The Cambodian Museum of Culture has just published a book of stolen antiquities from the Battambang museum, a move which will likely assist in the future repatriation of artefacts if they show up in the art market.
The Ministry of Culture released a book on Monday of about 68 Khmer sculptures that were stolen from museums in Battambang City during decades of war and conflict, and intends to use the publication in a global search to recover the artifacts.
The result of a painstaking investigation by a restoration team from the National Museum assisted by the French School of the Far East (EFEO), the book proves that, until the early 1970s, the sculptures were at the Battambang Provincial Museum or the Wat Po Veal Museum.
“We want, first of all, to alert the owners of these pieces that what they have is illegally owned: This belongs to the national inventory of Cambodia,” said Anne Lemaistre, country representative for Unesco, which supported the book project.
Villagers embarked on a treasure hunt for gold when a bead was found in a rice field in Cambodia’s Takeo province. Authorities had to step in to protect the area, which had archaeological significance due to its proximity to Angkor Borei.
Residents in Takeo province’s Angkor village have flocked to look for gold in a rice field behind the village after a villager tending cows found a gold bead, though authorities have cautioned against the gold rush, saying the area has archaeological significance.
Nob Dol, chief of Prek Phtorl commune, said a mass of villagers rushed to search for gold after the villager found the bead near a dike on his way home on Thursday.
“As I’ve heard, about seven people were lucky to find small beads of gold; some small, some big,” he said. “Some said they found up to [150 grams] of gold. There was also news that some found gold worth $1,000 to $2,000, but I did not see that.”
Officials from the provincial department of culture and fine arts went to the site and asked people to stop digging the field, Dol said. The owner of the rice field also sought help from authorities to halt the digging.
The North Korean Angkor Panorama Museum opened last December but is not receiving many visitors. Could it be because at $15, one might as well pay a little bit more and see the actual ruins a few minutes down the road?
Few visit North Korea-funded Cambodian museum [Link no longer active]
AP, via NZ Herald, 02 June 2016
A North Korean-funded panorama museum in the cultural hub of Siem Reap is getting few visitors.
The Angkor Panorama Museum, reported to have cost US$24 million ($35.2 million) to build, is just minutes away from the historic Angkor Wat temple complex, which receives millions of tourists each year according to Apsara Authority, the government agency responsible for the archaeological site.
However, on Monday there were few visitors to be seen, while museum director Yit Chandaroat admitted the tourist attraction was yet to pull in large crowds since its opening in December.
A new paper in PNAS describes the first tangible evidence that Madagascar was colonised by Southeast Asians who probably spoke an Austronesian language. Charred rice and mung beans found in Madagascar are slightly older than their first appearance in East Africa.
The Austronesian settlement of the remote island of Madagascar remains one of the great puzzles of Indo-Pacific prehistory. Although linguistic, ethnographic, and genetic evidence points clearly to a colonization of Madagascar by Austronesian language-speaking people from Island Southeast Asia, decades of archaeological research have failed to locate evidence for a Southeast Asian signature in the island’s early material record. Here, we present new archaeobotanical data that show that Southeast Asian settlers brought Asian crops with them when they settled in Africa. These crops provide the first, to our knowledge, reliable archaeological window into the Southeast Asian colonization of Madagascar. They additionally suggest that initial Southeast Asian settlement in Africa was not limited to Madagascar, but also extended to the Comoros. Archaeobotanical data may support a model of indirect Austronesian colonization of Madagascar from the Comoros and/or elsewhere in eastern Africa.
Joyce White was an atheist as a graduate student and intent on being an archaeologist in Europe, something she decided when she was about 15 and saw cemetery excavations at medieval churches in England.
During a slide presentation of a professor’s excavation in Thailand, one image captivated her for reasons she still can’t quite explain. The photo was of a field he crossed en route to the site. Pack animals carrying his equipment rested in the field, which ended in a dark tropical forest.
“It was a vivid experience. I saw myself in that slide,” she says. “There was a compelling aesthetic draw of some sort.” She abandoned plans to work in Europe in favor of Southeast Asia. It was a leap. Her professor discouraged her, citing huge cultural and physical obstacles for a woman archaeologist in Thailand.
A report last month said that the National Heritage Board of Singapore is conducting a study to address the issue of ownership of archaeological material, especially that found in private property which is a legal grey area in Singapore.
A new paper in the Journal of Archaeological Science has been grabbing the headlines in the last few days: the first insights from the Lidar acquisition of Angkor. It is the most extensive use of Lidar in an archaeological context to date, which brings to greater clarity the urban sprawl of Phnom Kulen, Banteay Chhmar, the Preah Khan of Kompong Svay, Sambor Prei Kuk, Longvek and Oudong. Combined with the earlier acquisition of the core Angkor area in 2012, the Lidar data has uncovered a tremendous amount of information about settlement patterns in these areas.
The data gathered presents a big-picture view of several themes of interest: population flows, urban centres, water management and collapse, and provides starting points for many of these future lines of inquiry. To be sure, the patterns in landscape and features uncovered by the Lidar is spectacular, but many of these features will need to be ‘ground-truthed’ and investigated in real life. (Alison has a good commentary about the potentials and limitations of the Lidar data). All in all, a very exciting start to what is surely a new phase of archaeological understanding of Angkor, and hopefully one with repercussions to the rest of the region as well!
Early Khmer societies developed extensive settlement complexes that were largely made of non-durable materials. These fragile urban areas perished many centuries ago, and thus a century and a half of scholarly research has focussed on the more durable components of Khmer culture, in particular the famous temples and the texts and works of art that are normally found within them. In recent years however there has been a considerable effort to broaden the perspective beyond conventional approaches to Khmer history and archaeology. Remarkable advances have been made in the domain of remote sensing and archaeological mapping, including the application of advanced geospatial techniques such as airborne laser scanning within studies of heritage landscapes at Angkor and beyond. This article describes the most recent applications of the technology in Cambodia, including the results of a newly-completed campaign of airborne laser scanning in 2015—the most extensive acquisition ever undertaken by an archaeological project—and underscores the importance of using these methods as part of a problem-oriented research program that speaks to broader issues within history and archaeology.
Archaeologists in Cambodia have found multiple, previously undocumented medieval cities not far from the ancient temple city of Angkor Wat, the Guardian can reveal, in groundbreaking discoveries that promise to upend key assumptions about south-east Asia’s history.
The Australian archaeologist Dr Damian Evans, whose findings will be published in the Journal of Archaeological Science on Monday, will announce that cutting-edge airborne laser scanning technology has revealed multiple cities between 900 and 1,400 years old beneath the tropical forest floor, some of which rival the size of Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh.
Old Kedah, or Kedah Tua in Malay, and the archaeological findings of the Bujang Valley in northern Peninsular Malaysia were the focus of a local festival held last month. The events included an international conference, and from the news reports two themes seem apparent: the disagreement on whether the ruins of the Bujang Valley represent an animist or Hindu-Buddhist tradition, and the news that the remains of the Hindu temples that have previously been uncovered in the valley will not be nominated and protected under Unesco World Heritage. There’s a lot of subtext to read between the news reports, but it seems there is an attempt to downplay the influence of Hinduism and Buddhism in the Bujang Valley sites.
Cambodia and Japan began Monday a four-year project to restore the ruined western causeway at Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple.
Speaking at the launch of the Angkor Wat restoration project, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An said “today’s event reflects the robust spirit of international cooperation and solidarity in the protection, safeguarding and conservation of the heritage of humanity in accordance with the motto ‘heritage for all, all for heritage’.”
Sok An said Japan is playing a significant role in the process, providing financial and technical supports to Cambodia, especially for the conservation and restoration of Bayon Temple and causeway at Angkor Wat, which is the main gateway to the site.