Wednesday Rojak #6

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I might be away, but that didn’t stop me from preparing this edition of the Wednesday Rojak beforehand! Up this week:

More hobbit thoughts:

  • Suvrat Kher wonders if the Hobbit was our ancestor.
  • Julien Riel-Salvatore writes about the Hobbit wrists and new directions in the interpretation of the associated stone tools.
  • MumbaiGirl posts about sunrises and elephants at Borobudur.
  • A college history and geography tour visits the temples of My Son.
  • Eon and Chantell’s round-the-world trip also brings them the My Son sanctuary and the ancient town of Hoi An.

In this series of weekly rojaks (published on Wednesdays) I’ll feature other sites in the blogosphere that are of related to archaeology in Southeast Asia. Got a recommendation for the next Wednesday rojak? Email me

Related Books:
A New Human: The Startling Discovery and Strange Story of the “Hobbits” of Flores, Indonesia by M. Morwood and P. van Oosterzee
Little People And a Lost World: An Anthropological Mystery by L. Goldenberg
The Restoration of Borobudur (World Heritage Series)
The Lost Temple of Java (History/Journey’s Into the Past) by P. Grabsky
– My Son Sanctuary by Nguyen Van Binh
The Mysteries of Borobudur: Discover Indonesia Series by J. N. Miksic

Exploring ancient Kadaram

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There’ll be few updates this week as a leave for Malaysia this evening to visit my MA supervisor as well as make a side trip to Kedah – what used to be called Kadaram or Kataha in ancient times – to take a look at the Bujang Valley.

Of course, I’ll post about it when I return! In the meantime, Wednesday Rojak will be up as scheduled on, of course, Wednesday, and then look forward to Angkor-themed wallpapers that you can download for free on Friday!

Update:
You can see my Bujang Valley posts at
An archaeological region older than Angkor Wat
Bujang Valley Archaeological Museum

Buddhist and Hindu statues uncovered in South Vietnam

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28 September 2007 (Vietnam Net Bridge) – A Buddhist and a Hindu statue, both from different dates, have been excavated from the Dong Nai province in Vietnam.

Ancient stone statues discovered in Dong Nai

Two ancient stone statues which are believed to date back to between the 6th-12th centuries have been unearthed in Bien Hoa City in southern Dong Nai Province.

The first undamaged sandstone statue was identified as a Avalokitesvara piece, 70.2cm high and carved in a standing position.

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Heritage protection meeting in Cambodia

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27 September 2007 (BBC news) – International law enforcement agencies are meeting in Siem Reap to discuss ways to combat the illicit trade in stolen Cambodian antiquities.

Cambodia bid to protect treasures
by Guy De Launey

Cambodia has invited international law enforcement agencies to help protect the country’s ancient temples.

US homeland security and FBI agents are among those who may be advising the new national heritage police force.

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The leaf-books of Khmer monks

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23 September 2007 (Vietnam News, courtesy of chlim01) – The art of inscribing text on leaves used by monks in Cambodia is in danger of being lost as the sole monk with the skill takes a two-year break without finding any successor. The Cambodian version of the art is not old – only about 100 years old – but similar ancient traditions are found elsewhere in the region, for instance by the Cham in South Vietnam (see related story at the end of the post). I wonder if there’s a regional tradition of writing texts on leaves. Further south in Bali and Java there are copies of king-lists written on palm leaves. It occurs to me that the Malay word “buku” is a corruption of the English word “book”, but ancient texts surely existed before European contact. Today, virtually all textual sources of ancient Southeast Asia is based on carved inscriptions on stone. However, I would not be surprised if this region had a rich textual culture based on leaf-books such as the ones mentioned here.

Monks await next in line to record history [Link no longer active]
by Trung Hieu – Vien Du

On a quiet, peaceful afternoon, in a large, airy chamber of an ancient Khmer pagoda, two yellow-robed monks – one wrinkled, one fresh-faced – study a large Buddhist prayer book.

They must turn each page carefully, for the book doesn’t contain ordinary paper. Rather, its pale yellow pages are made of a special type of dried leaf, on which prayers and descriptions of historical events are etched in delicate Khmer script.

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Wednesday Rojak #5

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Hobbits! Hobbits! and more Hobbits! is the theme for this week’s Wednesday Rojak, which is not surprising since last week saw the release of a paper supporting the hobbit-is-not-human camp by describing the wrist bones of homo floresiensis as primitive, descending from an earlier hominin offshoot. Read about:

  • Kambiz Kamrani takes a closer look at the bone analyses outlined in the study.
  • The Cabinet of Wonders takes a step back to comment on the dynamics of opinion about the hobbit in Hobbits? It’s all in the wrist.
  • While Kris points out that between a new species of human or deformed, the hobbit might not even be human.
  • And for an overview of early human migrations through the world, TuLu Research posts a small map and timeline for your reference.
  • On an afterthought, 900 ft Jesus thinks that the whole Hobbit affair should really mess with creationists’ heads.

Of course, there’s some other stuff in Southeast Asia too, like:

In this series of weekly rojaks (published on Wednesdays) I’ll feature other sites in the blogosphere that are of related to archaeology in Southeast Asia. Got a recommendation for the next Wednesday rojak? Email me

Symposium of Mon studies at Chulalongkorn University

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24 September 2007 (The Nation) – A conference discussing the latest developments in the study of the Mon people, who now populate the area between Myanmar and Thailand, will take place at Chulalongkorn University from October 11 to 13. This article highlights some of the major papers that will be presented in the conference.

Palm-leaf manuscripts throw new light on ancient Mon kingdom
Mon has become the forgotten kingdom and the Mon have for centuries had no place to call home.
by Subhatra Bhumiprabhas

The history of the Mon, however, as one of the most powerful nations of Southeast Asia has been told through the generations.

Many fascinating stories in the Mon’s history and legends have been translated and retold in lots of papers – most have appeared in Burmese and Thai royal chronicles and many works on Mon studies in various languages were based on them.

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19th-century shipwreck yields Chinese ceramics

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24 September 2007 (VietNam Net Bridge) – Finds from a 19th century shipwreck were recovered off the coast of Ha Tinh province. The finds were mainly Chinese ceramics and were donated to the provincial museum. The story doesn’t say much else.

Sunk ship with antiques discovered in Ha Tinh

Ha Tinh Province Museum has recently received 300 ancient objects including numerous ceramic works discovered by fishermen in Cam Xuyen district in a sunken wooden ship.

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Newsweek on the Hobbit

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20 September 2007 (Newsweek) – Newsweek magazine features an interview with Matthew Tocheri, one of the investigators behind the Hobbit wrist study.

‘Tip of the Iceberg’
A new study of a skeleton of a member of a race of three-foot-tall ‘hobbits’ who lived 12,000 years ago in Indonesia shows that they were a species of human—and that the evolutionary path to Homo sapiens has been tortuous indeed.
by Jessica Bennett

It was an astonishing discovery: the skeletal remains of a new human species that lived for eons on a remote island while man colonized the rest of the planet. Back when it was first discovered in 2003, on the tiny Indonesian island of Flores, the three-foot-tall adult female skeleton was dubbed “the hobbit,” because she—and the 11 other skeletal remains that were found like her—bore more of a resemblance to the Tolkien fantasy characters than to modern humans. The hobbit’s discovery presented evidence that as recently as 12,000 years ago another species of human may have roamed the earth and, more startling, that our evolutionary history was a lot more complex than previously thought. Many scientists were more skeptical—the bones, they said, most likely belonged to a diminutive human with physical defects: a freak.

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The Primitive Wrist of Homo floresiensis and Its Implications for Hominin Evolution

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21 September 2007 (Science Magazine) – And finally, the abstract of the homo floresiensis wrist study from Science Magazine. Subscription required for full access.

The Primitive Wrist of Homo floresiensis and Its Implications for Hominin Evolution
Matthew W. Tocheri, Caley M. Orr, Susan G. Larson, Thomas Sutikna, Jatmiko, E. Wahyu Saptomo, Rokus Awe Due, Tony Djubiantono, Michael J. Morwood, William L. Jungers

Whether the Late Pleistocene hominin fossils from Flores, Indonesia, represent a new species, Homo floresiensis, or pathological modern humans has been debated. Analysis of three wrist bones from the holotype specimen (LB1) shows that it retains wrist morphology that is primitive for the African ape-human clade. In contrast, Neandertals and modern humans share derived wrist morphology that forms during embryogenesis, which diminishes the probability that pathology could result in the normal primitive state. This evidence indicates that LB1 is not a modern human with an undiagnosed pathology or growth defect; rather, it represents a species descended from a hominin ancestor that branched off before the origin of the clade that includes modern humans, Neandertals, and their last common ancestor.