle and heavy traffic.

With a view to preserve the authenticity and historical value of the ancient bridges, the APSARA Authority for the Protection ad Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap permitted the Ministry of Public Works and Transport to build 10 bypasses with new bridges around minor ancient bridges and a 1.3 km Kampong Kdei bypass and new bridge to divert traffic off the ancient bridges and onto the new bypasses, in conformity with UNESCO’s ad hoc expert group recommendations of December 2004.

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Wednesday Rojak

In this series of weekly rojaks (which will be published on Wednesdays) I’ll feature other sites in the blogosphere that are of related to archaeology in Southeast Asia.

What’s a rojak? If you had to ask, you’re probably from outside Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. The rojak can be inadequately described as a fruit and vegetable salad – inadequate because a lot more goes into a rojak than cucumber, turnip and pineapple. It can be safely said that no two rojak recipes are the same. Hell, some rojaks don’t even have cucumber, turnip or pineapple.

In this series of weekly rojaks (which will be published on Wednesdays) I’ll feature other sites in the blogosphere that are of related to archaeology in Southeast Asia. In this edition:

  • Follow the exploits of two girls as they visit the temples in Cambodia in Camwhoring Cambodia. Sounds naughty, but in fact it’s a travel blog about the pair’s visit to Siem Reap and the Angkor temples. Check out the July 21 post about the grinning apsaras, too.
  • Leo, a Malaysian “pastry chef in the wrong profession” makes a visit to the Bujang Valley in Kedah, Malaysia.

Got a recommendation for the next Wednesday rojak? Email me!

More Cat Tien artefacts

An update on the previous post about the Cat Tien site exhibition in Hanoi. This story contains pictures of some of the exhibits: a stone linga-yoni and a stone lintel. The exhibition seems to have extended its run from December to April next year – another excuse to hop on a cheap flight to Vietnam!

28 August 2007 (Nhan Dan) – An update on the previous post about the Cat Tien site exhibition in Hanoi. This story contains pictures of some of the exhibits: a stone linga-yoni and a stone lintel. Only the linga is shown here. The exhibition seems to have extended its run from December to April next year – another excuse to hop on a cheap flight to Vietnam!

Nhan Dan, 28 Aug 2007

Cat Tien artefacts on show in Hanoi

An exhibition of artefacts from Cat Tien, Lam Dong central highlands province opened today in Hanoi’s Museum of History, showcasing over 300 items dating back to the 8th century B.C.

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Ancient holy site to be exhibited in Hanoi

Finds from the Cat Tien archaeological site will be on display at the Vietnam History Museum until December. The site, located in the Lam Dong Province in the Central Highlands, is identified as a major religious site dating from the 4th and 8th centuries.

24 August 2007 (Vietnam Net Bridge, by way of chlim01) – Finds from the Cat Tien archaeological site will be on display at the Vietnam History Museum until December. The site, located in the Lam Dong Province in the Central Highlands, is identified as a major religious site dating from the 4th and 8th centuries. You can read previously published stories on the Cat Tien Archaeological site here and here.

Vietnam Net Bridge, 24 Aug 2007

Hanoi to get glimpse of ancient site

As of August 28, Lam Dong Museum will showcase valuable ancient objects from the Cat Tien Holy Site in Hanoi in the first effort ever to promote these famous archeological finds.

The Cat Tien Holy Site stretching for 12 km along the Dong Nai River in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong was first discovered in 1985. It is the first ancient religious capital to be discovered in the Central Highlands, and is extremely significant in the study of early civilisation in the south of what is now Vietnam.

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Metal casting tools found in Southern Vietnam

An excavation at an archaeological site in Southern Vietnam has yielded some 120,000 artefacts, including eight burials, and more significantly, the site reveals the first time metal casting tools have been found so far south.

28 August 2007 (Vietnam Net Bridge) – An excavation at an archaeological site in Southern Vietnam has yielded some 120,000 artefacts, including eight burials, and more significantly, the site reveals the first time metal casting tools have been found so far south.

Prehistoric bronze, ceramic artefacts found in Khanh Hoa

Recent excavations at the Vinh Yen relic site in Van Thanh commune, Khanh Hoa province, have revealed numerous artefacts that prove the site was a ceramic workshop dating back an estimated 3,000 years.

At the excavation site, archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology and Khanh Hoa Museum found more than 120,000 pieces of ceramic objects including jars, pots and bowls, and about 402 tools used in ceramics and bronze casting.

They also unearthed eight graves that contained bronze, stone and ceramic objects.

This is the first time metal casting tools have been found in the southern central region.


Books about the metal age in Southeast Asia:
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)
The Bronze Age of Southeast Asia (Cambridge World Archaeology) by C. Higham

Buddhist caves found in Java

A story about a remote cave in Java containing a rich set of bas-reliefs depicting Buddha’s journey. This unique cave, believed to be the only one in the world, is dated approximately 800 years old. In this period, much of Java (still part of the Srivijayan empire) was Buddhist. Sadly, there have also been some reports of statues in the caves gone missing.

27 August 2007 (Jakarta Post) – A story about a remote cave in Java containing a rich set of bas-reliefs depicting Buddha’s journey. This unique cave, believed to be the only one in the world, is dated approximately 800 years old. In this period, much of Java (still part of the Srivijayan empire) was Buddhist. Sadly, there have also been some reports of statues in the caves gone missing.

Jakarta Post, 27 Aug 2007

East Java cave depicts Buddha’s journey

The road running along the hill in Jireg village, Bondowoso, East Java, is deserted. Once in a while, a motorbike breaks the silence.

In this arid and rocky area far from the noise of the island’s cities, is a cave containing what could be some of the most important carvings in Indonesia.

Indonesia’s Theravada Buddhists believe the cave, known locally as Gowa Buto, “giant” in Madurese, contains the reliefs in the cave, which depict Buddha’s journey, are the most complete set in the world.

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