Buddhist and Hindu statues uncovered in South Vietnam

A Buddhist and a Hindu statue, both from different dates, have been excavated from the Dong Nai province in Vietnam.

28 September 2007 (Vietnam Net Bridge) – A Buddhist and a Hindu statue, both from different dates, have been excavated from the Dong Nai province in Vietnam.

Ancient stone statues discovered in Dong Nai

Two ancient stone statues which are believed to date back to between the 6th-12th centuries have been unearthed in Bien Hoa City in southern Dong Nai Province.

The first undamaged sandstone statue was identified as a Avalokitesvara piece, 70.2cm high and carved in a standing position.

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Heritage protection meeting in Cambodia

International law enforcement agencies are meeting in Siem Reap to discuss ways to combat the illicit trade in stolen Cambodian antiquities

27 September 2007 (BBC news) – International law enforcement agencies are meeting in Siem Reap to discuss ways to combat the illicit trade in stolen Cambodian antiquities.

Cambodia bid to protect treasures
by Guy De Launey

Cambodia has invited international law enforcement agencies to help protect the country’s ancient temples.

US homeland security and FBI agents are among those who may be advising the new national heritage police force.

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The leaf-books of Khmer monks

The art of inscribing text on leaves used by monks in Cambodia is in danger of being lost as the sole monk with the skill takes a two-year break without finding any successor. The Cambodian version of the art is not old – only about 100 years old – but similar ancient traditions are found elsewhere in the region, for instance by the Cham in South Vietnam (see related story at the end of the post). I wonder if there’s a regional tradition of writing texts on leaves.Further south in Bali and Java there are copies of king-lists written on palm leaves. It occurs to me that the Malay word “buku” is a corruption of the English word “book”, but ancient texts surely existed before European contact. Today, virtually all textual sources of ancient Southeast Asia is based on carved inscriptions on stone. However, I would not be surprised if this region had a rich textual culture based on leaf-books such as the ones mentioned here.

23 September 2007 (Vietnam News, courtesy of chlim01) – The art of inscribing text on leaves used by monks in Cambodia is in danger of being lost as the sole monk with the skill takes a two-year break without finding any successor. The Cambodian version of the art is not old – only about 100 years old – but similar ancient traditions are found elsewhere in the region, for instance by the Cham in South Vietnam (see related story at the end of the post). I wonder if there’s a regional tradition of writing texts on leaves. Further south in Bali and Java there are copies of king-lists written on palm leaves. It occurs to me that the Malay word “buku” is a corruption of the English word “book”, but ancient texts surely existed before European contact. Today, virtually all textual sources of ancient Southeast Asia is based on carved inscriptions on stone. However, I would not be surprised if this region had a rich textual culture based on leaf-books such as the ones mentioned here.

Monks await next in line to record history [Link no longer active]
by Trung Hieu – Vien Du

On a quiet, peaceful afternoon, in a large, airy chamber of an ancient Khmer pagoda, two yellow-robed monks – one wrinkled, one fresh-faced – study a large Buddhist prayer book.

They must turn each page carefully, for the book doesn’t contain ordinary paper. Rather, its pale yellow pages are made of a special type of dried leaf, on which prayers and descriptions of historical events are etched in delicate Khmer script.

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Wednesday Rojak #5

Hobbits! Hobbits! and more Hobbits! is the theme for this week’s Wednesday Rojak, which is not surprising since last week saw the release of a paper supporting the hobbit-is-not-human camp by describing the wrist bones of homo floresiensis as primitive, descending from an earlier hominin offshoot.

Hobbits! Hobbits! and more Hobbits! is the theme for this week’s Wednesday Rojak, which is not surprising since last week saw the release of a paper supporting the hobbit-is-not-human camp by describing the wrist bones of homo floresiensis as primitive, descending from an earlier hominin offshoot. Read about:

  • Kambiz Kamrani takes a closer look at the bone analyses outlined in the study.
  • The Cabinet of Wonders takes a step back to comment on the dynamics of opinion about the hobbit in Hobbits? It’s all in the wrist.
  • While Kris points out that between a new species of human or deformed, the hobbit might not even be human.
  • And for an overview of early human migrations through the world, TuLu Research posts a small map and timeline for your reference.
  • On an afterthought, 900 ft Jesus thinks that the whole Hobbit affair should really mess with creationists’ heads.

Of course, there’s some other stuff in Southeast Asia too, like:

In this series of weekly rojaks (published on Wednesdays) I’ll feature other sites in the blogosphere that are of related to archaeology in Southeast Asia. Got a recommendation for the next Wednesday rojak? Email me

Symposium of Mon studies at Chulalongkorn University

A conference discussing the latest developments in the study of the Mon people, who now populate the area between Myanmar and Thailand, will take place at Chulalongkorn University from October 11 to 13. This article highlights some of the major papers that will be presented in the conference.

24 September 2007 (The Nation) – A conference discussing the latest developments in the study of the Mon people, who now populate the area between Myanmar and Thailand, will take place at Chulalongkorn University from October 11 to 13. This article highlights some of the major papers that will be presented in the conference.

Palm-leaf manuscripts throw new light on ancient Mon kingdom
Mon has become the forgotten kingdom and the Mon have for centuries had no place to call home.
by Subhatra Bhumiprabhas

The history of the Mon, however, as one of the most powerful nations of Southeast Asia has been told through the generations.

Many fascinating stories in the Mon’s history and legends have been translated and retold in lots of papers – most have appeared in Burmese and Thai royal chronicles and many works on Mon studies in various languages were based on them.

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19th-century shipwreck yields Chinese ceramics

Finds from a 19th century shipwreck were recovered off the coast of Ha Tinh province. The finds were mainly Chinese ceramics and were donated to the provincial museum. The story doesn’t say much else.

24 September 2007 (VietNam Net Bridge) – Finds from a 19th century shipwreck were recovered off the coast of Ha Tinh province. The finds were mainly Chinese ceramics and were donated to the provincial museum. The story doesn’t say much else.

Sunk ship with antiques discovered in Ha Tinh

Ha Tinh Province Museum has recently received 300 ancient objects including numerous ceramic works discovered by fishermen in Cam Xuyen district in a sunken wooden ship.

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Newsweek on the Hobbit

Newsweek magazine features an interview with Matthew Tocheri, one of the investigators behind the Hobbit wrist study.

20 September 2007 (Newsweek) – Newsweek magazine features an interview with Matthew Tocheri, one of the investigators behind the Hobbit wrist study.

‘Tip of the Iceberg’
A new study of a skeleton of a member of a race of three-foot-tall ‘hobbits’ who lived 12,000 years ago in Indonesia shows that they were a species of human—and that the evolutionary path to Homo sapiens has been tortuous indeed.
by Jessica Bennett

It was an astonishing discovery: the skeletal remains of a new human species that lived for eons on a remote island while man colonized the rest of the planet. Back when it was first discovered in 2003, on the tiny Indonesian island of Flores, the three-foot-tall adult female skeleton was dubbed “the hobbit,” because she—and the 11 other skeletal remains that were found like her—bore more of a resemblance to the Tolkien fantasy characters than to modern humans. The hobbit’s discovery presented evidence that as recently as 12,000 years ago another species of human may have roamed the earth and, more startling, that our evolutionary history was a lot more complex than previously thought. Many scientists were more skeptical—the bones, they said, most likely belonged to a diminutive human with physical defects: a freak.

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The Primitive Wrist of Homo floresiensis and Its Implications for Hominin Evolution

And finally, the abstract of the homo floresiensis wrist study from Science Magazine. Subscription required for full access.

21 September 2007 (Science Magazine) – And finally, the abstract of the homo floresiensis wrist study from Science Magazine. Subscription required for full access.

The Primitive Wrist of Homo floresiensis and Its Implications for Hominin Evolution
Matthew W. Tocheri, Caley M. Orr, Susan G. Larson, Thomas Sutikna, Jatmiko, E. Wahyu Saptomo, Rokus Awe Due, Tony Djubiantono, Michael J. Morwood, William L. Jungers

Whether the Late Pleistocene hominin fossils from Flores, Indonesia, represent a new species, Homo floresiensis, or pathological modern humans has been debated. Analysis of three wrist bones from the holotype specimen (LB1) shows that it retains wrist morphology that is primitive for the African ape-human clade. In contrast, Neandertals and modern humans share derived wrist morphology that forms during embryogenesis, which diminishes the probability that pathology could result in the normal primitive state. This evidence indicates that LB1 is not a modern human with an undiagnosed pathology or growth defect; rather, it represents a species descended from a hominin ancestor that branched off before the origin of the clade that includes modern humans, Neandertals, and their last common ancestor.

The wrist is the 'smoking gun'

The proof is all in the wrist! Dr Matthew Tocheri, the lead researcher in the Hobbit wrist study explains why the wrist is the most compelling proof that our Flores hobbit is really a new species. But will this be the last we hear of the issue? I doubt it.

21 September 2007 (ABC News in Science) – The proof is all in the wrist! Dr Matthew Tocheri, the lead researcher in the Hobbit wrist study explains why the wrist is the most compelling proof that our Flores hobbit is really a new species. But will this be the last we hear of the issue? I doubt it.

Hobbit evidence will silence critics, scientist says
David Mark

Scientists say they have proof the so-called ‘hobbit’ from the Indonesian island of Flores is a new species, adding that the evidentiary smoking gun is all in the wrist.

The Smithsonian Institution’s Dr Matthew Tocheri, based in Washington, is the lead author of the paper published in the journal Science.

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Wrist gives hobbit theory the flick

Here’s a news piece about the wrist study which sums up the news quite nicely in layman terms. There’s also a dissenting opinion about the study that’s also food for thought.

21 September 2007 (ABC News in Science) – Here’s a news piece about the wrist study which sums up the news quite nicely in layman terms. There’s also a dissenting opinion about the study that’s also food for thought.

Wrist gives hobbit theory the flick
Anna Salleh

The hobbit had wrists more like those of non-human apes than those of modern humans, according to researchers who say their findings are more evidence that Homo floresiensis is a new species.

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