Culture Ministry to unearth Khmer Rouge victims

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Source: Khmer Times, 20190111

via Khmer Times, 11 Jan 2019:

The Culture and Fine Arts Ministry’s archaeology department will soon catalogue remains of Khmer Rouge victims to be unearthed as it excavates 200 mass graves across the country.

The untouched graves are remnants of the genocidal Khmer Rouge that was responsible for the death of about 1.7 million Cambodians between 1975 and 1979.

Department head Voeun Vuthy on Tuesday said that his team has so far catalogued the remains of victims at six killing sites since it began work in 2012.

Source: Culture Ministry to unearth Khmer Rouge victims – Khmer Times

Ancient Khmer Rouge surviving temples to be protected by locals

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via Phnom Penh Post, 10 Jan 2019: Villagers in Banteay Meanchey protecting a sacred hill believed to contain the remains of two ancient temples.

Beneath the surface of a remote hill in Tuol Pongro commune, in Banteay Meanchey’s Malai district, lie two “mysterious” ancient temples that survived the Khmer Rouge years, waiting to be discovered.

The local community and authorities are playing their roles in preserving the “treasures”.

Prasat Knong and Prasat Krao temples are buried under Prey Praseth hill. Commune chief Sim Morn said the two are believed to have been excavated during the war.

Evidence of the digging can apparently be seen on the ground. He estimated that the former’s structure has been most damaged, while the latter is still in good shape.

“It is not clear when the temples had been excavated. The hill used to be a battleground. After the war ended, people came to live around this area and found proof of excavation,” he said.

Source: Ancient Khmer Rouge surviving temples to be protected by locals, National, Phnom Penh Post

[Lecture] What More Can Archaeology Tell Us About Singapore’s Past?

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Recent excavations at Empress Place, Singapore. Source: Straits Times 20150221
Recent excavations at Empress Place, Singapore. Source: Straits Times 20150221
2015 excavations at Empress Place, Singapore. Source: Straits Times 20150221

Date : Tuesday, 29 January 2019
Time : 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Venue : ISEAS Seminar Room 2

About the Lecture

This month marks the 35th anniversary of Singapore’s first archaeological excavation and the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the British under Sir T.S. Raffles. Since then, over half a million artefacts have been recovered from Singapore. These cover two periods: the Temasek era (14th to 16th century) and the Singapore era (1819-present). The artefacts from these excavations have succeeded in proving that Singapore had a sophisticated multicultural society and complex economy before 1350. There are still important questions about Singapore’s history which further research, particularly laboratory analysis, may be able to answer. This seminar will address important questions over provenance of artefacts; ancient ecology and environment of Singapore; reconstruction of artefacts; statistical analysis of intrasite variation; and comparisons with other sites in the region.

About the Speaker

Professor John N. Miksic received his BA from Dartmouth College, MA from Ohio University, and PhD from Cornell University based on archaeological fieldwork on a trading port of the 11th-13th century in Sumatra. He has worked in Malaysia as a Peace Corps Volunteer teacher and agricultural extension worker, in Sumatra as a Rural Development Advisor under USAID, and at Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, for six years under a grant from the Ford Foundation and the Asian Cultural Council. In 1987 he moved to the National University of Singapore, where he is professor in the Southeast Asian Studies Department. He has been affiliated with the Department of History, University Scholars Programme, and Asia Research Institute. He founded the Archaeology Unit at ISEAS. He received a Special Recognition Award and the Pingat Bakti Setia long service award from the government of Singapore, and the title Kanjeng Raden Harya Temenggung from the Susuhunan of Surakarta (Indonesia). His book Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea won the inaugural award for best book on Singapore history in 2018. His specialties are the historical archaeology of Southeast Asia, urbanization, trade, Buddhism, and ceramics.

To register, please write to

Preliminary Report on the Archaeological Investigations at the Victoria Concert Hall

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via the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre, a newly-published report on the excavations at the Victoria Concert Hall in Singapore.

In September 2010, the Victoria Concert Hall and Victoria Theatre were closed for major redevelopment amounting to the sum of $158,000,000. The construction project saw extensive demolition works and the compound within was impacted. An archaeological evaluation conducted in July 2010 revealed pockets of cultural deposits from both the colonial and pre-modern eras. This discovery of an in-situ archaeological reservoir led to a three-week large-scale rescue excavation in September 2011. While the excavations were restricted to only a small area of the construction impact zone, the archaeology team successfully recovered approximately 654 kg of artifacts and ecofacts. This preliminary site report details the excavation sequences conducted at the site.

Source: NSC Archaeological Reports – ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute

RM10mil for ancient secrets

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Source: The Star, 20190104

via The Star, 04 January 2019: The Malaysia federal government has approved a RM$10 million budget for more work at the Sungai Batu site in Kedah.

The race is on to uncover more secrets from the ruins of the oldest known civilisation in South-East Asia – the Sungai Batu archaeological site in Kedah.

The federal government has approved RM10mil to conduct consultation, conservation and restoration works as well as an archaeological museum.

“The funds were approved under the recent federal budget. It is only for the first phase. The total needed is RM30mil,” said Deputy Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik.

However, Muhammad Bakhtiar said the ministry needed the Kedah government’s assistance to gazette a special area plan for Sungai Batu to ensure that it would be protected.

Source: RM10mil for ancient secrets – Nation | The Star Online

Categories: Malaysia


New exhibition seeks to revisit Raffles’ other facets

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Source: Asian Civilisations Museum

via The Straits Times, 01 January 2019: Modern Singapore’s founder, Sir Stamford Raffles, is the focus of a new exhibition at the Asian Civilisations Museum starting next month.

To many, Sir Stamford Raffles is held in esteem as the founder of modern Singapore who initiated the setting up of a trading port here for the British East India company, following his arrival in 1819.

But a new exhibition opening next month at the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) will seek to peel back the layers of who the Briton was, down to his callous side.

Mr Kennie Ting, the museum’s director, said the majority of Singaporeans “know” Raffles as a mythical, one-dimensional “founder figure”.

Source: New exhibition seeks to revisit Raffles’ other facets, Singapore News & Top Stories – The Straits Times

[Job] Assistant Professor – Southeast Asian Studies in the Modern or Pre-Modern Period-Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies at UC Berkeley

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Deadline is Jan 25, 2019

The Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley invites applications for an Assistant Professor in Southeast Asian Studies, tenure track, with an expected start date of July 1, 2019. A Ph.D. (or equivalent international degree) or enrollment in a Ph.D. (or equivalent international degree) granting program, with specialization in Southeast Asian studies, and completion of all requirements except the dissertation, is required at the time of application.

We seek applications from scholars of Southeast Asia working in the humanities broadly defined across any country, culture or time period whose research is grounded in the region and its textual traditions. We welcome specializations in literature, religious studies, cultural, intellectual and social history, and cultural studies. Advanced literacy and proficiency with primary source materials in at least one Southeast Asian language is required. Proficiency in one or more additional relevant research languages, facility with diverse source materials, and the ability to think and work across disciplines, are preferred. Duties will include developing and teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in Southeast Asian studies, supervising graduate students, and oversight of relevant language instruction. Candidates should have a record of excellence and innovation in research and teaching, and a demonstrated commitment to education and mentorship, service to the profession, and to equity and inclusion. For more information about the Department go to:

Source: Assistant Professor – Southeast Asian Studies in the Modern or Pre-Modern Period-Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies (JPF01897) – UC Berkeley AP Recruit

How to Successfully Fight the Illicit Trade in Stolen Art and Antiquities in Asia? Remove an Antiquated English Law from Hong Kong’s Legal System

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via Antiquities Coalition, December 2018: Prof. Steven Gallagher is the other co-convener on the session about Heritage Management Law and Policy in this year’s SPAFACON. Full policy paper in the link below.

The looting of art and antiquities from Asia is a problem exacerbated by continued demand. This is especially true in China, home to one of the greatest concentrations of millionaires worldwide, where a rapidly growing, newly wealthy class has entered the Asian art and antiquities market, escalating demand in an already thriving sector. Many Asian states that have lost and are continuing to lose cultural patrimony to looting and trafficking have introduced strict laws to combat the removal and unlawful export of art and antiquities from their jurisdiction. Transit and market states, too, have now implemented legal and regulatory frameworks, often based on international law, to deter citizens from dealing in looted art and antiquities or buyers from purchasing such goods when there is any doubt as to their provenance.

However, one of the world’s main markets for Asian art and antiquities, as well as a convenient and much-used transit hub, is a notable exception in having almost no laws intended to prevent this illicit trade: Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s legal and regulatory framework offers little protection for looted art and antiquities, and it retains one obsolete rule of law from its time as a British colony that may not only encourage buyers to purchase looted or stolen works, but also embolden those trying to construct false provenance to pass them through Hong Kong. This law is the rule of market overt, often referred to as a “thieves’ charter,” provided in Hong Kong’s Sale of Goods Ordinance. According to market overt, if someone purchases goods from a shop or market where they are openly on display and are of a type usually sold in such a shop or market, then the buyer acquires good title to the goods so long as they have bought them in good faith. This means that a buyer of looted art or antiquities from a shop usually selling art or antiquities in Hong Kong may resist any attempt by the losing party to recover their lost heritage, and may sell the pieces on to others who will also be safe from any action for recovery.`

Hong Kong has a reputation as one of the world’s leading financial and commercial centers, trusted because of rigorous regulation of its efficient financial and banking services, and confidence in its common law system. It is now also considered one of the world’s foremost Asian art and antiquities markets; however, the retention of an archaic and anachronistic principle of English medieval market law is baffling, especially when this principle has been abolished in the United Kingdom to prevent the flourishing of a “thief’s paradise.”

This policy brief explains some of the problems Asia faces with regard to looting of art and antiquities and loss of cultural heritage, and how Hong Kong’s legal and regulatory framework does little to prevent Hong Kong from being used as a market and transit state for illicitly obtained cultural patrimony. The brief recommends the simple repeal of section 24 of the Sale of Goods Ordinance to abolish the market overt rule in Hong Kong, as well as standardization of import and export laws between Hong Kong and China, strengthened law enforcement of antiquity-related crimes, and the inclusion of the art market in anti-money laundering and counterterrorist financing provisions.

Source: How to Successfully Fight the Illicit Trade in Stolen Art and Antiquities in Asia? Remove an Antiquated English Law from Hong Kong’s Legal System – Think Tank

The Balangiga Bells and the right to self-determination

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via Philippine Inquirer, 22 Dec 2018: An editorial by a friend Kate Tantuico on the recent return of the Balangiga Bells. Tantuico is also co-convening a session on Heritage Management Law and Policy in this year’s SPAFACON.

During deliberations for the Cultural Heritage Law of 2009 (Republic Act No. 10066), legislators observed that many of our cultural materials remain on display in museums abroad. The late senator Edgardo Angara said he himself saw many Philippine artifacts obtained from underwater sites in Southern Palawan on display in the Newberry Museum in Chicago. Sen. Richard Gordon also mentioned that cannons from Grande Island were taken by American forces and brought to the Smithsonian Institute, despite calls for their return by the people of Olongapo.

On a global scale, the return of colonial cultural materials to their now-sovereign countries of origin is ongoing. In 2015, the Nusantara Museum in Delft, the Netherlands, offered to return 14,000 colonial artifacts to our neighbor Indonesia, which they had ruled as the Dutch East Indies. In March 2018, President Emmanuel Macron of France met with Patrice Talon, his counterpart in the former French possession of Benin. Macron said France will be returning all artifacts taken from Africa, following persistent calls from various ethnic groups in Nigeria. And just last month, The British Museum and France’s Quai Branly Museum declared they will be returning the Benin Bronzes — a collection of sculptures — to Benin and Nigeria after decades of pressure from the latter.

Source: The Balangiga Bells and the right to self-determination | Inquirer Opinion