Alarm raised over carpark construction in the Banaue terraces

A controversial parking lot being constructed near the Banaue rice terraces is being called out by the head of ICOMOS in South Korea as being unsightly.

Source: Philippine Inquirer 20160222
Source: Philippine Inquirer 20160222

Unesco experts say 7-story parking building in Ifugao mars sightline of Banaue Terraces
Philippine Inquirer, 22 February 2016

The head of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (Icomos) in South Korea has expressed misgivings over the construction of a seven-story parking building in Ifugao, which she said might mar the already scarred sightline of the Banaue town center in Ifugao province.

Icomos is an advisory body of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco)

Rii Hae Un, a professor at the Department of Geography of Dongguk University in Seoul, also echoes her group’s concern over the uncontrolled development on the Ifugao Rice Terraces.

Full story here.

Recent research on Bronze Age Myanmar presented

The recent work of the Mission Archéologique Française au Myanmar on excavations investigating the Bronze Age of the Sagaing Region were presented last month in Yangon.

Dr Pryce presenting on the Bronze Age of the Sagaing region. Source: Myanmar Times 20160225
Dr Pryce presenting on the Bronze Age of the Sagaing region. Source: Myanmar Times 20160225

Bronze Age site excavated in Sagaing Region
Myanmar Times, 25 February 2016

Last week, on February 17, Pryce, director of Mission Archéologique Française au Myanmar (MAFM) who leads the mission, and his team presented their findings at the French Institute in Yangon. Their research, conducted from 2014 to 2016, has provided a unique look into life in the Nyaung’gan Bronze Age.

“Bronze Age settlements in Southeast Asia are very rare. There are maybe four in Thailand and a couple in southern Vietnam. It seems that the settlement sites in Oakaie village are very big,” Pryce said.

Excavations to the south of Oakaie village in Butalin township in Sagaing Region have indentified where Bronze Age people lived and shows that many of them worked in the production of stone adzes, beads and bracelets.

Pryce said the findings should be a source of proud for the people for Myanmar and that they allow for the recovery of valuable information about the ways of life of our ancestors.

Full story here.

South Korea provides aid to Cambodia to restore artefacts

South Korea donates over US$100,000 in resources to help Cambodia in artefact restoration.

Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160224
Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160224

South Korea supplies equipment for artefact restoration
Phnom Penh Post, 24 February 2016

Cambodia on Monday received $124,000 worth of resources from South Korea to speed up the process of restoring ancient artefacts.

The donation to Cambodia’s department of the protection and preservation of antiquities included technological equipment valued at about $100,000, said Thai Norak Sathya, spokesman of Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts.

The money will go to the National Museum of Cambodia in Phnom Penh and the Angkor archaeological park in Siem Reap, he said. Each site received about $50,000 worth of devices to help restore artefacts stored at both locations.

Full story here.

Mrauk-U restoration fraught with problems

A news report from the Irrawaddy highlights various problems with a recent campaign to restore the monuments of Mrauk-U in western Myanmar: improper restoration techniques, unauthorised construction and mismanagement of funds.

Monuments in Mrauk-U improperly restored. Source: The Irrawaddy 20160224
Monuments in Mrauk-U improperly restored. Source: The Irrawaddy 20160224

The Million Dollar Mismanagement of Mrauk U
The Irrawady, 24 February 2016

At Mrauk U, Living Heritage and Crumbling Splendor in Need of Conservation
The Irrawady, 26 February 2016

At Mrauk U, Living Heritage and Crumbling Splendor in Need of Conservation
The Irrawady, 26 February 2016

Throughout outgoing President Thein Sein’s term, the Arakan State government spent 1.5 billion kyats (over US$1.2 million) to preserve the remnants of the ancient Arakanese Mrauk U kingdom, according to the state’s annual audit report.

Yet some officials connected with the project allege that it has been fraught with mismanagement. Khin Than, chairperson of Mrauk U-based Heritage Trust, claims that halls within two famous temple complexes—the Ko-thaung and Shite-thaung pagodas—were damaged by government contractors’ negligence. New shrines were built alongside originals, she added—constructed out of concrete and sandstone.

Archaeologists and scholars of Mrauk U, which boasts more than 1,500 documented temples, have advocated for its classification as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but fear that unscrupulous renovation of the ancient locale will put such an achievement further from reach.

Full story here and here.

The short-lived Bagan climbing ban

A small clash last week between the Ministry of Culture and the tourism industry in Myanmar when the former abruptly banned the climbing of all temples in Bagan. This decision was quickly reversed after it was met with vocal opposition from many parties.

Tourism in Bagan. Source: Myanmar Times 20160225
Tourism in Bagan. Source: Myanmar Times 20160225

Bagan ban: Myanmar stops tourists scaling prized pagodas
AFP, via Yahoo News, 22 February 2016

Tourism ministry joins fight against Bagan ban
Myanmar Times, 24 February 2016

Myanmar backpedals on Bagan climbing ban
AFP, via Channel NewsAsia, 24 February 2016

Ministry backflips on Bagan pagoda ban
Myanmar Times, 25 February 2016

The Ministry of Culture has backpedalled on a decision to ban visitors from ascending pagodas in Bagan.

The edict, announced on February 22, prompted criticism from the tourism industry as well as from within the ministry. In barely 24 hours the ministry clarified its position, saying visitors would be banned from ascending all but five pagodas – its previous policy.

The ministry took the unpopular original decision because a medical company had conducted a cultural show on Pyathagyi Pagoda in the second week of February. It was to come into effect on March 1.

Priest defies orders and destroys 18th century church ruin with construction

A priest in Philippines’ Iloilo province is relieved of his duties when he authorised construction on the ruins of an archaeologically significant ruin of an 18th century church, against the orders of the local bishop and the National Museum of the Philippines.

18th century church in Aranguel. Source: Philippine Inquirer 20160222
18th century church in Aranguel. Source: Philippine Inquirer 20160222

Capiz priest defies bishop, National Museum; builds concrete chapel on archaeological site
Inquirer, 22 February 2016

Parish priest in Iloilo relieved for allowing ‘unauthorized’ digging at Catholic cemetery
Inquirer, 28 February 2016

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Even without proper permits, the parish priest of President Roxas town in Capiz province has continued to build a chapel inside the ruins of an 18th-century church in Barangay Aranguel, a former town founded by the Augustinians in 1704.

The chapel construction started in 2014 and is the project of the parish priest, Monsignor Alden Boliver. It has been ordered stopped by the National Museum and the Archdiocese of Capiz.

Human bones were recovered after the foundation was dug in 2014, prompting local officials to call the National Museum for an archaeological investigation in the area.

National Museum assistant director and osteologist Angel Bautista and his team recovered trade ware and ceramic shards dating back to the Sung and Ming dynasties.

“These archaeological materials are significant because these will provide insights into the earlier period of human occupation in the area. Furthermore, the walls of the old church are still intact and should be protected for posterity,” said a National Museum report published on its website in 2014.

Full stories here and here.

Workshop: The Heritage of Ancient and Urban Sites

For readers in Singapore, the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre is holding a two-day seminar on the intersection between cultural heritage and public participation.

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The workshop will see presentations from Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Singapore. Register by emailing nscevents@iseas.edu.sg