Public lecture: The Rise and Fall of the Khmer Empire

Readers in Los Angeles might be interested in the colloquium by Dr Chen Chenratana on the rise and fall of Angkor.

Siem Reap Reflections (CAMBODIA/REFLECTION/ANGKOR WAT) VI

The Rise and Fall of the Khmer Empire during the Angkor period, 9th to 15th century A.D.
Colloquium with Dr. CHEN Chanratana, University of Cambodia
Date: February 16, 2016
Time: 12:30 PM – 2:00 PM
Venue: 10383 Bunche Hall, UCLA Campus, Los Angeles, CA

Archaeological research in Cambodia began in the late 19th century following the rediscovery of the lost jungle capital of the Khmer Empire by French explorers. The artistic and architectural magnificence of the Khmer civilization immediately attracted the greatest scholars of France and Europe. American and Asian scholars later joined the mission to better understand this brilliant culture. People from around the world participated in grand efforts to map, excavate and restore ancient structures and countless studies, articles and books were published about the Khmer.

Tragically, war in Southeast Asia during the 1970s stopped academic progress for nearly 25 years. Cambodia did not begin to recover until the early 1990s when the present government restored order in the nation. In 1994, Angkor Wat was registered as a World Heritage site attracting many international heritage groups to Cambodia and the Angkor region. Working with local experts from Cambodia’s Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts and the APSARA Authority these organizations are once again continuing the mission to restore and preserve the legacy of Khmer temples and heritage.

The presentation will focus on the Rise and the Fall of the Khmer Empire during the Angkor period, from the 9th to 15th centuries A.D., drawing on the most recent research findings from local and international institutions.

More details here.

East Asia in the annals of human evolution

Darren Curnoe argues that recent archaeological finds from East Asia and Southeast Asia hint at fundamental changes in our understanding of human evolution.

East Asia makes a comeback in the human evolution stakes
The Conversation, 22 January 2016

Archaeological discoveries in East Asia over the last decade or so have dramatically rewritten our understanding of human evolution.

But the implications don’t sit easily with many scholars internationally who continue to see Europe and Africa as the heartland of human origins.

For more than 150 years our understanding of human evolution has been largely shaped by the discoveries made in Europe and parts of Africa, like the caves near Johannesburg and the Great Rift Valley on the east of the continent.

Full story here.

Angkor visitor centre being built

A visitor centre (‘Parvis’) is being built at the western entrance of Angkor Wat which will incorporate parking, and information centre and some shopping and dining options for visitors.

Parvis construction. Source: Khmer Times 20160119
Parvis construction. Source: Khmer Times 20160119

Hospitality Complex for Angkor
Khmer Times, 19 January 2016

An Angkor hospitality complex is being built on the site of the 20th century Air France Hotel along the western moat of Angkor Wat.

The project includes a rest area, shops and restaurants – but no hotel, as early reports previously indicated.

“During the 20th century there was a hotel there under French rule,” Apsara Authority spokesperson Long Kosal said, “but this hotel is now gone. Our current project has nothing to do with accommodation.”

“It is not a commercial complex, and it will never be,” Mr. Long explained. “It is a welcome center. In French they call it ‘parvis.’ It will be a welcome space in which there will be an information center, a rest area, parking, bathrooms, some souvenir shops and local restaurants; a sort of integrated area where all hospitality would be provided.”

Full story here.

Myanmar begins inventorying Bagan temples – and starting to find new ones already

An inventory of the pagodas in Bagan is underway as part of its bid to be listed as a world heritage site. Several new pagodas have already been discovered!

Bagan_2159p

Bagan Inventory Reveals New Pagodas
The Frontier, 19 January 2016

Bagan counts pagodas
TTR Weekly, 20 January 2016

Several new pagoda sites have been unearthed in Bagan during an archaeological inventory of the town’s ancient temples for a World Heritage List application, media reports said Tuesday.

The pagoda inventory is due to be concluded by February, as part of Myanmar’s bid to have Bagan listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, possibly by 2017, the Global New Light of Myanmar reported.

So far more than 800 pagodas have been accounted for in just two of Bagan’s 11 administrative zones, Archaeology and National Museum Department deputy director general U Thein Lwin told the state-run daily.

Full story here and here.

Harihara statue reunited after French museum returns head

The Musee Guimet returns the head of a Harihara, a amalgam of the gods Siva and Vishnu, which was reunited at a ceremony at the National Museum in Phnom Penh last week. Dr Alison Carter discusses more about the significance of the Harihara in a blog post here.

Statue’s Head, Body Reunited After Generations
The Cambodia Daily, 22 January 2016

Statue head reunited with body
Phnom Penh Post, 22 January 2016

Hindu god statue’s head returns to Cambodia
BBC News, 21 January 2016

France returns head of Hindu statue taken from Cambodia 130 years ago
AP, via CTV news, 21 January 2016

French museum returns looted head of Hindu god statue to Cambodia
AFP, via Straits Times, 19 January 2016

The head and body of a seventh-century Khmer statue were at last reunited on Thursday in Phnom Penh after an international agreement was brokered that allowed the head to be brought home to Cambodia from Paris, where it had spent the last 126 years.

After over a decade of negotiations that involved France’s Ministry of Culture and Cambodia’s Council of Ministers, the head was formally set on the body during a ceremony at the National Museum, where the complete statue will now reside.

Full story here.

Job posting: Research associate at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research

The McDonald Institute at Cambridge University has an open position for a three year postdoc:

Research Associate – University of Cambridge, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research

The McDonald Institute invites applications for the first Renfrew Fellowship in Archaeology. Named in honour of the Institute’s founding Director, Professor Colin Renfrew, the three-year postdoctoral Fellowship will consist of a stipend at Research Associate level (£28,982 – £37,768). Homerton, Cambridge’s newest and largest College, has agreed to partner the McDonald Institute for this first Renfrew Fellowship (as a College Junior Research Fellowship) and will further offer either free accommodation at the College or £6000 p.a. for Fellows who wish to live out, plus associated benefits. In addition, the Fellow will be entitled to up to £2000 p.a. research expenses (for conference attendance, travel for training, etc.) and the opportunity to apply through open competition for up to £5000 p.a. for fieldwork or other research funds from the D. M. McDonald Grants and Awards Fund. The successful applicant will take up the Fellowship on 1 October 2016 or as soon as possible thereafter.

More application details here.

New Angkor museum a symbol of good relations with North Korea

Another story about the newly-opened museum in Siem Reap run by North Korea. It looks like the museum also has North Korean staff.

Mysterious North Korean museum opens in Cambodia
Japan Times, 18 January 2016

Yit Chandaroat, deputy chief of the museum, said he could see no other reason than seizing a business opportunity, citing the ever-increasing flow of foreign tourists visiting the Angkor Wat temple complex located nearby.

However, he did not rule out North Korea having the diplomatic motive of seeking to maintain its good ties with Cambodia and increase its footprint in Siem Reap well beyond two restaurants named Pyongyang.

The museum may also serve to promote North Korea’s identity, with visitors able to talk to North Korean women working inside, view paintings that depict the North’s mountain views and sample its ginseng tea.

According to Yit Chandaroat, more than 20 North Korean staffers are working there, including a dozen females.

Full story here.

Stone tools push the human occupation of Sulawesi back by 60,000 years

The discovery of stone tools from Sulawesi date to 118,000 years ago – possibly by the so-called hobbits – predate what is thought to be the earliest arrival of humans into Southeast Asia 50,000 – 60,000 years ago.

Stone tools dating to 118,000 years from Sulawesi. Source: ABC News 20160114
Stone tools dating to 118,000 years from Sulawesi. Source: ABC News 20160114

Earliest hominin occupation of Sulawesi, Indonesia
Gerrit D. van den Bergh, Bo Li, Adam Brumm, Rainer Grün, Dida Yurnaldi, Mark W. Moore, Iwan Kurniawan, Ruly Setiawan, Fachroel Aziz, Richard G. Roberts, Suyono, Michael Storey, Erick Setiabudi & Michael J. Morwood
Nature, doi:10.1038/nature16448

A group of mysterious humans left these tools in Indonesia over 118,000 years ago
Ars Technica, 15 January 2016

Stone tools found on Sulawesi in Indonesia ‘made by ancient humans at least 118,000 years ago
ABC News, 14 January 2016

‘Hobbit’ gets a neighbor: Stone tools hint at archaic human presence
CS Monitor, 14 January 2016

Ancient tools show how mysterious ‘Hobbit’ occupied Indonesian island
Reuters, via Ottowa Sun, 13 January 2016

Sulawesi is the largest and oldest island within Wallacea, a vast zone of oceanic islands separating continental Asia from the Pleistocene landmass of Australia and Papua (Sahul). By one million years ago an unknown hominin lineage had colonized Flores immediately to the south1, and by about 50 thousand years ago, modern humans (Homo sapiens) had crossed to Sahul2, 3. On the basis of position, oceanic currents and biogeographical context, Sulawesi probably played a pivotal part in these dispersals4. Uranium-series dating of speleothem deposits associated with rock art in the limestone karst region of Maros in southwest Sulawesi has revealed that humans were living on the island at least 40 thousand years ago (ref. 5). Here we report new excavations at Talepu in the Walanae Basin northeast of Maros, where in situ stone artefacts associated with fossil remains of megafauna (Bubalus sp., Stegodon and Celebochoerus) have been recovered from stratified deposits that accumulated from before 200 thousand years ago until about 100 thousand years ago. Our findings suggest that Sulawesi, like Flores, was host to a long-established population of archaic hominins, the ancestral origins and taxonomic status of which remain elusive.

Article can be found here.

Excavations at Longvek reveal life in Cambodia’s former capital

Another piece of research looking at post-Angkoran history, recent excavations at Longvek, which was the capital after Angkor and before Phnom Penh.

Excavations at Longvek. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160112
Excavations at Longvek. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160112

Discoveries at former capital could change old perceptions
Phnom Penh Post, 12 January 2016

The first archaeological excavations at the site of the ancient Cambodian capital of Longvek have unearthed physical evidence that the city was a regional trading hub, helping dispel historical notions that Cambodia underwent centuries of “dark ages” between the Angkorian and the modern era.

Located less than 50 kilometres from Phnom Penh in present-day Kampong Chhnang province, Longvek was the Cambodian capital for almost 200 years following the sack of Angkor by the Siamese in 1431.

During excavations last month, a joint team of archaeologists discovered porcelain from as far away as China and Japan in the foundations of Longvek’s ancient palace, along with ruins of substantial earthen walls and a bronze workshop.

“Archeologists, historians, tourists and the general public – everyone tends to focus on Angkor’s golden age, and when you go to Angkor you can see the reason why,” said Dr Martin Polkinghorne, a research fellow at Flinders University in Australia who is part of a joint team composed of Cambodia’s Ministry of Culture, Flinders and Japan’s Nara Institute.

Full story here.

14,000 artefacts recovered from Nanhai No. 1

Chinese archaeologists report that over 14,00 artefacts have so far been recovered from the Nanhai No. 1, a Song Dynasty era ship that was recovered from the South China Sea.

Hoard of relics salvaged from ancient Chinese ship
Business Standard, 10 January 2016

Ancient Chinese ship yields hoards of relics
The Hindu, 10 January 2016

China: 14,000 gold, silver and copper relics recovered from 800-year-old shipwreck
International Business Times, 11 January 2016

14,000 relics recovered from ancient Chinese ship
CNTV.cn, 12 January 2016

More than 14,000 relics have been retrieved from an ancient cargo ship after it was salvaged from a depth of 30 metres below the surface of the South China Sea in late 2007, Chinese archaeologists said on Saturday.

Most of the relics are porcelain products, such as pots, bottles, bowls and plates produced by then famous kilns in places now known as Jiangxi, Fujian and Zhejiang, said Liu Chengji, deputy head of the Guangdong Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, Xinhua reported.

As of January 5, archaeologists have also excavated hundreds of gold, silver and copper relics and about 17,000 copper coins.

Full story here.