The mysterious ‘foreigners’ carved into the temples of Sambor Prei Kuk

Phnom Penh Post, 09 June 2017:

The mysterious ‘foreigners’ carved into the temples of Sambor Prei Kuk

The southernmost is the home to the puzzle.

Facing the main temple, Prasat Yeah Poun, is a derelict construction called Kda Ouk. Its architrave – the beam above the columns – bears the carvings of 12 men. Each is different – some with strong, chiselled features, and others more delicate – but they have notable characteristics in common, including moustaches, long curly hair, big eyes, thick eyebrows and pointy noses.

The unique features of these men do not fit with the statues and engravings at the rest of the temples – nor, researchers say, with the physical appearance of Cambodian people. This has led to speculation that they are the portraits of foreigners. But who were these outsiders and why, in the seventh century, would they have been important enough to the Khmer people to have been literally put on a pedestal?

Source: The mysterious ‘foreigners’ carved into the temples of Sambor Prei Kuk, Post Weekend, Phnom Penh Post

Sunken Australian warship HMAS Perth ransacked by illegal scavengers

The Guardian, 05 June 2017:

One of Australia’s most treasured second world war warships has been illegally salvaged for metal, devastating the war grave of more than 300 sailors, maritime archaeologists say.

An Australian-Indonesian expedition conducted a dive on the wreck of HMAS Perth, which sank in 1942 following a fierce battle against the Japanese navy off the north-west tip of Java.

Kevin Sumption, the director of the Australian National Maritime Museum, said: “It is with profound regret we advise that our joint maritime archaeologist diving team has discovered sections of the Perth missing. Interim reports indicate only approximately 40% of the vessel remaining.

Source: Sunken Australian warship HMAS Perth ransacked by illegal scavengers | Australia news | The Guardian

The Punjulharjo ancient boat site

The Patriots, 03 June 2017: An article about the Punjulharjo ancient boat site, which was discovered in central Java in 2008. The author expresses hope that a similar boat which is thought to be in Malaysia’s Sungei Batu can be found. Article is in Bahasa Indonesia.

Source: Situs Perahu Kuno Punjulharjo, Gambaran Awal Kapal Kuno Sungai Batu | The Patriots

[Talk] Disjuncture, Interference and Critical Heritage: Reflections from the Field

Readers in London may be interested in this event at SOAS on July 4, a conversation between SOAS Centenary Fellow Rasmi Shoocongdej and others

Disjuncture, Interference and Critical Heritage: Reflections from the Field

The projection of historical continuity through the designation ‘heritage’ always betrays, in one way or another, its very opposite: historical disjunctures and interference in local affairs. Join SOAS Centenary Fellow, Professor Rasmi Shoocongdej, along with five respondents, to examine this paradox at the heart of the notion of ‘heritage’ and its ‘management’ today. Professor Shoocongdej, an archaeologist specializing in mainland Southeast Asian prehistory, will address the pressures of research harnessed to the promotion of ‘Thai Cultural Heritage’ in sites characterized today by multiple cultures and ethnic minority groups.

Professor Shoocongdej’s fieldwork focuses on borderlands between Thailand and Myanmar. Her research on prehistory is complemented by incisive contributions to important debates at the nexus of archaeology and the public sphere. Her pedagogical career, based at Thailand’s premier arts university, Silpakorn, has been devoted to training Thai and other Southeast Asian archaeologists through interregional programmes to assume positions of intellectual and ethical responsibility vis-à-vis their regions and their international partners. She is a crucial role model for Southeast Asian archaeologists and, more broadly, for Southeast Asian women considering pursuing academic careers.

Professor Shoocongdej will address her twofold experience as a ‘Thai female archaeologist.’ On the one hand she represents the ‘elite centre’ – Bangkok’s Silpakorn – in researching prehistoric cultures of Thailand’s peripheral ‘highlands’, negotiating at once relations – or non-relations – between local communities and their prehistoric site surroundings, and the attendant expectations of nationalist historiography emanating from the entangled academic and political realms. On the other hand, she represents ‘indigenous perspectives’ to the international archaeological community intent on reconstructing Southeast Asia’s past, and dominated still by Euro-American actors and modes of inquiry.

Source: Disjuncture, Interference and Critical Heritage: Reflections from the Field | SOAS University of London

Archaeology books removed from Singapore library, errors on religions cited

Channel NewsAsia, 08 June 2016: A series of Malay-language books named “Agama, Tamadun Dan Arkeologi” (Religion, Civilisation And Archaeology) has been withdrawn from circulation in the Singapore library system among public complaints that the books insulted religions such as Judaism, Christianity and Buddhism, as well as carried factual inaccuracies about these religions. The publisher of the series is based in Malaysia.

All titles under the Agama, Tamadun Dan Arkeologi (Religion, Civilisation And Archeology) series have been withdrawn from its libraries with immediate effect pending review by the Library Consultative Panel, a spokesperson said.

Source: NLB withdraws Malay language books on religion, to review vetting process

50 Bagan pagodas to be restored this year

Myanmar Times, 16 June 2017:

The Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library (Bagan) has identified 50 pagodas that are need of immediate restoration and restoration after carrying out a survey and classification based on the severity of damage on pagodas in the Bagan area.

Source: 50 Bagan pagodas to be restored this year

Bangkok’s old neighbourhoods reflects a cultural melting pot

Bangkok Post, 15 June 2017: A travel feature on the architectural sights of Bangkok’s Chinatown, which is close to 200 years old.

Bangkok is populated by many Thais of foreign descent, a majority being Chinese. Yaowarat and Talat Noi are among the city’s oldest Chinese communities. The area once boasted major ports and trading hubs, which also accommodated places of worship for Christians and Muslims in addition to temples and shrines for Buddhists of different sects.

Source: Cultural melting pot | Bangkok Post: travel

Bagan World Heritage zone to be extended

Myanmar Times, 15 June 2017:

Efforts to list Bagan as a UNESCO World Heritage site are underway and an application could be made by September, U Aung Aung Kyaw, director of the Department of Archaeology and National Museum in Bagan, has told The Myanmar Times.

Source: Bagan World Heritage zone to be extended

Apsara cracks down on illegal construction activity

Various sources, see below: In the past week, the APSARA Authority has been cracking down on illegal construction projects – as many as 500 – in the Angkor Archaeological Park.

The Apsara Authority, which oversees the Angkor Wat temple complex, has warned the owners of over 500 unauthorised construction sites to halt activity and dismantle any structures or police will clear the sites later this week.

Source: Apsara seeking to stop illegal building activity, National, Phnom Penh Post

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