An 11th century altar, believed to be significant in the Ly Dynasty period of Vietnam, was unearthed during the construction of an underground car park. The Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences has written to the Prime Minister to intervene.
Earlier this week, the journal Antiquity published a paper entitled ‘The global implications of the early surviving rock art of greater Southeast Asia’, which I was a co-author of. The paper touches on a number of rock art projects that have happened in the recent years: my contribution was on the rock art of Gua Tambun in Malaysia, which I investigated as part of my MA, and the paper also touches on the rock art of Cambodia that later became part of my PhD thesis. Other regions included Thailand, Myanmar and Indonesia – the last of which is fresh in our minds because of recent research that shows it was as old, if not older than the painted caves in Europe.
Since the discovery of the painted caves of France, rock art studies has tended to be dominated by Eurocentrism as the ‘origin’ of art. Far from arguing that Southeast Asia is the origin of art, we are beginning to see with Southeast Asia, and I expect in other parts of the world that the tradition of painting in rock surfaces was widespread, even in prehistoric times, and may have begun even before humankind started moving out of Africa into other parts of the world. This paper is a snapshot of rock art research in Southeast Asia, and I am glad to be part of it.
Links to the paper in article in Antiquity and some of the associated news stories:
Last week Unesco organised a symposium on the illicit trafficking of antiquities (which I will write a little bit more about in a later post), here is a news writeup on it, although it doesn’t actually mention the symposium itself, it quotes a number of speakers there.