Wednesday Rojak #66

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Catching up on a month’s worth of rojak, so some of the stories may be a little dated. Today’s assortment takes us to the ongoing culture war between Malaysia and Indonesia, the origin of the Komodo Dragon (no, it hasn’t gone to Malaysia), and Java Man’s eating habits (no, they didn’t eat at Malaysia either).
Orchestre de gamelan (Musées de Dahlem/Berlin)
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Query: Stolen Gold from Burma in World War II

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Can anyone help with this question? In 1944, the Australian paper The Argus published a short note about the theft of a gold disc 25′ in diameter from a temple in Burma by the Japanese Occupation army (“Japanese Steal Huge Gold Disc From Temple in Burma”, The Argus, February 10, 1944, page 12). FOK (name withheld on request), a German journalist is looking for information about the name of the temple and the current whereabouts of the gold disc.

Shwedagon Pagoda
photo credit: col.hou

If you have any information about the matter, kindly contact FOK here.

Holy Smoke! The hobbit might not be human after all!

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Ordinarily, it’d be just another sway in the ongoing hobbit debate, but this time it’s different. It seems that one of the original discoverers of the Hobbit aka homo floresiensis may be rethinking the idea of the hobbit as a human. This rethink comes in the face of new discoveries of hobbit bones (a total of six to nine individuals, up from a previous number of one) as well as a study of the mandibles and teeth still suggest that they are nowhere near modern humans, but also differ from the earliest hominins out of Africa (the hominins from Dmanisi in Georgia).

photo credit: Ryan Somma

Hobbit species may not have been human
The Australian, 30 September 2009
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Ayathuyya goes high-tech

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Thailand announces an ambitious project to leverage information technology to enhance visitor services and information resources by digitizing cultural heritage collections and using IT to help with visitor planning. Among the plans are the use of RFID tags in place of paper tickets at the Chao Sam Praya museum at Ayutthaya, as well as the dissemination of content over mobile phones and Google maps. It sounds pretty progressive and forward-looking, although I’m a bit skeptical about how accessible such content can be for say, the rural poor who have problems accessing a computer or have limited use with a mobile phone. I’m also a bit skeptical about the use of RFID tags in the museum – it’s not particularly big and I suspect implementing such a system will cost ridiculously more than then paper ticket system. However the initiative certainly seems to be aimed at local collaboration rather than the tourist dollar, which is a step in the right direction. I wonder what lessons will be learned from this.

Digitising Thailand’s cultural attractions
Bangkok Post, 23 September 2009
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New book on Sukhothai's Wat Si Chum

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Wat Si Chum is one of the more unusual and significant 13th century monuments in the ancient city of Sukhothai. A monumental Buddha is almost encased in a square building and an inner staircase circumambulates the statue with depictions of the Jataka tales, which talk about the past incarnations of Buddha. The wat is the subject of focus in a new book ‘Past Lives of the Buddha’ which is reviewed in this article in the Bangkok Post. You may place an order of the book on Amazon here.

photo credit: Mikel L.

The many mysteries of Wat Si Chum

Bangkok Post, 21 September 2009
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Asian Art History at the Asia Research Institute

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Dr Moore’s presentation “Public Art and the Shwedagon in the 19-20th century” might be of interest to readers of this blog. The roundtable on Asian Art History is happening TOMORROW (29 September 2009) at the Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore. Details and registration here.

Asian Art History Roundtable
Public Art and the Shwedagon in the 19-20th century (Dr Elizabeth Moore)
Date: Tuesday, 29 Sep 2009
Time: 4 – 5.30pm
Venue: ARI Seminar Room, Tower Block Level 10, National University of Singapore @ BTC
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Public Lecture: Maritime Museums? Who needs them?


The maritime trade has played an integral role in Southeast Asia from ancient times, and so it’s no surprise that there are a lot of maritime museums popping up in Southeast Asia today. Dr Stephen Davies will be making a presentation this Wednesday (30 Sep 2009) on Maritime Museums at the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore. More details here.

Maritime Museums? Who needs them?

Date: Wednesday. 30 September
Time: 4 – 6 pm
Venue: Seminar Room, ISEAS

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quick one

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sorry for the lack of updates folks, I’ve decided to take an extended break for what is already a holiday week here in Malaysia. That, and an unexpected resort stay doesn’t help too! I’ll be back posting archaeology news and announcements on Monday.

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri to all Muslim readers out there!

Categories: Personal

Thai Log Coffin Culture in Archaeology Magazine

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If you get the chance, pick up this month’s issue of Archaeology Magazine which features an article on the Log Coffins of Mae Hong Son Province in Northern Thailand. One of the archaeologists involved in the project, Dr Rasmi Shoocongdej, kindly shares the article with us here. You can also read previous articles about the Highland Archaeology Project at Mae Hong Son here.

Letter from Thailand: Mystery of the Log Coffin Culture
Archaeology, Sep/Oct 2009
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