El Nido cave proposed as heritage site

via Palawan NEws, 22 Nov 2017:

El Nido authorities want to declare the town’s archaeologically-important Ille Cave in Brgy. New Ibajay as a National Cultural Heritage Site.

Municipal Administrator RJ de la Calzada said they met with the National Museum last week to discuss the process of declaring the cave pursuant to Republic Act 10066 or the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009.

“We’re fast-tracking Ille Cave’s declaration at least by next year,” he told Palawan News on Tuesday, November 22.

Source: El Nido cave proposed as heritage site – Palawan News

[New Paper] Revisiting the Bujang Valley: A Southeast Asian entrepôt complex on the maritime trade route

New paper on the Bujang Valley by Stephen Murphy:

In the early 1830s and 1840s, a British colonial official by the name of Colonel James Low uncovered evidence for an early culture with Indic traits in a river system known as the Bujang Valley. On the west coast of the Thai-Malay peninsula, the Bujang Valley is today located in the Malaysian state of Kedah. However, it wasn’t until just before World War II that excavations took place, conducted by H. G. Quaritch Wales and his wife Dorothy. Their discoveries and subsequent publications led to the first real attempts to explain the origins and extent of this civilisation and its place within the larger South and Southeast Asian world. In the intervening years between Quaritch Wales’s excavations and the present day, considerably more research has taken place within the Bujang Valley, though this has not been without controversy. Recently claims and counter-claims regarding the antiquity of Hinduism and Buddhism at the site have arisen in some quarters within Malaysia. It therefore seems pertinent that this material be re-evaluated in light of new scholarship and discoveries as well as the prevailing paradigms of interactions between South and Southeast Asia. This paper presents an updated reading of this material and argues that the Bujang Valley should be seen as a cosmopolitan trading port with substantive evidence for the presence of Hinduism and Buddhism.

Source: Revisiting the Bujang Valley: A Southeast Asian entrepôt complex on the maritime trade route | Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society | Cambridge Core
https://doi.org/10.1017/S1356186317000505

[New Paper] Potent Places in Central Vietnam: ‘Everything that Comes Out of the Earth is Cham’

New paper in the Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology by Anne-Valérie Schweyer:

Set apart from the so-called ‘Hinduisation’ process, the Cham country is characterised by the presence of many sites or shrines dedicated to local deities. This paper—based on the analysis of archaeological and anthropological evidence—aims to identify these cults, to clarify the associated practices and to demonstrate how the local cults map out the entire local geography. Moreover, in central Vietnam, it is possible to precisely examine ‘potent places’ in order to achieve a better understanding of the local cults and the persistence of those cults from antiquity to the present. In ancient times, each local deity was connected to a political power, which ‘exhaled’ it and, at the same time, put a mark on the territory. The diversity of potent places allows a better understanding of puzzling territories. The continuity of ritual practices performed at Cham potent places, centuries after the disappearance of any form of Cham political power, shows the link between the first occupants of the land and the following Viet inhabitants.

Source: Potent Places in Central Vietnam: ‘Everything that Comes Out of the Earth is Cham’
https://doi.org/10.1080/14442213.2017.1370478

Culture Ministry calls for return of ancient Thai artifacts

via Pattaya Mail, 22 Nov 2017:

Bangkok – The Ministry of Culture is speeding up the process for the return of ancient Thai artifacts from overseas. The ministry’s ad hoc committee has called for the repatriation of artifacts that originated from Thailand and recently acknowledged the verification of 14 ancient items currently in the possession of the Honolulu Museum of Art […]

Source: Culture Ministry calls for return of ancient Thai artifacts – Pattaya Mail

New Paper: Evidence for the breakdown of an Angkorian hydraulic system, and its historical implications for understanding the Khmer Empire

New paper by Lustig et al. in JAS: Reports

This paper examines the construction and design of a 7-km long embankment, probably built for King Jayavarman IV between 928 and 941 CE, as part of a new capital. We calculate that the capacities of the outlets were too small, and conclude that the embankment failed, probably within a decade of construction, so that the benefits of the reservoir stored by the embankment and the access road on top of it were lessened substantially. We explain how the design was sub-optimal for construction, and that while the layout had a high aesthetic impact, the processes for ensuring structural integrity were poor. Simple and inexpensive steps to secure the weir were not undertaken. We speculate that this early failure may have contributed to the decision to return the royal court and the capital of the Khmer Empire to the Angkor region, marking a critically important juncture in regional history.

Evidence for the breakdown of an Angkorian hydraulic system, and its historical implications for understanding the Khmer Empire
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2017.11.014

Call for Papers: Conference on ‘Islam in the China Seas’

Organized by the Centre for the Study of Islamic Culture, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

March 26-27, 2018 (Mon & Tues)
Hong Kong

A vital passage between the Indian and Pacific oceans, the South China Sea, has historically been an arena of competition, as nations and empires have vied for hegemonic control over it for centuries. Tensions in the area have steadily risen in recent years and a maritime military buildup currently demands world attention as a flashpoint of geopolitical jockeying among regional and global powers. China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei have all staked claims to parts of this strategic and resource-rich basin, while the United States also seeks to protect its far-reaching interests there.

Long before the current geopolitical conflicts, the South China Sea was already a center of international commerce, comparable to the Mediterranean as a conduit of wealth and a melting pot of cultures, where both goods and ideas were exchanged. Commodities and technologies from the Indian and Chinese civilizational spheres were freely transmitted, and transported as far afield as Africa and Japan. Among the cultural cargo, religious teachings were also trafficked along the ancient maritime trade routes. Arab and Iranian merchants from the Persian Gulf had long participated in Indian Ocean trade, and eventually penetrated the Malacca Straits into the South China Sea. Starting in the late 7th century, after the establishment of Islam in Arabia, Muslim seafaring traders continued this tradition.

Thus, Islam spread into the China Seas via the so-called maritime extension of the Silk Road, and from there it reached the southeast coast of the Chinese mainland, as well as the peninsulas and archipelagos of Southeast Asia, and beyond. This conference aims to explore the historical, geographic, economic, social, political, cultural and religious contexts of the introduction and development of Islam in the greater China Seas region, from a multidisciplinary perspective.

Topics of research will include: trade and religious dissemination; Muslim settlement in the China Seas region; the introduction and spread of Islam in South China; Islamisation, assimilation and indigenization; and Muslims’ role in the spread of Chinese regional influence, among others. Such research represents an important component of the international and intercultural understanding underlying the “One Belt, One Road” initiative.

Dates: March 26-27, 2018 (Mon and Tues)

Submission of Abstracts:

An abstract of not more than 350 words should be submitted, with a short CV, to csic@cuhk.edu.hk before Friday, 1 December 2017. Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by Friday, 29 December 2017.

Language: English and Chinese

Contact information: For enquiries about the conference and submission of abstracts, please contact Ms Asiah Yang at csic@cuhk.edu.hk.

Hosting Institution: Centre for the Study of Islamic Culture, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

About our center: http://cuhk.edu.hk/rih/csic/

Contact Info:

For enquiries about the conference and submission of abstracts, please contact Ms Asiah Yang at csic@cuhk.edu.hk.
Contact Email: csic@cuhk.edu.hk
URL: http://cuhk.edu.hk/rih/csic/

Govt Plans to Relocate Hotels From Bagan Archeological Zone

via The Irrawaddy, 20 November 2017: Plans are being made, but negotiations with specific hotels have not yet begun.

The country plans to relocate hotels in preparation of the ancient city’s final nomination dossier to become a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Source: Govt Plans to Relocate Hotels From Bagan Archeological Zone

Follow Darren Curnoe on his Niah Caves excavation

Darren Curnoe of the University of New South Wales is on his three-week excavation of the Niah Caves in Sarawak and he will be tweeting and broadcasting his experiences on Facebook Live. You can follow his progress here:

Darren Curnoe – Anthropologist. 80 likes. Biological anthropologist and archaeologist with an insatiable curiosity about the kind of creature we are and how we came to be this way.

Source: Darren Curnoe – Anthropologist