Heritage education for kids

An article on Heritage Watch’s excellent school programmes in Cambodia, teaching schoolkids the value of heritage as an investment in the future protection of sites.

Students learning at Banteay Chhmar. Source: Cambodia Daily 20160713
Students learning at Banteay Chhmar. Source: Cambodia Daily 20160713

Children—A New Defense Against Looting?
Cambodia Daily, 13 July 2016

For years, archaeologists excavating pre-Angkorian sites in Banteay Meanchey province unsuccessfully attempted to stop the looting of the area’s temples and buried treasures.

Heritage Watch, a group created to protect the country’s archaeological and historical sites, determined that education was the remedy. So they trained villagers and monks living near the sites, as well as commune and community leaders, government officials and teachers.

Full story here.

A history of local activism at Borobodur

Borobudur is Indonesia’s most famous ancient temple site and also a Unesco World Heritage site. This story tells an inside history of how local communities have lobbied to protect the site from outside commercial interests.

Borobudur. Source: Inside Indonesia Jul-Sep 2016
Borobudur. Source: Inside Indonesia Jul-Sep 2016

The hidden story of Borobudur
Inside Indonesia, Jul-Sep 2016

The local resistance movement, whose lobbying against the mall was eventually successful, used not only conventional demonstrations, such as rallies, but also protests in the form of rituals and art performances. This was to show the government that it was time to stop exploiting Borobudur for commercial purposes and instead nurture the Borobudur that had provided local residents with meaning and livelihoods. Rituals and art performances are an act of giving. Unlike the economically motivated protests in which people demanded their share of the profits gained from treating the temple as a commodity, these cultural protestors voluntarily gave their money, energy and time to maintain the spiritual and social importance of Borobudur. In the controversial arena of cultural heritage management, local groups with strong support are making a robust case: it is time to give the spiritual and ethical basis of Borobudur the respect and attention it deserves.

Full story here.

Enforcement of appropriate clothing at Angkor

Last month a clothing restriction was enforced in Angkor to prevent inappropriately dressed tourists from entering the temple grounds.

Cambodia to ban tourists wearing “revealing clothes” to visit famed Angkor
Xinhua, 05 July 2016

Angkor Wat in Cambodia dress code: Ban on scantily clad tourists
The Border Mail, 13 July 2016

Tourists wearing “revealing clothes” will be barred from visiting Cambodia’s famed Angkor archeological park from August 4, an official said on Tuesday.

Long Kosal, deputy chief of the communications department of the Apsara Authority, which manages the ancient site, said that tourists should wear proper clothes when they buy tickets for visiting the Angkor archeological park, otherwise ticket-sellers will not sell them the tickets.

“We will not allow any tourists wearing revealing clothes to visit the Angkor archeological park from August 4, 2016,” he told Xinhua. “Wearing revealing clothes offends Cambodian custom, tradition, and women’s dignity.”

Full stories here and here.

Calls for Malaysian history books to include references to Old Kedah

History advocates in Malaysia are campaigning for the inclusion of references to Old Kedah, discovered through archaeological excavations, into history textbooks.

Call to include Old Kedah civilisation in history textbooks
Free Malaysia Today, 05 July 2016

New facts on Old Kedah, which has been declared as the earliest and oldest civilisation in Southeast Asia, should be immediately included in history books used as textbooks in schools.

Chairman of the Malaysian Historical Society Kedah branch, Prof Dr Wan Shamsuddin Mohd Yusof said the information was necessary so the young generation could be aware of the existence of the more than 2,000 year-old treasure at the Sungai Batu Archaeology Complex.

“This is history, not a myth, or merely a legend, but something that should be the pride of Malaysians, that we have the oldest civilisation in Southeast Asia,” he told Bernama.

On May 23, the Sungai Batu Archaeology Complex was declared the earliest and oldest civilisation in this region and five archaeologists, representing five main civilisations in the world, namely Mesopotamia, Indus, Mesoamerica, China and Greek-Rome, signed the declaration plaque.

Full story here.

The household archaeology of Angkor Wat

Dr Alison Carter’s article for the Khmer Times on her work on household archaeology at Angkor Wat.

Excavations at Angkor Wat. Source: Khmer Times 20160707
Excavations at Angkor Wat. Source: Khmer Times 20160707

Household Archaeology at Angkor Wat
Khmer Times, 07 July 2016

When you picture Angkor Wat, you might think of the imposing and elegant temple surrounded by a thick forest of trees. However, archaeologists now know that when Angkor Wat was built, it was surrounded by a series of mounds that are likely places where people lived.

Angkor Wat is just one temple in the Angkorian Empire, the heart of which covered an area of 1,000 square kilometers and may have contained a population of as many as 750,000 people. Investigating the question of where Angkorian people lived is one focus of the Greater Angkor Project (GAP), a collaborative research program between the University of Sydney and the APSARA Authority, directed by Dr. Roland Fletcher.

One way to begin understanding the lives of the non-elite members of Angkor is by excavating their households. Through excavations of their living spaces, archaeologists can understand the daily practices of people in the past. This kind of work can also tell us more about the variation between different households, communities and settlements, as well as the differences between elites and non-elites. In this way, we can come to understand Angkorian society from the ground up.

Full story here.

Unesco listing for Phnom Kulen spells unease for residents

A recent announcement to include Phnom Kulen in the Angkor World Heritage property means an uncertain future for the some 300 people who live on the mountain.

Communities on Phnom Kulen. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160705
Communities on Phnom Kulen. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160705

UNESCO push will clear villagers off of Kulen Mountain
Phnom Penh Post, 05 July 2016

Hundreds of villagers living on Siem Reap’s historic Phnom Kulen are reeling after the government announced they would be relocated as part of a scheme to secure a UNESCO World Heritage Listing for the site.

Poung Lyna, the head of the Siem Reap environment department, yesterday confirmed the news villagers received over the weekend. “About 300 families, most of which are army and newcomers’ families who live near the Preah Ang Thom area on Kulen Mountain, will be relocated to a new place soon as their presence is affecting the environment of the national park,” Lyna said.

However, he added that those who had “lived there a long time” – upwards of 20 years – would not be moved. But uncertainty shrouds the ministry’s plans, with Lyna admitting he did not know when the villagers would be moved, or to where. However, he claimed it would be near their former homes.

“They will maybe be moved to the foot of the mountain, and we might give them a piece of land larger than what they currently have,” he said, making no mention of monetary compensation. “We will move their houses, but we will keep their businesses on the mountain untouched.”

Full story here.

Profile on Dr Alison Carter

The Phnom Penh Post’s feature on Dr Alison Carter, a personal friend of mine, and her work in household archaeology in Cambodia.

Dr Alison Carter. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160704
Dr Alison Carter. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160704

Digging beneath the surface
Phnom Penh Post, 04 July 2016

For many expats, Cambodia is no more than another country to be ticked off the list of places to spend two years before moving on to the next posting. But that’s not the case for archaeologist Dr. Alison Carter.

Currently based in Siem Reap, American Dr. Carter is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

She first came to Cambodia in 2005 to work with the Lower Mekong Archaeological Project at Angkor Borei in Takeo Province, and fell in love with the country.

“My first trip here in 2005, I spoke no Khmer and knew very little about the country and yet the people I met were incredibly generous with their time and energy. They were willing to work with me and so I kept returning.”

Full story here.

Free entry in the National Museum of the Philippines

As of 1 July, admission to the National Museum of the Philippines is free for all nationalities.

Entrance to the National Museum now ‘permanently’ free
Rappler, 30 June 2016

National Museum admission now free – permanently
Philippine News Agency, via Interaksyon, 01 July 2016

– It’s been a day of new beginnings as the nation’s new leaders assumed of office on June 30, Thursday, but in addition to the good vibes, the National Museum has announced that entrance is “permanently free of charge for all visitors, Filipino or foreign, to its museums nationwide.

The Board of Trustees of the National Museum is implementing a new policy, effective by July 1, “in order to build upon signi涁ㄗcant spikes in viewership, especially among younger Filipinos, that have been observed in 2013-2015 and to date in 2016,” it said in a Facebook post

Full story here.

Bali’s first mosque

A feature on the oldest mosque in Bali, believed to be established during the Majapahit period.

Bali's oldest mosque in Klungkung. Source: Jakarta Post 20160630
Bali’s oldest mosque in Klungkung. Source: Jakarta Post 20160630

The earliest mosque on the Island of the Gods
Jakarta Post, 30 June 2016

Rusiah and other local residents believe that their ancestors were a group of 40 courtiers sent by King
Hayam Wuruk from the Majapahit Kingdom and that they were among East Java’s first Muslim converts.

Led by the only woman in the group, Dewi Fatima, the 40 converts formed an entourage for Gelgel’s king, I Ketut Nglisir, following his visit to Majapahit.

Village head Sahidin claims he is the direct descendant of those 40 courtiers, like many others in the village.

“The Gelgel king was invited to visit Majapahit in East Java. For his return journey, Hayam Wuruk ordered 40 Muslims from East Java to escort the king […] When they arrived here, because of their good behavior toward the king and his kingdom, they were invited to stay,” said Sahidin.

King Nglisir then awarded the new Islamic community several hectares of land just 500 meters to the south of his palace in Gelgel.

Full story here.

Oldest time capsule found in Singapore

A restoration project at Singapore’s oldest Catholic church has uncovered a 173-year-old time capsule, containing artefacts from the 19th century.

Cathedral of the Good Shepherd in Singapore. Source: Straits Times 20160630
Cathedral of the Good Shepherd in Singapore. Source: Straits Times 20160630

173-year-old time capsule unearthed at Singapore’s oldest Catholic church
Straits Times, 30 June 2016

A 173-year-old time capsule and granite foundation stone of the country’s oldest Catholic church have been unearthed, in what experts describe as a “rare discovery”.

Contractors found the hitherto missing capsule and foundation stone earlier this year while restoring the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd along Queen Street.

The time capsule – possibly the oldest one found here – comprises publications such as a prayer booklet and newspapers from 1843, as well as 24 international 18th- and 19th-century coins and tokens. A foundation stone, or cornerstone, is the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation.

Full story here.