Bagan and the World Heritage list countdown

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via Frontier Myanmar, 30 August 2018

Nyein Su Wai Kyaw Soe | Frontier

Nyein Su Wai Kyaw Soe | Frontier

After years of challenges and controversy, a UNESCO committee will decide next year whether to grant World Heritage listing to Bagan – but hotel development in the archaeological zone remains a thorny and unresolved issue.

Source: Bagan and the World Heritage list countdown | Frontier Myanmar

Orang asli barricades taken down, leaving forest open to logging

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Forestry Deparment Officer dismantle a Kalge blockade in the Gua Musang forests at Kuala Betis, Gua Musang Kelantan on August 27,2018.The Malaysian Insight/Afif Abd Halim

via The Malaysian Insight, 28 August 2018: Orang Asli (the original native peoples of Malaysia) in Kelantan lose a legal battle over recognition of traditional land rights, which will pave the way for logging and the destruction of the Orang Asli’s source of food.

Forestry Deparment Officer dismantle a Kalge blockade in the Gua Musang forests at Kuala Betis, Gua Musang Kelantan on August 27,2018.The Malaysian Insight/Afif Abd Halim

Forestry Deparment Officer dismantle a Kalge blockade in the Gua Musang forests at Kuala Betis, Gua Musang Kelantan on August 27,2018.The Malaysian Insight/Afif Abd Halim

As the nation counts down to Merdeka, the Orang Asli in Gua Musang do not feel like they are equal citizens despite being the oldest residents of the land that is now called Malaysia.

This is because their claims to tribal lands that they have used for generations are still not recognised by the Kelantan government.

Yesterday, they were dealt another blow to that fight for their rights when the blockades they erected to protect their land claims were destroyed by state government agencies.

After being up for close to eight months, the barricades they built and maintained were dismantled as they watched on with silent tears and heavy hearts.

Now, there is nothing to prevent plantations companies and loggers from entering and further destroying the communal jungles they have depended on for generations for sustenance.

Source: Tears of tribal land | The Malaysian Insight

New Journal: Asian Archaeology

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Asian Archaeology is a new journal focusing on… well I think the name is quite self-explanatory. I will add a link to the resources page.

Asian Archaeology is an academic English-language journal that publishes original studies based on field archaeological data as well as new theoretical and methodological analyses and synthetic overviews of topics in the field of Asian archaeology. The geographic scope of papers primarily extends across eastern Asia (including China, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, and the Russian Far East), mainland and island Southeast Asia, and Australia. The journal’s readership is international, with a target audience of scholars and students with English-language backgrounds from Europe, North America, and Asia. By breaking down the language barriers toward access to the archaeology of eastern Asia, Asian Archaeology serves as a central, international forum for the study of Asian archaeology. The journal aims to contribute not only to a better understanding of the history and cultures of Asia, but also to the development of a global approach to archaeology, and thus to play an active role in promoting the development of world archaeology and Asian archaeology

Source: Asian Archaeology – Springer

[CFP] 8th SSEASR Conference: Rivers and Religion of South and Southeast Asia

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The 8th South and Southeast Asian Association for the Study of Culture and Religion (SSEASR) Conference has been announced for Dhaka, Bangladesh for 13-16 June 2019. The theme of the conference is ‘Rivers and Religion: Connecting Cultures of South and Southeast Asia’

Rivers played a very crucial role in the development of world civilization. This is also true for South and Southeast Asia, where thousands of rivers connecting culture and thought. The vast watercourse of the River Ganga in South Asia, and that of the Mekong River in Southeast Asia, along with other major rivers in the region, determined the culture, belief system and philosophical thoughts of the region for several millennia. The homogeneity of culture and religious practices therein is seen today largely due to the flow and sacredness of South and Southeast Asian rivers. The role of rivers in connecting culture, commerce and conviction in the region of South and Southeast Asia will dot the 3th SSEASR conference as its major thrust for the academic study of culture and religion.

The academic discourse on rivers and religion to understand cultural
development of South and Southeast Asia is a very pertinent subject for achieving sustainable development goals of the 21st century. Purpose of the 3th SSEASR conference is encouraging world academia to initiate the dialogue on the much relevant issues on the subject in order to better understand, compare, interpret, and analyse countless beliefs, practices, traditions, communities and other related phenomena.

Strikingly, the history of Bangladesh is entwined in the history of its numerous and diverse rivers and water channels. Beautifully known as the Land of Thousand Rivers (“Hazar Nadir Desh” in Bangla language). These rivers – the life of the country – have nurtured Bangladesh through the ages and their banks also write the tales of the human civilization accomplished. These rivers not only facilitated trade but also worked as primary agents of carrying religions, spirituality, folklore, beliefs and beyond. No wonder, Bangladesh is a home of very rich and diverse culture. Therefore, the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh is proud to host the Sth SSEASR conference in the capital city of Dhaka, during Thursday, June 13- Sunday, June 16, 2019.

With the above conceptual parameter, we suggest following sub-themes for the Conference:

1. Riverine Routes and Religious links in South and Southeast Asia
2. Sacredness of Rivers, Riverfronts and Races
3. Major Rivers and their Valleys: The Lifeline of South and Southeast Asia
4. Tirthas and Pilgrimages in South and Southeast Asia
5. Culture and Eco-Tourism along the rivers in South and Southeast Asia
6. Iconography and Personification of River related Deities and Celestial beings
7. Art, Architecture and Archaeology of South and Southeast Asia
8. Language, Literature and Sacred Texts
9. Religious Practices and Behaviours of Indigenous People
10. Performing Arts, Fairs and Festivals
11. South and Southeast Asian Diaspora in the World: Religiosity and Survival

More details and registration information in the website below:

Megaliths of the Kelabit Highlands

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Batu Kalong

via Kuching In and Out:

Batu Kalong

Highlands is possibly an ancient and, at the same time, a continuous one. Recent archaeological research suggests that some of the earliest stone mounds were constructed as early as around 2,500 years ago. Excavations conducted at a number of megalithic sites in the Kelabit Highlands have also found an array of artefacts such as cremated bones, stone and glass beads, local earthenware and trade ceramics, and metal objects belonging to different time periods between 2,000 and a few hundred years ago. Among the Kelabit, megalithic practices were observed until around 1950, when the tradition ceased owing to modernisation and the people’s conversion to Christianity. Traditionally, megaliths were built during irau (‘feast’) as part of elaborate funerary rites of elite members of the Kelabit society. The batuh nangan and the lungun batuh, for example, were burial monuments where the bones of the deceased were placed in a secondary burial event known as burak nulang. The batuh senuped, on the other hand, commemorated the deceased or marked the location of the grave. The perupun, besides functioning as memorials, are also said to be the final repositories for the valuable properties (beads, gongs and jars) of heirless elites.

Source: Kuching In & Out | Documenting Our Culture, Food & Lifestyle – MEGALITHS OF THE KELABIT HIGHLANDS

Ancient cannon found at Bangkok’s royal field

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Cannon found in Sanam Luang. Source: Matichon 20180825

via Bangkok Post, 25 August 2018:

Cannon found in Sanam Luang. Source: Matichon 20180825

Cannon found in Sanam Luang. Source: Matichon 20180825

A cannon believed to be around 200 years old has been uncovered in the middle of Sanam Luang in Bangkok.

Thai media reported the cannon might have dated back to the reign of King Rama II (1809 to 1824). It is 3.05m long with a 40cm muzzle.

It was found on Saturday evening while workers were laying drainage pipes as part of the renovation of the ceremonial ground. They found it at the depth of 1.5m and used a backhoe to lift it out. All parts were intact except for the missing carriage.

Source: Ancient cannon found at Sanam Luang | Bangkok Post: news

See also:

Categories: Thailand


[Job] Faculty Position in Museum Studies & Heritage Studies – NTU 

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via ASEMUS. Deadline is 30 September 2018

The School of Art, Design and Media at NTU Singapore is looking for an Assistant / Associate Professor in Museum Studies & Heritage Studies.

Young and research-intensive, Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) is ranked 12th globally. NTU is also placed 1st among the world’s best young universities. The School of Art, Design and Media (ADM) at Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) invites qualified academics / professionals to apply for a faculty position as Assistant/Associate Professor in Museum Studies & Heritage Studies.

In August 2018, the School of Art, Design and Media (ADM) and the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) at NTU Singapore are launching the region’s first Master of Arts in Museum Studies and Curatorial Practices. The successful candidate, in his/her role as Assistant/Associate Professor in Museum Studies & Heritage Studies, after a period of orientation, is expected to play a central role in driving this graduate programme forward and helping it develop on an international stage in the years which follow.

ADM is concurrently developing a teaching and research focus in Museum Studies & Heritage Studies which values innovation, critical thinking and leadership throughout the entire curriculum. Accordingly, the successful applicant will be expected to teach and conduct research in an interdisciplinary mode, and across a variety of fields which may include: Heritage Studies, History and Future of Museums, Museums in the Digital Age (Museum Informatics, Museum Technologies, Museums and the Web), Material Culture, Visitor Interaction, Program Leadership, Management, Educational Programmes and Methodologies, Digital Visualisation and Representation Technologies, Image Processing, Dynamic Monitoring and Structural Analysis of Monuments and Museum Objects. Other visual culture courses in the candidate’s area of specialization would be most welcome.

A PhD degree as well as a strong record of university level teaching, research, supervision and publishing, are desirable. Preference will be given to candidates with 1) expertise in interdisciplinary teaching at the advanced undergraduate and/or graduate level, 2) record of published research, 3) previous experience in museum leadership / management or collections research.

Experience in working with digital technologies such as 2 and 3D documentation, geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing, spatial technologies, augmented and virtual reality, would be seen as an advantage.

Source: Faculty Position in Museum Studies & Heritage Studies | Singapore – Asia-Europe Museum Network

Vestige of Cham towers unveiled in Da Nang

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Cham tower discovered in Da Nang, Viet Nam Net 20180823

via Vietnam Net, 23 August 2018:

Three excavations saw archaeologists find statues of animals, ceramics and roof tiles.

The finding at Phong Le Village is believed to be the site of a Cham place of worship from the 10th to 11th century.

Cham is an indigenous group of Vietnam and Cambodia, who formed an independent kingdom from the 2nd to 17th centuries AD.

Source: Vestige of Cham towers unveiled in Da Nang – News VietNamNet

The most influential books on Southeast Asian Archaeology (a crowdsourced list)


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This list about the most influential books on Southeast Asian archaeology originated with a paper I am preparing for the conference on Decolonising Southeast Asia’s Past. Very simply put, I am trying to understand if there is a difference in archaeological sources in English, compared to what is written in a non-English language (eg. Thai, Myanma, Bahasa). Part of this work was inspired by my experiences with rock art and the difference between what was written in English and what I could find in other languages. For example, the 2001 Handbook of Rock Art Research summarises Southeast Asia in three pages and mentions the presence of about 120 sites – of which only five are named. In contrast, my ongoing research has identified 1,200 sites (see here and here) by incorporating data from non-English sources and papers from less prominent journals. Perhaps once I have my thoughts sorted out I will share it in another post. To understand this disparity better, I put out an informal survey to ask about the most influential books about the archaeology of Southeast Asia:


Crowdsourcing the Most Influential Books on Southeats Asian Archaeology

Crowdsourcing the Most Influential Books on Southeast Asian Archaeology


This is by no means a scientific survey, but the majority of respondents in my network were archaeologists working in Southeast Asia. While it is not comprehensive, I think there is a good breadth of what is considered to be the  ‘classic’ books on Southeast Asian archaeology. A few books were recommended more than once (notably Southeast Asia from Prehistory to History by Bellwood and Glover).


This list is organised by region, then country (Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam) and then by thematic subject. Some suggestions that were not directly relevant to Southeast Asia were omitted. I’ve also included links to Amazon and/or the publisher if they are available for purchase (Disclosure: I make a commission if you buy the books through the Amazon links below). I’ll update this list regularly, so if you have a suggestion for other books leave a comment below.


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Categories: Books