Cambodian military official caught smuggling statues out of the country

A Cambodian official was caught smuggling three statues out of the country when he was checked by the customs officials at the Thai border.

Statues confiscated at the Thai-Cambodian border. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20150427
Statues confiscated at the Thai-Cambodian border. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20150427

Statues seized at border
Phnom Penh Post, 27 April 2015

Army Officer Smuggling Statues Into Thailand Caught at Border
Cambodia Daily, 27 April 2015

A military official was arrested in Thailand on Saturday after smuggling three statues across the border from Banteay Meanchey province in his car, officials said Sunday.

Prak Sa, chief of the Boeung Trakuon border checkpoint in Banteay Meanchey’s O’Chrou district, said that Soeun Oeun, 49—an intelligence officer from the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces’ Region 5 in Battambang province—was arrested at about 5 p.m., just after passing through screening on the Cambodian side of the checkpoint.

“We were careless with checking his car, in which he had hidden three ancient statues, but he was arrested by Thai border police,” Mr. Sa said. He said Mr. Oeun regularly went through the checkpoint in O’Beichoan commune to purchase food or gasoline in Thailand.

“The suspect goes back and forth every day,” he said, adding that Cambodian border police had never had reason to suspect nefarious activity.

Full story here.

A historical guide to one of Bangkok’s canals

A Bangkok Post feature on the historic Krung Kasem canal, which is quite near my workplace, and all the notable sights along it. At the end of the canal is the 600-year-old Wat Thewarat Kunchorn, which is just outside my workplace!

Wat Yuan Saphan Khao. Source: Bangkok Post 20150423
Wat Yuan Saphan Khao. Source: Bangkok Post 20150423

Streaming with history
Bangkok Post, 23 April 2015

Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem is likely to become one of Bangkok’s major transportation routes once again due to government support, and this may also benefit tourism. Building of the canal was commissioned by King Rama IV in 1851 to serve as the outer city moat. It runs in parallel with the first and second tiers of the city moat — Khlong Khumuang Doem and Khlong Rob Krung.

Wat Thewarat Kunchorn was a civil temple built during the Ayutthaya period and called Wat Samor Khraeng, or Thamor Khraeng. The word Thamor is a Khmer word meaning stone. In the reign of King Rama IV, the temple was renamed after the name of Prince Phitakdeves, who restored it. Its ordination hall houses the principal Buddha statue, Phra Phutthadevaraj Patimakorn, which is in the posture of subduing the Mara. Made in the Dvaravati period, it consists of metal and is covered with gold lacquer. On the interior walls are beautiful murals including the gathering of the Deva (guardian spirits), the Lord Buddha’s previous life as Phra Suvarnasam and monks looking at dead bodies. Behind the principal Buddha statue is the painting of this temple in the past before this ordination hall was constructed. Phra Vihara (prayer hall) enshrines nine Buddha statues of nine periods.

“This canal was dug with the aim of expanding the city,” said Rapeepat Ketkosol, an official at Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s (BMA) tourism division. According to him, the canal is about 6km long. It was 3m deep initially, but grew shallower over time. It is now just over 2m deep.

On April 1 this year, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha ordered the BMA to seek to develop Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem as a transportation and tourism route.

Full story here.

Rock art discovered in eastern Indonesia

A new rock art site has been discovered in the Kei Islands of Indonesia’s Maluku Province, as well as in the Aru Islands.

Ohoidertaun rock paintings discovered in Kei islands
Antara News, 25 April 2015

Ancient rock paintings have been discovered in the Ohoidertaun village of Kei islands.

These include at least 400 images, among others of humans, hand prints, trees, and boats, the head of Ambons archaeology office Muh. Husni said on Friday.

“Up to now, the Mesolithic discovery was still the most image-contained rock panting that had been found in the Maluku province,” he added.

According to him, the Ohoidertaun rock paintings have not been studied further, including their age.

“We do not know the age yet. It needs in-depth research. However, according to the number of motive images, we can conclude that the culture at the time was well developed,” Husni said.

Full story here.

Chinese ceramics suggest presence of a ruler in ancient Singapore

Preliminary finds of a specific type Chinese Ming ware used as gifts for overseas leaders suggest that ancient Singapore may have been the seat of a local ruler who was recognised by the Chinese.

Excavation at Empress Place. Source: The Straits Times 20150426
Excavation at Empress Place. Source: The Straits Times 20150426

Archaeological discoveries dig deeper into past
The Straits Times, 26 April 2015

Archaeological discoveries keep confirming that there was a thriving community here long before Stamford Raffles “created” Singapore in the 19th century. The latest evidence suggests that Temasek, or ancient Singapore, could have had an established government with a head ruler or chieftain way back in the late 14th century.

In unearthing this evidence during a dig at Empress Place, archaeologists have shed light on gaps in knowledge of the past. Singapore’s history was supposed to have begun with the providential role of colonials who made it a functional landing post. The evidence suggests otherwise. In digging it up, the archaeological team has provided additional proof of Singapore’s international provenance as well. It has discovered Chinese imperial-grade ceramics produced between 1375 and 1425. These had been bestowed by the Ming Dynasty emperor Hongwu on overseas leaders. Although Raffles undoubtedly gave Singapore a new lease of life as a commercial city, one that lasts to this day, he was not the originator of Singapore. To say that it had flourished before him does not detract from his importance but places it in historical perspective.

Full story here.

Lithophone found in central Vietnam

A farmer in Quang Binh Province unearthed what is thought to be a set of stone gongs, which has been donated to the local museum.

Supposed lithophone found in Quang Binh province. Source: Viet Nam News 20150424
Supposed lithophone found in Quang Binh province. Source: Viet Nam News 20150424

Farmer discovers lithophone in Quang Binh
Viet Nam News, 24 April 2015

The general museum of the central Quang Binh Province yesterday announced the discovery of a lithophone.

Farmer Pham Dinh Huyen was digging in his garden in Cu Nam Commune in the province’s Bo Trach District, when he found 20 unique rock pieces 2m below the surface. The rocks produced musical sounds when Huyen hit them with a hammer.

Several lithophone sets have been found in the northern-central Phu Yen Province and Central Highlands region.

Full story here.

Queen mother’s rickshaw now on display in Hue

A Nguyen Dynasty-era rickshaw that was taken out to France, and recently repatriated when it was sold at an auction, is finally back in Vietnam and now on display in Hue.

 Queen Mother Tu Minh's rickshaw. Source: Viet Nam News 20150423
Queen Mother Tu Minh’s rickshaw. Source: Viet Nam News 20150423

Antique rickshaw back from France
Viet Nam News, 23 April 2015

The conservation centre in Hue yesterday opened a new section inside the former Imperial Citadel to display the ambience of the queen mothers under the Nguyen dynasty (1802-1945).
The area was used as a waiting lounge for guests who paid visits to the queen mothers in Dien Tho Palace, part of a harem designated for queen mothers.

The items on display include a wooden rickshaw that the Hue Monuments Conservation Centre bought at an auction in France for US$100,000.

The rickshaw was used by Queen Mother Tu Minh, who was given it as a gift by her son, King Thanh Thai, (1879-1954) for the queen to move around inside the vast palace.

Full story here.

Neolithic burials found in central Vietnam

Australian and Vietnamese archaeologists working in Central Vietnam have uncovered three burials, presumed to date to the Neolithic.

Excavations at Ha Tinh province. Source: Viet Nam News 20150423
Excavations at Ha Tinh province. Source: Viet Nam News 20150423

Three ancient skeletons found
Viet Nam News, 23 April 2015

Three skeletons found in the central province of Ha Tinh are estimated to be about 5,000 years old, said Nguyen Tri Son, director of the provincial museum.

The skeletons were lying next to each other 1.8 metres beneath soil depth on Ru Diep Mountain, Thach Dai Commune, Thach Ha District. Their skulls, teeth, ribs and bones were still intact.

The archaeologists believed that the remains belonged to people from the New Stone Age.

Full story here.

More artefacts found in former Thai police chief’s house

A police raid on the former Thai head of the Central Investigation Bureau’s house has turned up even more artefacts.

Officials raiding the former police CIB chief's house. Source: Bangkok Post 20150424
Officials raiding the former police CIB chief’s house. Source: Bangkok Post 20150424

More of Pongpat’s loot seized
Bangkok Post, 24 April 2015

Thousands more antiques, artefacts and other valuables have been seized from imprisoned former Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) chief Pongpat Chayapan in raids on two houses in Nonthaburi province and handed over to the Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo) to be auctioned off.

The valuables were seized from a four-storey house in Sawasdikan Thahanbok housing estate and the Sawong Antique shop on Chaeng Watthana Road in Pak Kret district late on Thursday.

The seizures include ancient headdresses, lamps, doors and deity statues; an oil painting depicting Buddha’s life dating from the reign of King Rama III; Buddha images from the Sukhothai era; other artefacts, collectibles and ivory statues, and mounted protected wildlife.

Full story here.

Cambodia considering Angkor ticket price hike

The APSARA Authority is considering revising the admission prices to the Angkor Archaeological Park upwards. Current fees are $20-$60 for a one-day to a seven-day pass – what do you think if prices were raised?

Angkor Wat

Apsara mulls hike for Angkor Wat tickets
Phnom Penh Post, 22 April 2015

The Apsara Authority, the government entity that manages the ancient temple complex at Angkor, is studying the possibility of increasing ticket prices, stating that current prices are “low” when compared with similar destinations in other countries.

Long Kosal, deputy director of the Apsara Authority’s Communications Department, said yesterday that internal discussions among government officials and relevant stakeholders are under way to raise ticket prices, keeping in mind its impact on tourist traffic.

“Current prices are low compared to what the complex provides to tourists. At the complex, tourists can see more than just the Angkor Wat temple, but also Bayon Temple, Banteay Srey Temple. Compared to destinations in other countries, our price is relatively low,” Kosal said.

Full story here.

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Villagers find remains of Majapahit architecture beneath Trowulan

Trowulan in East Java is the centre of the Majapahit Empire, and locals still regularly find the remains of ancient architecture beneath the ground.

Remains of Majapahit-era relics found in Trowulan district. Source: Sindonews 20150410
Remains of Majapahit-era relics found in Trowulan district. Source: Sindonews 20150410

Menelusuri Peninggalan Majapahit di Desa Medali (1)
Sindonews, 10 April 2015
Article is in Bahasa Indonesia

Sisa-sisa peninggalan Kerajaan Majapahit memang banyak ditemukan di sejumlah desa di Kecamatan Trowulan, Kabupaten Mojokerto, Jawa Timur.

Di lokasi yang diduga kuat menjadi pusat Kerajaan Hindu itu terdapat banyak bangunan kuno yang masih berdiri tegar. Baik berupa candi, petilasan, atau bahkan kolam raksasa serta benda-benda lain milik warga kerajaan.

Memang tak hanya di Trowulan, bangunan bersejarah peninggalan kerajaan dengan patih tersohor Gajah Mada itu juga mudah ditemukan di beberapa desa di Kecamatan Sooko.

Wilayah ini memang berbatasan dengan Kecamatan Trowulan. Meski tak terdapat candi, namun bangunan kuno berupa petilasan dan tembok-tembok raksasa mudah ditemukan di kecamatan ini.

Full story here.