PhD Opportunity in Stone Artefact Archaeology

PhD opportunity in Australia to study stone artefacts in Myanmar and Southeast Asia. Details below.

FULLY FUNDED PHD OPPORTUNITY IN STONE ARTEFACT ARCHAEOLOGY IN MAINLAND SOUTHEAST ASIA

THE POSITION
Applications are invited for a fully funded PhD position in archaeology, within the Centre for Archaeological Science (CAS), University of Wollongong (UOW). The successful candidate will join a multi-disciplinary project that is seeking to generate new data related to the Late Pleistocene colonisation of Asia and Australasia by modern humans (Homo sapiens) and other archaic hominins present in the region at this time. This forms part of the ARC Australian Future Fellowship project led by Dr Ben Marwick, The archaeology of Thailand and Myanmar: A Strategic Region for Understanding Modern Human Colonization and Interactions Across our Region. This project is linked to Prof Richard ‘Bert’ Roberts’ ARC Australian Laureate Fellowship Out of Asia: unique insights into human evolution and interactions using frontier technologies in archaeological science. To address substantial questions concerning early modern human colonisation and adaptation in mainland Southeast Asia, we are developing a number of innovative archaeological-science techniques, and are assembling a research group with strengths in artefact analysis, geochronology, geoarchaeology, and archaeological chemistry.

The PhD candidate will study stone artefact assemblages to engage with major global and regional archaeological questions relating to the timing and nature of human activity during the Late Pleistocene in Southeast Asia and the wider region. The position will involve overseas fieldwork in Myanmar and an intensive, laboratory-based analytical research program. The candidate will be expected to help develop and apply novel techniques for analysing stone artefacts, and conduct an experimental program.

The candidate will receive a tax-free stipend of AUD 25,849 per year (indexed annually), for three and a half years. Research funding opportunities are available, with candidates encouraged to apply for the various university-wide schemes available at UOW and CAS. For more details, see http://www.uow.edu.au/research/rsc/prospective/index.html

THE INSTITUTION
CAS was established at UOW in 2010 to develop, integrate and apply modern scientific techniques to answer fundamental questions about human evolution and the analysis of material remains of past human life and activities. CAS is affiliated with the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences (SEES), bringing together researchers drawn from the physical, chemical, biological and geological sciences in partnership with science-based archaeologists. This means that there is plenty of scope to interact and collaborate with experts from across the Earth Sciences, and indeed PhD candidates are encouraged to do so.

CAS possesses a world-leading laboratory for archaeological science, equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation for microscopy, compositional analyses and dating. CAS members have produced high-profile publications in the field of archaeological science. We have ongoing collaborations with experts in statistics and other departments at UOW; combined with the departmental expertise, this provides an exciting research environment with many opportunities for collaborative work. For more details about CAS, see http://cas.uow.edu.au/index.html

REQUIREMENTS
Candidates are expected to hold a first class undergraduate degree, preferably Honours (or equivalent), in Archaeology, Archaeological Science, or a related discipline. For US applicants a GPA of 3.8 or higher, and field experience, is expected. Desirable, but not essential details for all applicants, include: authorship of scholarly publications; a relevant post-graduate qualification in Archaeology or a related discipline; prior experience analysing stone artefacts; international fieldwork experience; and CRM/consulting experience.
Applicants will need to show an aptitude for analytical and experimental research, and must be proficient in English. The successful applicant will be fully committed to conducting independent and original scientific research, while also collaborating with others in the CAS team. The PhD candidate will be expected to disseminate this research in peer-reviewed journal articles and conference presentations, as well as in their final PhD thesis. They will be encouraged to undertake training in relevant analytical techniques and must be willing to conduct overseas fieldwork, in sometimes challenging environments.

APPLICATION PROCEDURE
If you are interested in applying for this position and satisfy the above requirements, then please contact Dr Ben Marwick by email to discuss your application and details of the application procedure. The deadline for full applications is 23rd October 2015, and the successful candidate is expected to begin work in early 2016.
Dr Ben Marwick
Senior Research Fellow,
Centre for Archaeological Science (CAS),
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences,
Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health,
University of Wollongong,
Wollongong, NSW 2522,
AUSTRALIA
E: bmarwick@uow.edu.au

Hoi An holds shipwreck exhibition

An exhibition in the the heritage town of Hoi An showcases a vast array of artefacts retrieved from Vietnam’s waters in recent years.

Shipwreck exhibition in Quang Nam. Source: Tuoi Tre News 20150913
Shipwreck exhibition in Quang Nam. Source: Tuoi Tre News 20150913

Exhibition dedicated to shipwreck artifacts taking place in central Vietnam
Tuoi Tre News, 13 September 2015

Over 1,000 time-honored objects and specimens retrieved from sea wreckage are being displayed in a newly inaugurated exhibition hall in the central province of Quang Nam.

The People’s Committee of Hoi An City, home to the UNESCO-recognized Hoi An Ancient Town, on Saturday opened the hall, housed in a storm shelter structure in Tan Hiep Commune.

The space is dedicated to preserving and displaying articles scooped up from shipwrecks off Cu Lao Cham Island, 15km off the province’s coast, and its neighboring waters.

Full story here.

New York Times’ Review of Philippine Gold

The New York Times’ review of the Philippine Gold exhibition at the Asia Society.

Gold image of a female with upraised hands. Source: New York Times, 24 September 2015
Gold image of a female with upraised hands. Source: New York Times, 24 September 2015

Review: ‘Philippine Gold: Treasures of Forgotten Kingdoms
New York Times, 24 September 2015

More than half a millennium before Ferdinand Magellan reached the archipelago now called the Philippines in 1521, a number of related societies thrived there. Little is known about them. They left no enduring architecture, monuments or literature. One thing is certain, however: They were astoundingly skillful goldsmiths.

The star of the show and the biggest piece is a gleaming sash that could be mistaken for a futuristic ammunition belt. Made of myriad gold beads, it’s designed to be worn over one shoulder, across the chest and to the hip where one end threads through a loop and concludes with the setting for a now lost finial. Nearly five feet long and square sectioned (about an inch on a side), it weighs about nine pounds.

Another striking piece, called a kamagi, consists of 12 necklaces strung together into a nearly 15-foot-long chain punctuated by small, colored stones. The individual necklaces are composed of smooth, interlocking beads that combine to form flexible, snakelike lengths of gold.

Full story here.

Unique Iron age pottery vessel on display in Taiwan

A unique 1,800-year-old anthropomorphic jar in Taiwan is on display at New Taipei, giving visitors a chance to appreciate its craftsmanship.

Artifact heightens interest in prehistoric New Taipei
Taiwan Today, 23 September 2015

A possibly 1,800-year-old pottery vessel unearthed over a quarter of a century ago in northern Taiwan was recently put back on display at New Taipei City-based Shihsanhang Museum of Archaeology.

Dug up in 1989 at Shihsanhang Archaeological Site in Bali District, the red-brown earthenware object with a human face on its body is the only one of its kind found in Taiwan. Experts consider the piece to be a burial item, indicating the existence of religious rituals on the island during the Iron Age.

SMA Director Wu Hsiu-tzu said one of the distinctive characteristics of the vessel is the pattern comprising circles and dots on its collar and bottom. “But what really stands out is the expressive face, with its slit-like eyes, protruding eyebrows, delicate mouth and large ears.”

Full story here.

Indian Angkor Wat temple copy suspended

Following a diplomatic protest by Cambodia lodged last year, India announced earlier this month that it has ordered the construction work of a replica Angkor Wat temple in Bihar to be suspended, and the plans re-drawn with suggestions from Cambodia.

The duplicate Angkor Wat in India's Bihar state. Source: The Telegraph 20150914
The duplicate Angkor Wat in India’s Bihar state. Source: The Telegraph 20150914

India Suspends Project for Construction of Angkor Wat Replica
VOA Khmer, 08 September 2015

India Gives up Angkor Wat Replica: Cambodian Spokesman
Khmer Times, 08 September 2015

India stops Angkor Wat replica after Cambodia protests
Global Construction Review, 09 September 2015

Row over Angkor replica ends
TTR Weekly, 11 September 2015

Cambodian officials invited to suggest changes to Angkor Wat ‘replica’
Can-India News, 14 September 2015

Diplomacy axe on Bihar Angkor copy – Centre acts on Ansari visit-eve
The Telegraph, 14 September 2015

Wat copy climbdown
The Telegraph, 14 September 2015

The Narendra Modi government has convinced a private trust in Nitish Kumar-ruled Bihar to drop plans to build a giant temple similar to the iconic Angkor Wat in Cambodia, defusing simmering diplomatic tension just ahead of a visit by Vice-President Hamid Ansari to the Southeast Asian nation.

Cambodia had asked India to stop the construction of the temple a little over 100km from Patna that Phnom Penh alleges is a “copy” of the Angkor Wat temple complex.

“We are facilitating a visit by a team of Cambodian experts to the site in Bihar, so they can examine the proposed temple and suggest the changes needed to avoid any similarity with Angkor Wat,” Anil Wadhwa, secretary (east) in the foreign office, said today. “The private trust building the temple has agreed to make any changes the Cambodian team suggests.”

Ansari departs tomorrow on a two-nation tour of Cambodia and Laos. In Cambodia, he will visit the Angkor Wat and the Ta Prohm temples – which India is helping restore.

Full story here.

Phnom Penh: Past and Present

Last month SEAMEO-SPAFA organised a pair of lectures in Bangkok on the past and present of Phnom Penh. If you didn’t have a chance to catch them, here they are youtube. Phon Kaseka talks about the archaeology of Cheung Ek followed by Sisowath Menchandevy discussing the urban conservation of Phnom Penh.

(Disclosure: SEAMEO SPAFA is my employer and this was a project I organised)

CFP: Making Southeast Asian Cultures: From Region to World

Papers are being sought for the the UB Berkely-UCLA Southeast Asian Studies conference, focusing on social sciences and the humanities. Southeast Asian Archaeology represent!

UC Berkeley-UCLA Southeast Asian Studies Conference
Making Southeast Asian Cultures: From Region to World

April 22-23, 2016
At UC Berkeley

Southeast Asia is inherently transcultural. Colonization and religious conversion and change have left an indelible mark. Over the centuries, the region has also been a hub connecting China to the rest of the world, while in the modern era popular culture links many Southeast Asian countries to Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and India. Because of the political, religious and cultural diversity of the region, the problem of whether there are cultural formations specific to Southeast Asia has been a central question of Southeast Asian Studies. To take an exemplary case, the theory of mandala interstate relations was crucial to O.W. Wolters’s argument that Southeast Asia was something more than just a geographical space between India and China, being historically characterized by cultural communalities and intra-regional relationships.

Culture also has an important role in the projected integration of Southeast Asia into an ASEAN Community. One of its three pillars, the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community, is entrusted with the task of building ASEAN identity and an ASEAN sense of belonging by “fostering greater awareness of the diverse cultures and heritage of the ASEAN region” in order to enable “ASEAN peoples to recognize their regional identity and relatedness”. The governments and policy-making bodies of Southeast Asian countries are, however, notably vague about what exactly constitutes ASEAN cultural identity and heritage or whether it is even appropriate to speak of an “ASEAN mindset”.

The aim of this conference, jointly sponsored by the Center for Southeast Asia Studies at UC Berkeley (Director: Prof. Pheng Cheah) and the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at UCLA (Director: Prof. George Dutton), is to reopen this question of Southeast Asia’s culture both by looking back at the history of the region and at the dynamic transnational processes at work in contemporary globalization that actively make Southeast Asian cultures today.

For example, how have Indian Ocean trade and religious networks shaped various aspects of Southeast Asian culture and how has their localization in Southeast Asia in turn inflected these networks? In the field of contemporary art, are the different arts communities in Southeast Asia connected to and contemporary with each to other? Can we speak of a self-conscious regional identity among these communities so that visual artists from Burma who are relatively new to international art practices and discourses can be curated alongside artists from highly “globalized” Singapore in an international biennale? In the field of film studies, how have the Shaw and Cathay film empires, which were multilingual and multicultural, established a foundation for Southeast Asian film? In literary studies, has the public phenomenality of literary festivals and literature prizes such as the Man Asia Literary Prize or the Ramon Magsaysay Award in Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts helped to create a body of Southeast Asian literary works?

The conference seeks to understand the production of Southeast Asian cultures by drawing on different humanities and social science disciplines such as art history, film and visual studies, literary studies, music, anthropology, history, geography, architecture and urban studies. By self-consciously adopting a world perspective and transnational frame in the study of Southeast Asia, the conference hopes to correct the normative Eurocentrism of the disciplines, their methodological nationalism, and the relative undertheorizing of Southeast Asia in Asian studies.

The organizers invite submissions for presentations from scholars and graduate students conducting original research in the social sciences and humanities that address the primary themes of the conference. Some travel funding is available, with priority for funding directed towards faculty and graduate students at UC and CSU campuses. The conference will be held at the UC Berkeley campus,

Abstracts (up to 500 words) should be sent to CSEAS at UC Berkeley by Friday, January 8, 2016. Abstracts should include your name, affiliation and discipline and contact information (including e-mail address).

Contact: CSEAS, 1995 University Ave., 520H, Berkeley CA 94720-2318
Tel: (510) 642-3609; Fax: (510) 643-7062; E-mail: cseas@berkeley.edu.

The Center for Southeast Asia Studies at UC Berkeley and the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at UCLA form a consortium U.S. Department of Education Title VI National Resource Center for Southeast Asian Studies.

The Jar Burials of the Cardamom Mountains

The Royal Society of New Zealand has a feature and photo gallery on Dr Nancy Beavan’s (disclosure, friend of mine) work at the Cardamom Mountains, where she investigated a series of jar burials contemporaneous with Angkor.

Chhueng Kan and Tep Sokha working on the jar burial ledge, Phnom Khnang Peurng. Source: The Royal Society of New Zealand 20150911
Chhueng Kan and Tep Sokha working on the jar burial ledge, Phnom Khnang Peurng. Source: The Royal Society of New Zealand 20150911

In the Shadow of Angkor…
The Royal Society of New Zealand, 11 September 2015

The Highland Jar Burial site of Phnom Khnang Peung is the most extensive example of the unique Highland burial ritual that is being studied by Dr. Nancy Beavan from the Department of Anatomy and Structural Biology, University of Otago, School of Medical Sciences with a 2013 Marsden Fund award. The 40+ Ayutthaya-sourced Mae Nam Noi burial jars – possibly obtained via previously unsuspected trade connections with nautical traders in the Gulf of Thailand – held a total of up to 152 individuals, representing the largest corpus of skeletal remains of any of the 10 known Jar Burial sites that have been discovered in the eastern ranges of the Cardamom Mountains of Cambodia.

Full story here.

Job posting: Bioarchaeology Professor, Cornell University

A job opening at Cornell University for a bioarchaeologist, with a focus in Asia.

The Department of Anthropology at Cornell University invites applications for a tenure-track faculty position focused in bioarchaeology. We construe bioarchaeology broadly to include a range of approaches to understanding the human body in its material setting both historically and theoretically. The ideal candidate will help to strengthen links among departmental research interests in archaeology, biological anthropology, and medical anthropology. We seek candidates who ground their biological interests in archaeological field work and whose research involves a concern with archaeological context, innovative approaches to theoretical interpretation, and sensitivity to the ethics of practice. Although we have a particular interest in applications from candidates conducting research in Latin America (including the Caribbean) and Asia, geographic area of expertise is open.

View the application details here.

Talk: Death-rebirth as represented in Khmer religious iconography

Readers in London may be interested in this talk by Prof Ang Choulean at SOAS.

Death-rebirth as represented in Khmer religious iconography
Professor Ang Choulean (Anthropologist)
Date: 29 September 2015
Time: 5:15 PM

For many cultures, it is commonplace to talk about death and rebirth as intimately linked one to he other, even as infinite cycles in Indian or Indianized cultures.

My aim here is to demonstrate how in Khmer contexts death-rebirth is iconographically symbolized by a demon called Reahu who is believed to cause eclipses. This demon is represented in various forms, especially in funerals. But it also appears that Reahu is quite often sculpted on monuments of ancient Cambodia, which may help us to better understand the meaning of the latter.

Details here.