Bagan quake roundup

On August 24, a magnitude 6.8 earthquake hit central Myanmar, which affected over 400 of the temples in Bagan causing structural damage and collapse in some cases. There were relatively little human fatalities, fortunately.

Damage to Sulamani temple in Bagan. Source: BBC
Damage to Sulamani temple in Bagan. Source: BBC

Myanmar earthquake kills three, damages scores of ancient temples [Link no longer active]
Channel NewsAsia, 24 August 2016

Myanmar earthquake: One dead and temples damaged
BBC, 24 August 2016

Myanmar Quake Damages at Least 185 Bagan Pagodas
AP, via Wall Street Journal, 24 August 2016

Myanmar earthquake harms pagodas in ancient city of Bagan
NewsNation, 24 August 2016

Powerful quake kills at least three, damages Bagan pagodas
Myanmar Times, 25 August 2016

Famous Bagan pagodas damaged
AFP, via The Tribune, 25 August 2016

Myanmar earthquake: Images from Bagan historic sites
BBC, 25 August 2016

Bagan After the Quake: Concerns Over Manhandling of Debris
The Irrawady, 25 August 2016

Myanmar Earthquake Damages Bagan Temples [Link no longer active]
AP, via US News, 25 August 2016

Than Zaw Oo: ‘A Natural Disaster Can’t Devalue Bagan’s Heritage’
The Irrawady, 25 August 2016

Director-General of UNESCO expresses solidarity with the people of Myanmar after earthquake in Bagan
Unesco, 26 August 2016

Myanmar President Visits Bagan to Survey Quake-Damaged Pagodas
RFA, via Malaysia Sun, 26 August 2016

Research teams assesses Bagan damage
The Nation, 26 August 2016

Don’t rush Bagan fixes: state counsellor
Myanmar Times, 26 August 2016

Quake destroys Bagan murals
Eleven Myanmar, 28 August 2016

Myanmar Earthquake Rattles Temples of Bagan
Artnet News, 29 August 2016

Nearly 400 Bagan pagodas damaged by earthquake: govt
Myanmar Times, 29 August 2016

Volunteers in Bagan Trained in Earthquake Recovery
The Irrawady, 29 August 2016

Damaged pagodas covered in quake-hit Bagan
Myanmar Times, 01 September 2016

Volunteers Help Rebuild Bagan
Myanmore, 02 September 2016

Bagan earthquake: Is there a silver lining for Myanmar?
BBC, 08 September 2016

Prohibited Bagan pagodas named
Eleven Myanmar, 09 September 2016

The Trouble With Temple Restoration in Myanmar
The Diplomat, 26 September 2016

Two Temples in Bagan Collapse Two Months After Earthquake
The Irrawady, 27 October 2016

Yamashita’s gold as a modern take on an old tale

A new paper in the Journal of Folklore Research argues that the legend of Yamashita’s gold, a source of many a treasure-hunting expedition in the Philippines – is a modern iteration of a post-colonial longing for hope and prosperity.

Excavating a Hidden Bell Story from the Philippines: A Revised Narrative of Cultural-Linguistic Loss and Recuperation
Journal of Folklore Research
Vol. 53, No. 2 (May/August 2016), pp. 86-113

Yamashita’s gold has been found and it’s not what you think
Rappler, 07 August 2016

The hunt for war treasure in the Philippines has hidden meanings
Science Daily, 10 August 2016

Stories of hidden valuable artifacts are told in many parts of the Philippines. One such tale is of a church bell, concealed to prevent theft but now beyond reach (Motif V115.1.3, Sunken church bell cannot be raised). Typically, these stories are transmitted orally. However the small Eskaya community of southeast Bohol maintains a written version of a lost-bell tale included in a larger intergenerational archive of hand-copied literature. Since the early 1980s, the Eskaya have been an object of media interest for having consciously created their own “indigenous” language, writing system, and literary tradition. This paper examines the meanings of the Eskaya variant of the lostbell story in the context of community aspirations for recognition as an indigenous minority. In the Eskaya version, pre-Hispanic native faith is valorized over the corrupted Christianity introduced by Spain. The deliberately concealed church bell and its promised future retrieval recapitulates wider postcolonial narratives of cultural-linguistic suppression and revitalization, underscoring the agency of Eskaya people in their retrieval (or reinvention) of a pre-colonial indigenous identity.

Paper here.

Angkor admission prices to rise next year

Visitors to Angkor Wat will expect to pay about twice as much from next year as a new pricing plan comes into effect in February.

Angkor Wat entrance fee to double
The Telegraph, 05 August 2016

Angkor temple entrance fee to almost double in February
AP, via KSL.com, 05 August 2016

Angkor to hike entrance fees
TTR Weekly, 08 August 2016

Angkor Wat ticket price hike could hurt visitor numbers: experts
Phnom Penh Post, 08 August 2016

Angkor Wat Ticket Prices Set to Rise After Government Takeover
Cambodia Daily, 08 August 2016

Stolen Buriram lintel believed found in San Francisco

A lintel that was stolen from an Angkorian temple in Thailand’s Buriram province is believed to be found in a museum at San Francisco.

Lintel believed to be stolen from Buriram province. Source: Bangkok Post 20160804
Lintel believed to be stolen from Buriram province. Source: Bangkok Post 20160804

Priceless Buri Ram lintel found in San Francisco
Bangkok Post, 04 August 2016

A Buri Ram-based conservation group has kick-started a campaign to press for the return of a “lintel”, a decorative object above a gate, believed to have been smuggled out of Thailand decades ago.

Tanongsak Harnwong, leader of Samnuek 300 Ong conservation group, said the pre-Angkorean lintel, which was made of white sandstone in the Kleang-Baphuon style and featured Lord Yama, or the god of death, surrounded by flowers, was on exhibition at the Chong Moon Lee museum in San Francisco. It was believed to have been stolen from Nong Hong temple in Buri Ram’s Non Dindaeng district some 50 years ago.

He said the group obtained a photo of the lintel and compared it with one taken by the late archaeologist Manit Vallibhotama, who took the photo of the famous Vishnu reclining on the Serpent Ananta lintel at Phanom Rung sanctuary, and found the two were identical. “They look like the same item,” said the businessman-turned-conservationist who was involved in the restoration of Nong Hong temple in 2002-2003.

Full story here.

Shell midden discovered in old church grounds

Archaeologists in the Philippines make a chance discovery of a shell midden when visiting an old church. With the cooperation of the authorities they were able to document the site and suggest future directions for the construction to minimise impact to the site. The site contains human bones, which may indicate some sort of pre-Hispanic burial site.

Pre-Hispanic burial ground unearthed in CamSur town
Philippine Inquirer, 31 July 2016

A team of archaeologists and graduate students from different universities in the United States accidentally found a pre-Hispanic burial ground amid an ongoing construction work of a multipurpose building in a former cemetery here on Monday.

The team, led by archaeologist Dr. Stephen Acabado, was surveying an old church in the village of Santo Domingo in the town along the Bicol River when they stumbled on the burial ground.

“We (archaeological team) were visiting the Camaligan church when I asked my group to see first the (Bicol River). Passing by the old cemetery, I saw there’s construction going on and diggings. When I entered the construction site I immediately saw the shell midden. Wow!” Acabado said.

Full story here.

Tourist ban on touching stupas and Buddhas of Borobudur

Borobudur authorities are enforcing a ban on touching stupas and Buddhas in an effort to preserve the site from damage.

Tourists banned from touching Borobudur statues, stupa
Jakarta Post, 27 July 2016

Travelers visiting Borobudur Temple in Central Java should avoid touching and stepping on the temple’s stupa in order to preserve one of the world’s most sacred heritage sites.

Borobudur Conservation Agency public relations officer Mura told tempo.co that authorities had consistently warned tourists through the loudspeaker regarding the matter.

“Touching the stupa can cause damage to the temple. Although it’s made from stone, it can be broken. The bottom part of the stupa has become soft and it lost its original shape due to being touched repeatedly by tourists,” said Mura while showing a palm print that had corroded the temple’s stone.

Borobudur was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. Built in the 8th century, it is the biggest Buddhist monument in the world.

Full story here.

Remains of a trading port in Central Vietnam

Archaeologists working in Central Vietnam’s Binh Dinh province have discovered the remains of a trading port that was in use during the 17-19th centuries.

Ceramic piece from China, c. 17-18th centuries. Source: Viet Nam Net 20160726
Ceramic piece from China, c. 17-18th centuries. Source: Viet Nam Net 20160726

Ancient Binh Dinh port unearthed
Viet Nam Net, 26 July 2016

Archaeological evidence of an old trading port have been found at a recent excavation conducted in the central Binh Dinh Province.

The research was carried out by scientists from the Vietnam Archaeology Institute and the local provincial museum.
Researcher Bui Van Hieu from the institute, who led the excavation, said though the area excavated this time was not large, scientists found thousands of evidence and objects valuable to studying the whole site.

Full story here.

Hong Kong news stronger heritage protection laws

Chinese University of Hong Kong law professor Steven Gallagher discusses the weaknesses in Hong Kong’s current heritage laws.

Current Hong Kong laws fail the test of heritage protection
South China Morning Post, 25 July 2016

Many news stories have focused on disputes and issues involving Hong Kong’s “cultural heritage”.

Recently an underwater archaeology group discovered an ancient stone anchor and bronze cannons in the waters off Hong Kong and called for more government support for archaeological investigation. The demolition of Ho Tung Gardens and the delays caused to the Sha Tin to Central rail project by the discovery of the archaeological remains of a well at the former Sacred Hill in To Kwa Wan are still fresh memories.

High rents and greedy landlords have been accused of forcing out artisan workers and favourite food restaurants, representing loss of intangible cultural heritage. The issue of Queen’s Pier is also ongoing.

The body tasked with protecting heritage for us all, the Antiquities Advisory Board, has been criticised for being ineffective, weak and secretive, and the discovery of the remains of HMS Tamar is being ignored as much as possible.

Full story here.

Anchor and cannon found off Hong Kong

Divers in Hong Kong discovered a large anchor stock and a cannon, the former dating to the Song Dynasty.

Hong Kong’s sunken treasure: ancient anchor and cannon reveal our rich maritime history
South China Morning Post, 19 July 2016

Two monumental artefacts were recovered over the weekend by a local diving group, marking a maritime heritage milestone for Hong Kong.

A diving team from the Hong Kong Underwater Heritage Group recovered an anchor stock – the upper part of an anchor – around Basalt Island, and a cannon off the coast of High Island. The anchor stock is believed to date back to the Song Dynasty, making it over 1,000 years old – Hong Kong’s oldest marine artefact.

“It’s important for Hong Kong’s [maritime] history because it’s evidence to show that Hong Kong is a location worth investigating,” Dr Libby Chan Lai-pik, senior curator at the Hong Kong Maritime Museum said. The museum is a sponsor of the Underwater Heritage Group.

“The anchor is proof that Hong Kong was perhaps quite advanced during the Song Dynasty in terms of water transport and commercial trade.”

Full story here.

The Koh Sdech Shipwreck and maritime trade in the 15th century

A feature on the finds from the Koh Sdech shipwreck, discovered off the coast of Cambodia and the tale of how the finds were looted and seized, as well as the connection between the ceramics found in the shipwreck with similar pieces from the Cardamom Mountains.

Finds fro the Koh Sdech shipwreck. Source: Cambodia Daily 20160723
Finds fro the Koh Sdech shipwreck. Source: Cambodia Daily 20160723

Shipwreck Highlights Sprawling Sea Trade
Cambodia Daily, 22 July 2016

Sometime in the 15th century, a ship caught fire off the coast of Koh Kong province and sank about 20 meters to the ocean floor.

Over 500 years later, a group of Vietnamese fishermen cast their nets about 20 km off the coast of Koh Sdech island and hauled in an unlikely catch.

They might have snagged one of thousands of pieces of Thai ceramics that sat alongside Chinese por­celain, ivory and untold other ar­tifacts, evidence of a bustling maritime trade that stretched across Southeast Asia and beyond.

Surfacing and cataloging the artifacts began in 2006 and involved money from a casino magnate, underwater dives by an alleged Russian fraudster, and expertise from Cambodian and American archaeologists.

Full story here.