Japanese scholar given Ramon Magsaysay Award for “selfless, steadfast service to the Cambodian people”

The results of this year’s Ramon Magsaysay’s Award, sometimes called the Asian Nobel Prize, are out – a notable recipient of the award this year is Prof. Yoshiaki Ishizawa of Sophia University, who is recognised for his long career in cultural heritage preservation of Angkor. Congratulations, Professor Ishizawa!

  • Ishizawa devoted fifty years of his life to help assure that Angkor Wat survives and remains a living monument for Cambodians.
  • Starting in 1980, Ishizawa worked side by side with Cambodians, networked with international experts and organizations, campaigned in the Japanese media to generate awareness and support, and devised programs for Angkor’s protection and conservation.
  • Ishizawa has been relentless in building local expertise and commitment to Angkor’s preservation. He quietly but adamantly insists, “The protection and restoration of the sites of Cambodia should be carried out by the Cambodians, for the Cambodians.”
  • In electing Yoshiaki Ishizawa to receive the 2017 Ramon Magsaysay Award, the board of trustees recognizes “his selfless, steadfast service to the Cambodian people, his inspiring leadership in empowering Cambodians to be proud stewards of their heritage, and his wisdom in reminding us all that cultural monuments like the Angkor Wat are shared treasures whose preservation is thus, also our shared global responsibility.”

Source: Ishizawa, Yoshiaki • The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation • Honoring greatness of spirit and transformative leadership in Asia

See also:

Join me at Pint of Science Thailand 15-17 May

If you’re in Bangkok next week, join the Pint of Science Festival which will be held for the first time in Thailand. Pint of Science brings science to the public by bringing researchers to the the pub. I have a spot on Tuesday, 16 May – the only archaeology presentation! Tickets are free, but registration is required and snacks are included.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Elephants: The unseen cave paintings of Southeast Asia
Noel Hidalgo Tan (SEAMEO SPAFA)

Step into the world of rock art – filled with carvings of gods, cave paintings and reminders of humankind’s long interaction with the landscape. Like the landscapes of Australia and South Africa, Southeast Asia is home to hundreds of rock art sites even as most of them are unknown or inaccessible. What have archaeologists learned about the past through these ancient images?!

Source: Pint of Science Thailand | Tuesday 16th May

ABC Radio with archaeologist Bob Hudson on Bagan

ABC Radio, 28 April 2017: Archaeologist Bob Hudson talks about the archaeology of Bagan. MP3 download available

Uncovering the Buddhist temples and relics of Bagan

Source: Archaeologist Bob Hudson on Myanmar’s ancient civilisation of Bagan – Conversations – ABC Radio

Siam Society – Lecture

If anyone’s in Bangkok next week (9 March), I’m giving an introductory talk about the rock art of Southeast Asia at the Siam Society. Hope to see you there, especially if you follow this site!

Rock Art: The Unseen Art of Southeast Asia. A Talk By Noel Hidalgo Tan

Source: Siam Society – Lecture

Cultural Heritage Education in the Philippines

A profile of Philippine archaeologist Mylene Lising and her work in cultural heritage education.

Mylene Lising. Source: CNN Life 20160715
Mylene Lising. Source: CNN Life 20160715

A Filipino archaeologist’s mission to make prehistory relevant today
CNN Life, 15 July 2016

Growing up in Tuguegarao, Cagayan, she lived 40 minutes east of modern-day Kalinga, where stegodon fossils were found, and 40 minutes west of Callao Cave in Peñablanca, where the oldest human fossil in the Philippines was excavated. “That kind of stuck to the back of my mind,” she says about her childhood.

But it was only when her fine arts professor asked her to do a research paper on prehistoric art in the Philippines that she first did any in-depth learning on archaeology. From then on, she never looked back.

While studying to get where she is today, Lising found herself asking questions that could change the course of her career: “Why am I going into this field? Is it only for my amusement? Parang, that’s so vague.” She said that her work in archaeology had to serve a bigger purpose. It had to add value to people’s lives. That’s how she decided to focus on cultural heritage management.

Full story here.

The household archaeology of Angkor Wat

Dr Alison Carter’s article for the Khmer Times on her work on household archaeology at Angkor Wat.

Excavations at Angkor Wat. Source: Khmer Times 20160707
Excavations at Angkor Wat. Source: Khmer Times 20160707

Household Archaeology at Angkor Wat
Khmer Times, 07 July 2016

When you picture Angkor Wat, you might think of the imposing and elegant temple surrounded by a thick forest of trees. However, archaeologists now know that when Angkor Wat was built, it was surrounded by a series of mounds that are likely places where people lived.

Angkor Wat is just one temple in the Angkorian Empire, the heart of which covered an area of 1,000 square kilometers and may have contained a population of as many as 750,000 people. Investigating the question of where Angkorian people lived is one focus of the Greater Angkor Project (GAP), a collaborative research program between the University of Sydney and the APSARA Authority, directed by Dr. Roland Fletcher.

One way to begin understanding the lives of the non-elite members of Angkor is by excavating their households. Through excavations of their living spaces, archaeologists can understand the daily practices of people in the past. This kind of work can also tell us more about the variation between different households, communities and settlements, as well as the differences between elites and non-elites. In this way, we can come to understand Angkorian society from the ground up.

Full story here.

Profile on Dr Alison Carter

The Phnom Penh Post’s feature on Dr Alison Carter, a personal friend of mine, and her work in household archaeology in Cambodia.

Dr Alison Carter. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160704
Dr Alison Carter. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160704

Digging beneath the surface
Phnom Penh Post, 04 July 2016

For many expats, Cambodia is no more than another country to be ticked off the list of places to spend two years before moving on to the next posting. But that’s not the case for archaeologist Dr. Alison Carter.

Currently based in Siem Reap, American Dr. Carter is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

She first came to Cambodia in 2005 to work with the Lower Mekong Archaeological Project at Angkor Borei in Takeo Province, and fell in love with the country.

“My first trip here in 2005, I spoke no Khmer and knew very little about the country and yet the people I met were incredibly generous with their time and energy. They were willing to work with me and so I kept returning.”

Full story here.

Profile on Joyce White

A Wall Street Journal article on people who changed career paths features one of our own, Joyce White of the Institute of Southeast Asian Archaeology!

Archaeologist Joyce White. Source: Wall Street Journal 20160510
Archaeologist Joyce White. Source: Wall Street Journal 20160510

When You’re Called to Your Life’s Work
Wall Street Journal, 10 May 2016

Joyce White was an atheist as a graduate student and intent on being an archaeologist in Europe, something she decided when she was about 15 and saw cemetery excavations at medieval churches in England.

During a slide presentation of a professor’s excavation in Thailand, one image captivated her for reasons she still can’t quite explain. The photo was of a field he crossed en route to the site. Pack animals carrying his equipment rested in the field, which ended in a dark tropical forest.

“It was a vivid experience. I saw myself in that slide,” she says. “There was a compelling aesthetic draw of some sort.” She abandoned plans to work in Europe in favor of Southeast Asia. It was a leap. Her professor discouraged her, citing huge cultural and physical obstacles for a woman archaeologist in Thailand.

Full story here.

The legacy of the Ban Chiang discovery

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the Ban Chiang culture in Thailand’s Udon Thani province. This article from the Isaan Record features and interview with Dr Joyce White and her involvement with the site.

Burials at Ban Chiang. Source: The Isaan Record 20160420
Burials at Ban Chiang. Source: The Isaan Record 20160420

The legacy of Ban Chiang: Archaeologist Joyce White talks about Thailand’s most famous archaeological site
The Isaan Record, 20 April 2016

Fifty years ago in August, in the village of Ban Chiang near Udon Thani, a visiting American student named Stephen Young tripped over an exposed tree root and fell atop the rim of a clay pot partly buried in the village path. His tumble set into motion two joint Thai-American archaeological expeditions to Ban Chiang in the 1970s that exposed the extent of prehistoric burial sites beneath the village, sites filled with thousands of pieces of pottery and metalwork buried as grave goods by Neolithic and Bronze Age peoples at different times between 4200 and 1800 years ago. The Ban Chiang finds revealed unexpected technological and artistic development among the peoples of the region and challenged prevailing ideas about the prehistory of Southeast Asia.

American archaeologist Dr. Joyce White is the Director of the Ban Chiang project at the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia, USA, where she has studied the finds from Ban Chiang since 1976. She is an expert witness for the US Department of Justice in an ongoing antiquities trafficking case that in 2014 resulted in the return of many smuggled Ban Chiang items to Thailand.

Full story here.