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Are Malaysians buying up Indonesia's cultural heritage?

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A rather disturbing report of Malaysian scholars allegedly buying up ancient manuscripts from private owners in the Indonesian Riau Islands (south of Singapore) in a bid “to find proof of their Malay identity”. The idea of Malay identity and ethnicity is a touchy issue in Malaysia, due to affirmative action policies that accord privileges to the Malays over the other ethnicities that share the country. However, this article should be seen in the light of relations between Indonesia and Malaysia, which are not at an all-time high at the moment. A few years ago, Indonesia accused Malaysia of using a traditional Indonesian song to promote Malaysian tourism. The most recent chilling of relations involves Indonesia freeze of domestic helpers working in Malaysia because of recent cases of abuse that has come to light. The reason I’m featuring this story is because, hey, it’s about ancient manuscripts (although most aren’t more than 200 years old so it can’t be that ancient) and it highlights a recurring theme in Indonesia that the government doesn’t have the will or the resources to take care of its own heritage, but are looking to blame Malaysia for buying up what little they have.

M`sians take ancient Malay manuscripts from Riau islands
Antara, 03 June 2009
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Cham inscriptions and Cham manuscripts: A legacy of development


Cham inscriptions and Cham manuscripts: A legacy of developmentSpeaker: Mohamed Effendy bin Abdul Hamid
Date/Time: Sat 14 Apr 07, 2.30 – 4.30pm
Venue: National Library (Singapore), 100 Victoria Street, Possibility Room, Level 5The Vo Canh Stele is one of the earliest Sanskrit inscriptions found in Southeast Asia, in the vicinity of the kingdom of Champa, Vietnam. The inscription, dated to be from the fourth century, records the donation made by a King belonging to the family of Sri Mara. The significance of this inscription was that it was one of the earliest examples of the Pallava script being used in Southeast Asia by a Malay-like polity, Kerajaan Champa.

This seminar will highlight the localization of Sanskrit by the Cham people by contrasting it to other Cham inscriptions and the writing found in the Cham manuscripts. This will highlight that although the Cham language and writing show significant borrowings from other cultures, it actually enhanced the development of the Cham language.

Admission is FREE and no registration is required.

About the Speaker:
Mohamed Effendy bin Abdul Hamid is a postgraduate student in the National University of Singapore, Southeast Asia Studies Programme. His interest in Champa’s history began in the year 2000 and has been awarded a research grant in 2005 by National University of Singapore’s Graduate research programme to conduct fieldwork research in Cham communities in Vietnam and Cambodia. Mohamed Effendy has also participated and attended in several international conferences and symposiums such as “New scholarship on Champa”, 5-6 August 2004. He co-presented a paper with Research Associate Mr Pritam Singh on “The Muslims of Indochina: Islam, Ethnicity and Religious Education” and a paper “Cham Manuscripts and the Possibility of a Second Champa Kingdom” at the 19th International Association of Historians of Asia (IAHA) 2006 in the Philippines.

Related Books:
The Art of Champa by J. Hubert

Digitizing ancient documents for future preservation

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I’ve previously mentioned the plight of the ancient manuscripts kept at the Radya Pustaka Museum in Solo and how they have been literally rotting away in cupboards here. It seems that a workshop has been conducted recently to teach museum and heritage professionals how to prepare and scan/photograph these manuscripts into a digital format as a means of preservation. The work sounds pretty similar to what I’m doing with documenting rock art. Digitising data has the potential to be stored indefinitely, but maintaining digitising collections is a constant process and requires a long-term outlook to keep up with the level of technological change. I’m personally keeping four backups of my data on recordable discs and portable hard drives – but these things only have a shelf life of 5 years, by which time I will probably need to change the recording media (think about how you’ve had to evolve from CD-R to DVD-R to flash drives and portable hard drives in the last five years). Just over a decade ago there was a European effort to maintain a database of rock art that was being stored in a now-defunct Kodak photo cd digital format – I’m not sure if the effort still exists, or if the data can still be drawn from the obsolete proprietary system. In contrast, these ancient manuscripts and rock art have survived relatively well for hundreds, if not thousands of years. The moral of the story: digital collections might be a great way for facilitating mass dissemination and saving space, but we haven’t actually seen any long term solutions for storage of digital collections. The only safe recourse currently for archiving digital information is to make multiple backups and to do so in regular intervals that keeps up with the pace of technology – and I suspect that the cost will eventually outstrip the benefit in the future.

photo credit: pcardoso

Digital Age Provides Hope For Ancient Manuscripts
Jakarta Globe, 26 June 2009
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Public Lecture: From Indigenous to Islamic law: Jambi between the 14th and 18th Century by Dr Uli Kozok

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From the National University of Singapore Asia Research Institute:

From Indigenous to Islamic law: Jambi between the 14th and 18th Century by Dr Uli Kozok
Date: 10 Jan 2008
Time: 4 – 5.30 pm
Venue: ARI Seminar Room, 469A Tower Block, Level 10, Bukit Timah Road, National University of Singapore @ BTC
Organisers: Dr MILLER Michelle, Jointly organized with the Department of Malay Studies, NUS

The 14th century manuscript from the village of Tanjung Tanah, Kerinci (Jambi), which is still partly written in an Sanskritised idiom, was issued by the Maharaja of Dharmasraya, the former capital of the Malayu kingdom, to provide the “chiefs of the land of Kerinci” with a code of law. This manuscript, still written in an Old Sumatran script on bark paper, was a few centuries later reissued by the Sultan of Jambi, but this time on paper and in Arabic-Malay script. The two manuscripts, both in the possession of the same family in Tanjung Tanah, does not only give us interesting insights into the changes that the Malay language underwent from the 14th to the 18th century, but also into how the arrival of Islam influenced the legal system of a Sumatran Malay polity.

About the Speaker
1989 MA, 1994 PhD Austronesian Languages and Cultures, Hamburg University. 1994-2001 Senior Lecturer, University of Auckland, 2001- Associate Professor, University of Hawaii (Department of Indo-Pacific Languages and Literatures). Main interests comprise Sumatran philology, palaeography of Island Southeast Asia, distance education.

We would gratefully request that you RSVP to Ms Alyson Rozells at 65168787 or e-mail her at

Selections July 2007

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Here are the new additions of archaeological interest to the catalogue of Select Books, a specialised publisher and retailer of books pertaining to Southeast Asia. For ordering info, please visit the Select Books website.

Historical Dictionary Of The Peoples Of The Southeast Asian Massif. Michaud, Jean. Us. 2006. 357pp. hc $172.83 (Dwelling in the highland areas of Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma (Myanmar) and southwest China are hundreds of ethnic groups known as ‘tribes’ in popular literature. Together their population adds up to 80 million, more than any of the countries (bar China) they inhabit, yet in each they are designated and treated as “minorities.” They have been forced to dwell in the highlands while ‘non-tribe’ populations have occupied the more fertile lowlands. Coupled with the fact that they are so little known, this has put their way of life and cultural distinctions in jeopardy. This book offers a chronology, hundreds of cross-referenced dictionary entries on about 200 groups, the six countries they live in, some of their leaders, and their political, economic, social, cultural and religious aspects. The introduction discusses both the diversities and similarities of the groups’ ethnicities, languages, religious practices, and customs.)

Prehistory And Protohistory Of India: An Appraisal (Palaeolithic – Non-Harappan Chalcolithic Cultures) (Perspectives In Indian Art & Archaeology, No. 7). Jain, V.K.. In. 2006. 213pp. pb $12.84 (This introduction to Indian archaeology for university students presents a comprehensive overview of the tools, technologies, settlement and subsistence patterns, ecological background, distribution patterns, and the vocabulary needed for prehistoric and protohistoric study. Characteristics of the periods of early human development are noted. Sites of ongoing archaeological research in India are located. With glossary, bibliography and index.)

Archaeology: Indonesian Perspective. R. P. Soejono’s Festschrift. Simanjuntak, Truman; M Hisyam et al. Id. 2006. 618pp. pb $61.14 (This volume of 58 essays is published to celebrate the distinguished life and scholarship of the 80-year-old professor of prehistory and archaeology, R. P. Soejono. Part one contains tributes to his life and teaching style, including some in Bahasa Indonesia. The six sections that follow, devoted to ongoing research in Indonesia, are on: paleogeography and paleoenvironment; paleoanthropology; prehistory; classical archaeology; Islamic and colonial archaeology; and ethnography. The final section is on general issues of cultural resource management. With black-and-white photographs and graphics.)

Indonesia: Political History & Hindu & Buddhist Cultural Influences, Volumes 1 And 2. Hazra, Kanai Lal. In. 2007. 1102pp. hc $140.12 (Volume 1 is a political history of Indonesia from the Srivijaya era to the 2001 election of President Megawati Sukarnoputri. Volume 2 traces the rather different history of East Timor, followed by an exploration of the Hindu and Buddhist continuums of cultural influence. The latter takes the form of an exploration of the religious history of Indonesia, a detailed analysis of Old and Middle Javanese literature, and a discussion of Indonesian art and architecture. With bibliography and index. The author is a scholar of Pali language, literature and Buddhist studies and has written extensively on these subjects.)

Thrills & Treasures Of Historical Landmarks: Sarawak. Munan, Heidi. Sg. 2007. 64pp. hc $26.70 (These 75 or so photographs or illustrations are of archaeologically significant sites, stones, monuments and buildings in Sarawak. The informative commentaries that touch on their origins, architecture and folklore shed light onto many aspects of the country’s culture and history.)

Early Landscapes Of Myanmar. Moore, Elizabeth H.. Th. 2007. 271pp. pb $64.20 (The primary focus of this study is the archaeology of Myanmar, specifically in inland Upper and coastal Lower Myanmar. Separate chapters examine Paleolithic, Neolithic, Bronze-iron chiefdoms and the Hindu-Buddhist walled sites of the Pyu and Mon. Many of the sites have never before been described in English. The central theme is the relationship between man and the environment and the catalysts that structure landscape interaction, enabling expansion of agriculture, resource utilisation and international trade networks. Generously illustrated with site plans, site views, maps and artefacts. With bibliography and index.)

Historical Dictionary Of The Philippines (2nd Edition) (Historical Dictionaries Of Asia, Oceania, And The Middle East, No. 54). Guillermo, Artemio; May Kyi Win. Us. 2005. 583pp. hc $205.33 (This greatly expanded and updated second edition of the dictionary provides more than 400 hundred entries on important persons, places, events, and institutions, as well as salient economic, social and cultural aspects. The more than four centuries of the Philippines history, including the periods of Spanish and American dominance over the country, is neatly wrapped up in an introduction, clearly laid out in a chronology, complemented with statistical data in the appendix, and concluded with a bibliography allowing further research and study.)

Historical Dictionary Of Thailand (2nd Edition) (Historical Dictionaries Of Asia, No. 55). Smith, Harold E.; Gayla S. Nieminen, May Kyi Win. Us. 2005. 374pp. hc $156.57 (Thailand has experienced extremely rapid economic growth, and with that growth the increased social mobility and political democracy that comes with it. As the only Southeast Asian country to have avoided colonisation, it still boasts a functioning monarchy, remains close to its religious roots, and clings to its cultural heritage. This historical dictionary provides an overview of the country in the introduction, traces the long and complicated history in the chronology, and goes into much greater detail in the dictionary. It also presents important persons, places, institutions, and more in an easily accessible resource. Significant recent events are discussed including the 1997-98 Thai economic crisis and its effects, reforms of the national government, and the growth in political roles of both the businessman and members of the middle class. This second edition offers 64 new entries, as well as updates and revisions to older ones. In addition, the book updates basic information relative to population growth, urbanisation, and industrialisation of the economy. Includes sketch maps, 20 appendixes and an extensive bibliography.)

Spreading The Dhamma: Writing, Orality And Textual Transmission In Buddhist Northern Thailand. Veidlinger, Daniel M.. Us. 2006. 259pp. hc $102.92 (Drawing on a vast array of primary sources, the author Daniel Veidlinger traces the role of written Buddhist texts in the predominantly oral milieu of the kingdom of La Na in northern Thailand from the 15th to the 19th centuries. He examines how the written word was assimilated into existing Buddhist and monastic practice in the region, and the place of writing in the cultic and ritual life of the faithful. He also considers the manuscripts themselves, the people who sponsored them and the rivalry between monks who want to maintain the oral tradition of transmission and those who support the new medium of writing. Throughout, he emphasizes the influence of the changing modes of communication on social and intellectual life. With notes, bibliography and index.)

Thailand: Spirits Among Us
. Guelden, Marlene. Sg. 2007. 191pp. hc $48.15 (The complex spirit world is an immensely important dimension in the lives of nearly all Thai people. This extensively illustrated volume is an explanation of the spirit world as perceived in contemporary Thailand. Among the areas explored: tattooing; belief in ghosts of different genres; Buddhism and syncretic beliefs; social other ritual practices; spirit houses and sacred objects; mediums and spirit possession; magical monks and their powers; and the nora tradition of dance-dramas. Bibliography and index.)

Dragon Sea: A Historical Mystery. Buried Treasure. An Adventure Beneath The Waves. Pope, Frank. Gb. 2007. 373pp. hc $56.20 (When Oxford University archaeologist Mensun Bound – dubbed the “Indiana Jones of the Deep” by the Discovery Channel – teamed up with a financier to salvage a sunken trove of 15th-century porcelain, it seemed a dream enterprise. The stakes were high: the Hoi An wreck lay hundreds of feet down in a typhoon-prone stretch of water off the coast of Vietnam known as the Dragon Sea. Raising its contents required saturation diving, a crew of 160, and a fleet of boats. The costs were unprecedented. But the potential rewards were equally high: Bound would revolutionize thinking about Vietnamese ceramics, and his partner would make a fortune auctioning off the pieces. Hired as the project’s manager, Frank Pope watched the tumultuous drama of the Hoi An unfold. In Dragon Sea he delivers an engrossing tale of danger, adventure, and ambition – a fascinating object lesson in what happens when scholarship and money join forces to recover lost treasure.)

Buddhist Art: Form And Meaning. Pal, Pratapaditya (ed.). In. 2007. 132pp. hc $132.00 (Interpreting symbolism and examining the transmission of ideas about iconography and motifs, the specialist essays in this book collectively cover 1000 years of Buddhist art from the 1st century BCE. Roughly divided into three groups, the essays in the first group concern themselves with Buddhist iconography, including one that offers a radical interpretation of the pipal tree, the tonsure and the ushnisha on Buddha’s head. The second group explores the transmission of iconographic ideas between India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Cambodia. Through an examination of the adornments of Himalayan wrathful deities and through Ladakhi mural paintings, the third group of essays discusses the interrelationship of Buddhist arts in India and Tibet. Included in this final group is a brief photo essay of Alchi and Western Tibet.)

Masterpieces Of The National Museum Of Cambodia: An Introduction To The Collection (Chefs-D’Å“uvre Du Musée National Du Cambodge: Introduction Aux Collections). Jessup, Helen Ibbitson (text). Us. 2006. 112pp. pb $69.29 (This illustrated catalogue in Khmer, English, French and Japanese presents 80 pieces of Khmer art from the National Museum of Phnom Penh. Religious carvings and statuary form the bulk of the masterpieces showcased in this introduction to the Museum’s collections. A chronology, brief overview of Khmer history, glossary and bibliography complete the catalogue.)

Monuments Of India & Indianized States: The Plans Of Major Notable Temples, Tombs, Palaces And Pavilions. Bunce, Fredrick W.. In. 2007. 518pp. hc $142.97 (This volume contains short notes and architectural ground plans with some elevation drawings of major and notable temples and other edifices in India and India-influenced Southeast Asian sites. All were built between the third century BCE and 1854 CE. With glossary, drawings of comparative examples, historical sketch maps, and bibliography.)

Vietnamese Style. De Hartingh, Bertrand; Anna-Craven-Smith-Milnes. Sg. 2007. 208pp. hc $72.76 (While the resplendent palaces and temples of old Vietnam recall strong Chinese influences in their architecture and the colonial buildings of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City remind us of Paris, the vernacular buildings in the villages have largely retained their Vietnamese identity in the use of wooden frameworks, mat walls and packed earth for floors. Two authorities on Vietnam art and history explore the evolution of Vietnamese architecture and design from pre-colonial to modern times. Three types of architecture found in Vietname are examined – vernacular, French colonial and modern. Many examples of each type of architecture are shown in beautiful colour photographs, and there is emphasis on how some houses and buildings have been successfully converted into exquisite living spaces or adapted for other modern uses. Vietnam style today, which is born from a merging of indigenous, Chinese, and French artistic influences, can best be seen in modern Vietnamese art and architecture. The final chapters of this book showcase contemporary Vietnamese arts and crafts such as furniture, basketry, embroidery and lacquerware.)

Categories: Books Ceramics Epigraphy

New archaeology books on Select

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Here are the May 2007 additions to the catalogue of Select Books, a specialised publisher and retailer of books pertaining to Southeast Asia. For ordering info, please visit the Select Books website. You may also want to visit the SEAArch bookstore for other books on southeast asian archaeology.

Historical Dictionary Of Ancient Southeast Asia (Historical Dictionaries Of Ancient Civilizations And Historical Eras, No. 18). Miksic, John N.. Us. 2007. 497pp. hc $229.45 (Anyone who has seen the stunning ruins at Angkor, Bagan, and Borobudur will readily understand why Southeast Asia is the host of so many United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization World Heritage Sites. As beautiful as the spiralling towers, intricate carvings, and delicate bas-reliefs adorning these monuments are, however, they just barely scratch the surface of the immense historical and cultural heritage of the region. Covering the countries of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam during the period from the first to the 15th century, the Historical Dictionary of Ancient Southeast Asia helps us comprehend the vast and complex history of the region through a chronology, a glossary, a bibliography, an introduction, appendixes, maps, photographs, diagrams, and hundreds of cross-referenced dictionary entries on the major (and many minor) sites, the more significant historical figures, the kingdoms they ruled over, the economic and social relations between them, and the artistic, cultural, and religious context.)

Legacy Of The Barang People, The: An Exploration Into The Puzzling Similarities Of The Hungarian And Malay Languages. Busztin, György. Sg. 2006. 118pp. pb $28.75 (This groundbreaking and tentative piece of research and speculation deals with the many apparent linkages between Malay and the Hungarian/Magyar languages which were spoken some 3000 years ago in Central Asia. Some established theories of language development are overviewed. What is known of the early history and prehistory of population movements in Eurasia is summarised. With bibliography and charts.)

Sakyans Of South-East Asia, The: An Introspection Or Tracing Roots. Talukdar, S. P..In. 2006. 256pp. hc $31.00 (The Buddha, Prince Siddharta, was born a Sakya in the 5th century BCE. This genealogical line has continued into numerous ethnic groups in Southeast Asia. In this highly individual study, ideas, myths and facts related to the origins and history of the Sakyan people are set out and discussed.)

Bayon Of Angkor Thom, The (Special Order Item). Sahai, Sachchidanand. Th. 2007. 146pp. pb $60.00 (This is an in-depth analysis of the Bayon of Angkor Thom, a monument which may hold the key to the understanding of the Khmer civilisation. The Bayon’s role as the geometric centre of the city of Angkor Thom and as a veritable microcosm of the Khmer world is explained in this monograph, which is based on notes that the author had been collecting from Sanskrit and Khmer epigraphic sources and French scholarly writings for over 40 years. He unveils the Bayon’s layout and architectural features, examines the reconstitution of its central image from innumerable fragments, and the enigma of its colossal face-towers. He also follows various theories about the monument and questions certain scientific descriptions. With plans, references, index and numerous black-and-white and colour photographs.)

Diamond Book Of Hindu Gods And Goddesses, The: Their Hierarchy And Other Holy Things. Mathur, Suresh Narain; B. K. Chaturvedi. In. 2005. 77pp. hc $31.00 (Hindu mythology is a rich store of stories about supernatural personalities and events, written and re-written by scholars over thousands of years. It can prove incoherent and confusing to the general reader. This illustrated treatise attempts to put much of the popular available information in a nutshell and in accessible language. This book also pays attention to other aspects of Hinduism such as Hindu beliefs, sanskars, idolized saints, the cosmic cycle, mythological events, the Hindu calendar and more.)

Austronesian Diaspora And The Ethnogeneses Of People In The Indonesian Archipelago Proceedings Of The International Symposium. Simanjuntak, Truman; I. H.E. Pojoh et al (eds.). Id. 2006. 438pp. pb $47.00 (The dispersal of the Austronesian diaspora was wide, stretching from Madagascar to Easter Island, and from Taiwan and Micronesia to New Zealand, including Indonesia. Austronesia is the root of the recent culture, history, and ethnogeneses of the Indonesian peoples. For this reason, the first international symposium on this subject was held in Solo from 28 June to 1 July 2005. The proceedings are presented in this book, which contains four main sections: an introduction; the environmental background; the Austronesian origin, dispersal and ethnogeneses; and the Austronesian language today. The 28 papers and abstracts submitted by Indonesian and foreign specialists discuss new findings and insights about Austronesian studies from the perspectives of paleoclimatology, paleogeography, paleoanthropology, anthropology, genetics, archaeology, and linguistics. While a large majority of the contributions address the question of the Austronesian in Indonesia, five of them discuss the Austronesian on the islands of Southeast Asia, in Borneo, in Singapore, in Malaysia and in the Philippines. With references and illustrations.)

Tanah Tujuh: Close Encounters With The Temuan Mythos. Antares. My. 2007. 208pp. pb $24.15 (The traditional ways of life of Malaysia’s Orang Asli (aborigine) people are fast disappearing. This is a retelling of some of the tales and myths of the Temuan Orang Asli people of Ulu Selangor, one of the 18 surviving tribal groups of Peninsular Malaysia. The author’s ongoing friendship with the tribe enables him to share the fears and upheavals by which modern economic policies is destroying the Temuan’s future and way of life. With graphics, black-and-white photographs, Temuan glossary, bibliography and index.)

Dictionary Of South & Southeast Asian Art. Chaturachinda, Gwyneth; S. Krishnamurty et al. In. 2006. 240pp. pb $18.00 (2006 second edition of the 2004 dictionary of more than 1300 terms used in the art and architecture of South and Southeast Asia, and in the region’s history, religion and mythology. With line illustrations, chronology of the region, reading list and addresses of major museums.)

Icons Of Art: The Collection Of The National Museum Of Indonesia. Miksic, John; Joop Avé (eds.). Id. 2007. 308pp. hc $78.75 (The origins of the National Museum of Indonesia can be traced back to 1778 and many of the thousands of artefacts in its collections have never been exhibited. Finely illustrated specialist articles indicate the magnificence of the collections. They describe: the evolution of the National Museum; the collections of three centuries; statuary and inscriptions; heirlooms; cloths; porcelain and terra cotta; theatre and masks; glorious metals; and future trends and possibilities. The volume will prove a treasure house for anyone interested in the art or history of Southeast Asia. With bibliography and the Museum’s timeline.)

Secrets Of Southeast Asian Textiles, The: Myths, Status And The Supernatural. Puranananda, Jane (ed.). Th. 2007. 215pp. pb $94.50 (Throughout Asia, textiles have played an important role in concepts of power and kingship and are also closely associated with shamanistic, Buddhist and Islamic beliefs. The 15 papers presented in this work represent the scholarship and research of leading scholars from around the world who participated in The James H. W. Thompson Foundation symposium, Status, Myth and the Supernatural – Unraveling the Secrets of Southeast Asian Textiles, which was held in Bangkok, August 2005. The papers are fully supported by colour illustrations and they discuss: the comparisons between Bhutanese and Southeast Asian textiles; Cambodian textile hangings; Indian figurative textiles in Indonesia; barkcloth skirts in Borneo; talismanic textiles in Islamic Southeast Asia; shamanistic practices among the Shan; the textiles of the Chin, the Naga and the Mon of Burma; Lao women’s dress; monks’ robes in Thailand; the use of the pha sin to wrap Siamese holy manuscripts; royal brocades in the Siamese Court; textile motifs as indicators of status and religion among the Tai of Vietnam.)


Here are links to archaeology and research resources for Southeast Asia, categorised by theme and country. If you have a link to suggest, please get in touch! You may also be interested in our crowdsourced list of influential books about Southeast Asian Archaeology.

Southeast Asian Interest [top]

  • Ceramics in Mainland Southeast Asia – Collections of the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthuer M. Sackler Gallery
  • EFEO – Ecole Francaise d’Extreme-Orient or the French School of Asian Studies has historically done a lot of research in Indochina because of its colonial links. Website is in French.
  • H-SEASIA Discussion Network – H-SEASIA is a forum for discussion and communications regarding the history and study of Southeast Asia.
  • HOPSea – The Human Origins Patrimony in Southeast Asia, a multinational collaboration between European and Southeast Asian partners.
  • Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association – Founded in 1929, the IPPA is dedicated to the study of prehistory of Eastern Asia (70 deg longitude) and the pacific region.
  • It Surfaced Down Under! – A blog by Damien Huffer discussing the looted antiquities trade in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Maitreya – Maitreya is the student association for the archaeology of Asia, based in Leiden University in the Netherlands.
  • NAUSICAà– French National Sea Experience Center, in Boulogne-sur-Mer (Northern France), is a Science Center entirely dedicated to the relationship between Mankind and the Sea. Its goal is to incite the general public to discover the sea and to love it, while raising its awareness on the need for a better management of marine resources. (This link goes to NAUSICAÄ’s English site)
  • Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre Archaeology Unit Youtube Channel – A collection of Youtube videos curated by the Archaeology Unit dealing with the archaeology of Southeast Asia. The Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre is located in the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.
  • Sahul Time – An interactive map showing the sea levels and land mass size of Sahul (Australia and Papua New Guinea) and island Southeast Asia.
  • SEAMEO-SPAFA – The Regional Centre for Archaeology and Fine Arts, under the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation.
  • South and Southeast Asian Art and Archaeology Index (ABIA) – The ABIA Project is a global network of scholars co-operating on an annotated bibliographic database for publishers covering South and Southeast Asian art and archaeology.
  • Southeast Asia and Pacific Bioarcharchaeology – a newsletter run by Kate Domett at James Cook University.
  • Southeast Asian Archaeology Lab – Headed by Stephen Acabado at the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA
  • Southeast Asia in the Ming Shi-Lu – The Ming Shi-Lu is an open access resource to the annals of Ming China (1368 – 1644), in which place names and polities in Southeast Asia is featured greatly.
  • Southeast Asian Ceramics Society – Formed in 1969, the Southeast Asian Ceramic Society’s purpose is to widen appreciation and acquire knowledge of the ceramic art of China and countries adjacent to China, especially those of Southeast Asia. To pursue this aim, local members meet for periodic discussion, to hear talks by experts and to study and compare pots.
  • Southeast Asian Images & Text – A collection of teaching and research resources put together by the people at the University of Wisconsin. Contains a section of images of Angkor Wat.
  • Southeast Asian Archaeology Scholarly Website – funded by the Henry Luce foundation and hosted by the University of Pennsylvania Museum, this website offers a web-based bibliography and a skeletal database.
  • The Southeast Asian Treasure Connection – A website about shipwrecks, underwater treasure hunting and archaeology.
  • UNESCO Bangkok – Website of the Unesco office in Bangkok, which oversees Asia and the Pacific.
  • UNESCO World Heritage List Alphabetical list of the World Heritage Sites on the UNESCO register (812 and counting!)

Archaeology, Anthropology and History blogs and sites [top]

  •’s mission is to expand understanding and appreciation of humanity by way of creating a cohesive online community of individuals interested in anthropology. The website intends to lead the anthropological community by primarily promoting and facilitating discussion, reviewing research, stewardship of resources, public and professional education, and the dissemination of knowledge.
  • Archaeological Ethics Database – This database is an ongoing project by the Register of Professional Archaeologists (the Register) and the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA). The goal of the database is to bring together sources on archaeological ethics in a single place for the use of students, researchers, and professional archaeologists.
  • Archaeology – – A great starting point site for archaeology in general, with tons of information on digs, jobs, sites and issues.
  • World Archaeological Congress – The World Archaeological Congress is a non-governmental, not-for-profit organization and is the only archaeological organisation with elected global representation. Its programs are run by members who give their time in a voluntary capacity. Membership is open to archaeologists, heritage managers, students and members of the public. WAC seeks to promote interest in the past in all countries, to encourage the development of regionally-based histories and to foster international academic interaction. It is committed to the scientific investigation of the past, ethical archaeological practice and the protection of cultural heritage worldwide. It supports the empirical investigation and appreciation of the political contexts within which research is conducted and interpreted, and promotes dialogue and debate among advocates of different views of the past. WAC is committed to diversity and to redressing global inequities in archaeology through conferences, publications and scholarly programs. It has a special interest in protecting the cultural heritage of Indigenous peoples, minorities and economically disadvantaged countries, and encourages the participation of Indigenous peoples, researchers from economically disadvantaged countries and members of the public.

Journals [top]

  • Asian Archaeology – Publishes articles on all aspects of Asian Archaeology
  • Asian Culture and History – Published by the Canadian Center of Science and Education, Asian Culture and History covers topics such as culture, history, arts, anthropology, archaeology, religion, and linguistics.
  • Asian PerspectivesAsian Perspectives is a peer-reviewed journal focusing on the archaeology of Asia and the Pacific region. Articles from 1955-2008 are available online for download.
  • Antiquity – Covering world archaeology, but of recent years has featured many Southeast Asian papers.
  • Bulletin de l’ecole Francaise d’Extreme-Orient – One of the oldest Asian studies journals, BEFEO publishes in French and English. Archives available from 1901-2003.
  • Bulletin of the Indo-Pacific Prehistory AssociationAnother international peer-reviewed journal for archaeology in Southeast Asia, East Asia and the Pacific. Journal is open access.
  • Damrong – The archaeology journal of Silpakorn University.
  • Hukay – The journal of the University of the Philippines’ Archaeological Studies Programme.
  • Indonesia (Journal) – From the website: “Indonesia Journal”, is a semi-annual journal devoted to the timely study of Indonesia’s culture, history, government, economy, and society. It features original scholarly articles, interviews, translations, and book reviews. Published since April 1966, the journal provides area scholars and interested readers with contemporary analysis of Indonesia and an extensive archive of research pertaining to the nation and region. The journal is published by Cornell University’s Southeast Asia Program.” Articles dated before 2000 are available free for download.
  • Journal of Burma Studies – Open access, and one of the few peer-reviewed journals focusing on Myanmar.
  • Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society – Originally Journal of the Straits Branch, and then Malayan Branch and now the Straits Branch, the journal first published in 1878 and contains many scholarly articles on the culture, history and archaeology of Malaysia and its peoples.
  • Journal of the Siam Society – Established in 1904, the Journal of the Siam Society publishes original scholarly articles in English pertaining to Thailand. Articles are Open Access from 1904 – 2011.
  • Muang Boran Journal – A journal dealing with Thai Archaeology.
  • Pratu – the Journal of Buddhist and Hindu Art, Architecture and Archaeology of Ancient to Premodern Southeast Asia is an initiative of a group of research students in the Department of History of Art and Archaeology at SOAS University of London in collaboration with departmental mentors. The journal is funded by the Alphawood Foundation, under the auspices of the Southeast Asian Art Academic Programme (SAAAP).
  • Repositori Institusi Kemendikbud RI – The Institutional Repository of the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture. The link directs to a search of all archaeological material in the repository.
  • Southeast Asian Archaeology Repository of Knowledge – A repository maintained by the Nalanda-Sriwajaya Centre hosting published and unpublished reports on Southeast Asian archaeology.
  • SPAFA Journal – The journal of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization Regional Centre of Archaeology and Fine Arts (SPAFA). Page links to four micro-sites, the current SPAFA Journal, the old SPAFA Journal (1991-2013), the SPAFA Digest (1980-1990) and various SPAFA Publications. [Disclosure: I serve as the Managing Editor for the SPAFA Journal in as part of my duties at SEAMEO SPAFA]
  • Wacana – the Journal of the Humanities of Indonesia is a scholarly journal of the Faculty of Humanities, Universitas Indonesia, and is a medium for scholarly discussion, description, and surveys concerning literature, linguistics, archaeology, history, philosophy, library and information studies, religion, art, and interdisciplinary studies. The journal is published twice a year.

Research Resources [top]

  • Acronyms used by Asian/Pacific Scholars: a DictionaryMaintained by Ciolek and Noyce at the Research School of Asian and Pacific Studies at the Australian National University in Canberra, this is a comprehensive A-Z web resource for scholars in the Asian and Pacific region. Note that the abbreviation for this website is SEAArch.
  • Asian Studies Toolbar A great web tool for researchers focusing in asia, the Asian Studies toolbar is an add-on to your Firefox and Internet Explorer browser with built in links to numerous Asian resources – weather forecasts, newspapers, and yes, this website as well.
  • The Corpus of the Inscriptions of Campā – The Corpus of the Inscriptions of Campā is a publication of the École française d’Extrême-Orient, realized in collaboration with the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University. This project aims to recover, preserve, study and make accessible the corpus of inscriptions of ancient Campā (in present Việt Nam), written either in Sanskrit or in Old Cam.
  • EFEO Image archives – Archival images collected by the École française d’Extrême-Orient, available online.
  • H-SEASIA Discussion NetworkH-SEASIA is a forum for discussion and communications regarding the history and study of Southeast.
  • International Council of Museums
  • Interpol Database of Stolen art
  • Khmer Inscriptions Program – Online database of K-inscriptions. In French.
  • ResearchSEA – ResearchSEA is Asia’s first research news portal, a one-stop centre where journalists and members of the public can gain access to news and local experts from the research world in Asia.
  • Southeast Asia in the Ming Shi-Lu – The Ming Shi-Lu is an open access resource to the annals of Ming China (1368 – 1644), in which place names and polities in Southeast Asia is featured greatly.
  • Southeast Asian Archaeology Scholarly Website funded by the Henry Luce foundation and hosted by the University of Pennsylvania Museum, this website offers a web-based bibliography and a skeletal database.
  • UNESCO Database of National Cultural Heritage Laws
  • World Monuments Fund – runs a number of projects in Southeast Asia.

Museums [top]

  • Ancient Sculpture of Vietnam – 3D Virtual Museum – A virtual museum set up by Quang Tri Nguyen, which gives you an interactive close up on Vietnamese sculptures.
  • Angkor National Museum – Opened in 2007, the Angkor National Museum is located in Siem Reap and promises to show visitors the splendours of the ancient Angkor civilisation.
  • Asian Civilisations Museum – The museum’s collection features archaeological artefacts from Southeast Asia, China and India.
  • Bangkok National MuseumOfficial website of the Bangkok National Museum, which houses an archaeological and art history collection.
  • Da Nang Museum of Cham SculptureA museum dedicated to the sculpture of the ancient Cham, centred in South Vietnam. Website is in Vietnamese and English.
  • Jabatan Muzium Malaysia (Department of Museums, Malaysia) – The official government website for the Department of Museums, Malaysia.
  • Museum Nasional IndonesiaThe Indonesian National Museum.
  • Museum Pusaka NiasOr the Museum of Nias Heritage in Nias Island, Sumatra. The blogsite is mainly in Bahasa Indonesia.
  • Ni Xue Tang – A private museum in Singapore dedicated to Buddhist art.
  • Sculpture of Angkor and Ancient CambodiaVirtual tour of exhibition of the same name that was in the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. in 1997.
  • National Museum of Singapore – Collection showcases the history of Singapore from the 14th century to modern times.
  • Sarawak Museum – Borneo’s oldest museum has collections featuring archaeology and ethnology.
  • Southeast Asian Ceramics MuseumThe museum is located in the Bangkok University. Website in Thai, but there are links to the English-language newsletter which is regularly published.
  • Vietnam National Museum of History – in Hanoi
  • Virtual Collection of Masterpieces – Run by ASEMUS, a network of Asian and European museums, featuring some of the best offerings from the network’s collections.
  • Yale University Indo-Pacific Gallery – The Gallery’s Indo-Pacific art collection represents the art of maritime Southeast Asia and includes about 1,900 objects, with strengths in ethnographic sculpture, Javanese gold from the prehistoric to the late medieval period, and Indonesian textiles.

UNESCO World Heritage archaeological sites in SEA[top]

Cambodia [top]

  • Angkor Guide – An independent website by Johann Reinhart Zieger that provides background information to the many temples at Angkor, including practical information about visiting them.
  • Angkor Wat Minecraft ProjectA project to recreate Angkor Wat in the game Minecraft.
  • Angkor Research Program – An “international, multidisciplinary research programme interested in the decline of urbanism at Angkor”. The project is coordinated by the University of Sydney.
  • APSARA Authority – The Authority for the Protection and Managemen of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap. I think the name says it all.
  • Archaeological Projects in CambodiaA list of past and current projects in the kingdom run by Alison Carter.
  • Cambodian Archaeological Lidar Initiative – Project website of the Lidar imaging programme.
  • The Database of the Restoration Work of the Southern Library of BayonBy a collaboration between Japan and the APSARA Authority.
  • Heritage Watch – Heritage Watch aims to address the problem of the trade in antiquities in Southeast Asia, particularly in Cambodia, by education campaigns, tourism campaigns and other means.
  • ICC Angkor – The International Coordinating Committee for Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor
  • Lower Mekong Archaeological Project – Run by the University of Hawai’i at Manoa.
  • Kerdomnel Khmer magazineThe website of a Cambodian magazine dedicated to Khmer heritage and archaeology.
  • Origins of Angkor Archaeological Project Directed by Professor Charles Higham, the Origins of Angkor project is a “multi-disciplinary research project being undertaken by the University of Otago Department of Anthropology and the Fine Arts Department of Thailand. The aim of the project is to assess the seminal aspects of the social, cultural and technological development in the Mun River valley of Northeast Thailand”.
  • P’teah Cambodia – A archaeology project directed by Drs Miriam Stark and Alison Carter investigating the archaeology of households and non-elites in Cambodia
  • Virtual Sambor Prei KukA digital reconstruction of a 7th century temple from the University of California, Berkley

East Timor (Timor Leste) [top]

Indonesia [top]

  • Borobudur on Project Jigsawby the Australian National University.
  • Banda Islands Archaeology Website – An archaeology project in the Banda Islands in East Indonedia led by the University of Washington and Gadjah Mada University to uncover the archaeology of this region.
  • Banda Islands Field School Blog – A blog run by the students and instructors attending an 8-week field school at the Banda Islands in early 2009.
  • EFEO Jakarta blog (French/Bahasa Indonesia) – Blog run by the Jakarta branch of the Ecole Francaise d’Extreme-Orient.
  • Tanah Datar Archaeological Project – An excavation blog for the Tanah Datar Archaeological Project, running from 1 March – 8 April 2012, by Universitas Indonesia and the Frei Universität Berlin.

Laos [top]

Malaysia [top]

  • Caves of Malaysiarun by speleologist Liz Price, a good source of geological, botanical, zoological and archaeological information to caves in Malaysia.
  • Heritage Trust of MalaysiaBadan Warisan, or the Heritage Trust of Malaysia, is an NGO dedicated to conserving and educating about Malaysia’s built heritage.
  • History of the Malay PeninsulaAn informative overview about the ancient history of the Malay Peninsula, by writer Sabri Zain, starting from the 1st century AD. Brief introductions to the Buddhist and Hindu periods to the start of the Melaka Sultanate.
  • Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (MBRAS)Incorporating the Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (JMBRAS), that publishes occasional papers on Malaysian archaeology.
  • Malaysian TimelineA timeline describing the preiods of Malaysian history from prehistory to modern times.
  • Maritime Asia Website of the Maritime Archaeology Exhibition at the Muzium Negara, featuring 7 shipwrecks found in Malaysia’s waters.
  • Nanhai Marine Archaeology Sdn. Bhd.A Malaysia-based company the specialises in historical shipwrecks and the history and development of Chinese and Southeast Asian ceramics.
  • The Niah Cave Project – An archaeological project by the University of Leicester.
  • Perak Man and the Lenggong Archaeological Museum by Liz Price, spelaelogical consultant. Posted in 2004 at
  • The Cultured Rainforest Project – is headed by the University of Cambridge to investigate the people of the Kelabit Highlands and their interactions with the forest in the present and past.

Myanmar (Burma) [top]

Philippines [top]

Singapore [top]

  • Maritime ExplorationsMaritime Explorations is a Singapore-based salvage and project coordination company specialising in historical shipwrecks.
  • Southeast Asian ArchaeologyFocuses mainly on Singapore, with links to ongoing projects in Indonesia.
  • Spatial Discovery – A collection of over 3,000 maps from the last 200 years organised by the National Libary of Singapore.
  • World of TemasekA Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) that is set in 14th century Singapore. Based on the actual archaeology of Singapore.

Thailand [top]

  • Ban Chiang Project, The – Hosted by the University of Pennsylvania, the Ban Chiang Project is a comprehensive website about Ban Chiang with the aims: “to introduce newcomers to the fascinating archaeological discoveries at Ban Chiang; and second, to keep our friends and colleagues informed on our progress”.
  • Highland Archaeology Project in Pang Mapha District, Mea Hong Son Province Phase 2a multidisciplinary archaeological project investigating the different cultures from ancient times to present in in Northwest Thailand.
  • Office of Archaeology, Thai Fine Arts Department – Just like what it says, but the site is in Thai.
  • Origins of Angkor Archaeological Project Directed by Professor Charles Higham, the Origins of Angkor project is a “multi-disciplinary research project being undertaken by the University of Otago Department of Anthropology and the Fine Arts Department of Thailand. The aim of the project is to assess the seminal aspects of the social, cultural and technological development in the Mun River valley of Northeast Thailand”.
  • Temple Site at Phimai – A computer recontruction of the Khmer temple site of Phimai.

Vietnam [top]

Selections, November 2006

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A selection of archaeology-related books, new to the catalogue of Select Books, a specialised publisher and retailer of books pertaining to Southeast Asia. For ordering info, please visit the Select Books website.

Chinese Potter, The: A Practical History Of Chinese Ceramics (Reprinted 2006). Medley, Margaret. Gb. 1989. 288pp. pb $55.65 (China has the longest and most highly developed ceramic tradition in the world, encompassing early Neolithic earthenwares, the finely glazed stoneware pieces of the Song period – widely regarded as among the greatest ceramics ever produced – and the years of Imperial patronage and export ware for the new markets of the West. Margaret Medley’s groundbreaking study was the first to bring a practical approach to the study of Chinese pottery. She makes full use of archaeological reports to show how differing geographical areas, materials and developing technology all shaped the evolution of Chinese ceramics. Her revolutionary insights, along with an astute critical judgement in the field of art history itself, combine to form a classic but approachable account which has profoundly influenced the way in which Chinese pottery is studied. First published in 1976, this is the fourth and latest reprint of the revised third edition that was issued in 1989.)

Message & The Monsoon, The: Islamic Art Of Southeast Asia. De Guise, Lucien (ed.) My. 2005. 237pp. hc $65.10 (It was Marco Polo who said, “It takes ships from China a whole year for the voyage to Southeast Asia, going in winter and returning in the summer. For in that sea there are but two winds that blow, the one that carries them outward and the other that brings them homeward; and the one of these winds blows all winter, and the other all the summer.” The monsoon winds were of vital importance to Southeast Asia in the age of sail. These winds brought with them more than just traders from China, India and Arabia. They also introduced Islam into the region. Southeast Asia became part of the most important mercantile network the world had ever seen until the 20th century. As a result, there is an astonishing accumulation of wealth and art to be found here, from Aceh in the west of the Malay Archipelago to Mindanao in the east. This catalogue is published in conjunction with the July 2005 exhibition of the same name at the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia. It features a comprehensive selection of Islamic artefacts that embodies the Muslim contribution to Southeast Asia. More than 150 artefacts dating from the 15th to 20th century, including manuscripts, textiles, arms, woodwork, metalwork and coinage, offer an opportunity to examine the evolution of a unique culture, one that fuses Islamic principles with indigenous customs. With notes, bibliography and glossary.)

Restoration Of Borobudur, The. Unesco. Fr. 2005. 288pp. hc $115.00 (Although the construction of Java’s Borobudur temples took many centuries, parts probably date from about 800CE. Both Buddhist and Hindu traditions are incorporated in the extensive terraced buildings. In the mid-20th century following great alarm about decay at the site, a UNESCO restoration project was initiated with support from 27 nations. This volume traces the temple’s history and the course and methods of the UNESCO reconstruction and Borobudur’s 1991 recognition as a World Heritage Site. Sketches, photographs, diagrams and much technical data shed light on the immensity of the work done in one of the most important restoration efforts of the last century. With bibliography, glossary and index.)