Smuggled artefacts from Cambodia might be repatriated

New bilateral relations between Cambodia and Thailand’s new government are off to a promising start after the first meeting between the two foreign ministers saw an agreement to repatriate some artefacts that were confiscated by Thailand 10 years ago. The artefacts were believed to be enroute to Singapore through Thailand, a major smuggling route for antiquities out of this region.

Thais may return antiquities
Phnom Penh Post, 27 January 2009
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Website about ethnic populations in Southeast Asia

Ethnoarchaeologists might find this site useful, perhaps? The Center for Ethnic Studies and Development at Chiang Mai University has a website with a database of downloadable articles about ethnic populations in Southeast Asia. While there is a distinct Thai focus in the site, about 40% of the 12,000 articles are in English. An e-museum also features video clips of some local ethnic cultures. (from New Mandala)

Center for Ethnic Studies and Development

The Star's 10 most beautiful temples list

Malaysia’s Star takes us on a tour of the 10 most beautiful temples in the world – all notably Asian, and half of them from Southeast Asia.

photo credit: Master 心道

When faith takes form
The Star, 24 January 2009
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Preserving an ancient, living village

A seminar by the Vietnamese Institution for the Preservation of Relics was held last week to discuss ways to preserve and develop the ancient village of Duong Lam, some 60 km away from Hanoi. The village’s history goes as far back as 1,200 years and is the a popular tourist location. Many of the houses at the village are about 400 years old.

Preservation of Duong Lam ancient village
Vietnam Net Bridge, 23 January 2009
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Tracking human migration through bacteria

While we’re on the topic of the Austronesian migration, the same issue of Science also carried another article about the tracing of human migration through the pacific. This time, the tracing of human bacteria indicate two splits of pacific populations from Asian ones, the first occurring around 30,000 years ago, while the second through one of the Austronesian subgroups 5,000 years ago.

Role of Bacteria 15
photo credit: INeedCoffee

The Peopling of the Pacific from a Bacterial Perspective
Science, 23 January 2009
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Language analysis shows possible trajectory of Austronesian expansion

Our understanding of the recent expansion of the Austronesian-speaking language groups out of Taiwan and into Southeast Asia and Polynesia is enhanced by a new paper out in Science, which argues through the analysis of 400 Austronesian languages that the Austronesian expansion occurred in pulses, which were correlated to the development of new technologies and social innovations.

Language Phylogenies Reveal Expansion Pulses and Pauses in Pacific Settlement
Science, 23 January 2009

Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database

Pacific people spread from Taiwan

Science Daily, 22 Jan 2009
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Building inter-regional networks of archaeological knowledge in Southeast Asia

This looks like a step in the right direction: the Centre for Khmer Studies ave started work on creating a network for archaeologists in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos to work together, and more importantly generate inter-regional research projects operating under the same methodology. As a region, I think the archaeological traditions in each country are still very much limited by modern national borders – one of the most evident is the way in which each country’s archaeological timeline differs from each other.

Much more has to go by way of building bridges and relationships between countries. One of the difficulties I’ve seen is the way some countries can be quite parochial about the direction of archaeology takes – partly because of political and nationalistic overtones that may arise, but also sometimes from a perceived “territorial” claim over a particular field of study. Other barriers include recent past histories (like how we’ve seen between Thailand and Cambodia over Preah Vihear), or even something as simple as the language barrier.

It’ll be interesting to see, over the next few years, how this project by the Centre for Khmer Studies sheds light on the archaeology of the inland routes from the Tonle Sap to the South China Sea. More interesting is the see how a model for inter-regional collaboration might be achieved through this project.

Tracking Asia’s ‘ancient highways’
Phnom Penh Post, 22 January 2008
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Report of looting in Cambodia, with involvement by the authorities

Khmerization translates an article in Koh Santeapheap about the looting of a 1,000-year-old man-made hill in Svay Rieng Province. The unauthorised dig was done apparently with the collusion of the local district chief and chief of police before excavations were stopped by the provincial heritage office.

A thousand year old burial site looted by powerful people
Koh Santeapheap Daily, translated by Khmerization, 20 January 2009
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Cham Sculpture museum launches online presence

Speaking of websites, the Cham Museum of Da Nang Province was also recently launched their own website last week. Da Nang is some 30 km away from Hoi An, and the 90-year-old museum is home to a large repository of stone, terracotta and bronze statuary from Cham sies like My Son and Tra Kieu.

Cham Sculpture Museum’s website unveiled
Vietnam Net Bridge, 21 January 2009
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