Secrets Of The Sea: A Tang Shipwreck & Early Trade In Asia

Antiques and the Arts Weekly, 09 May 2017

In “Secrets of The Sea: A Tang Shipwreck and Early Trade in Asia,” running through June 4 at the Asia Society Museum, 78 choice artifacts conjure trade on the flourishing maritime silk route that extended from the Abbasid caliphate to the Tang empire in the Ninth Century. As it turns out, active trading had been underway centuries before the Portuguese had arrived in search of goods and spices.

Curator Adrianna Proser hopes visitors will find the show intriguing, not only for its treasures but for its exploration “of the level of activity and exchange and trade that was crossing a large segment of the world so much earlier than people realized.”

Source: Secrets Of The Sea: A Tang Shipwreck & Early Trade In Asia

Maritime Grave Robbers Detained

The Maritime Executive, 08 May 2017: The Malaysian and Indonesian authorities have detained the MV Chuan Hong 68 and her crew, a vessel which is believed to be illegally looting shipwrecks (including war graves) in Indonesian and Malaysian waters.

 

MV Chuan Hong

Somebody has been stealing warships from Southeast Asian waters – more specifically, sunken warships, which are prized for their scrap metal value. Indonesian authorities now believe that they have caught one of the perpetrators: they allege that the 8,000 gt Chinese grab dredger Chuan Hong 68 was responsible for illegally scavenging the wrecks of the pre-WWII Japanese destroyer Sagiri, plus the passenger vessels Hiyoshi Maru and Katori Maru, the steamship Igara and the tanker Seven Skies.

It is the second time that maritime authorities have caught the Chuan Hong 68 in as many months. On April 20, the Indonesian Navy detained her in the waters off Natuna in the Riau Islands on the suspicion that she was engaged in illegal dredging. She escaped on April 22 and fled to Malaysia, where she was detained once again by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.

Source: Indonesia Captures Maritime Grave Robbers

See also:
Indonesia seeks Interpol’s help to find dredger (Straits Times, 23 April 2017)
The Thieves Who Steal Sunken Warships, Right Down to the Bolts (Outside Online, 02 May 2017)
Indonesia Detains Chinese-flagged Dredger for Looting Sunken Treasure (Netral, 07 May 2017)

[Lecture] Jakarta: Past and Present

For readers in Bangkok, there will be a a couple of talks at the Siam Society on the archaeology and urban conservation of Jakarta. The speakers are Annissa M. Gultom (Archaeology) and Bambang Eryudhawan (Urban Conservation). Admission is free. (Disclosure: I am personally involved in organising this event as part of my work at SEAMEO SPAFA).

SEAMEO SPAFA in cooperation with The Siam Society Under Royal Patronage Present
Jakarta: Past and Present
The SEAMEO Regional Centre for Archaeology and Fine Arts (SEAMEO SPAFA) and the Siam Society will organize two lectures on the archaeology and urban conservation of Jakarta, as part of SEAMEO SPAFA’s lecture series on the archaeology of the Capitals of Southeast Asia. The first set of lectures, focusing on Jakarta, will be delivered on Tuesday 23rd May 2017 at 18.30-20.30 hrs. at the Siam Society. The event is free of charge.

Details here.

Rock Art exhibition at Indonesia’s National Gallery

Jakarta Globe, 03 May 2017

National Gallery of Indonesia holds a rock art exhibition called “Wimba Kala” at the National Gallery of Indonesia in Central Jakarta until May 15.

Source: National Gallery Exhibition Reinterprets Indonesia’s Rock Art | Jakarta Globe

[Paper] The affinities of Homo floresiensis based on phylogenetic analyses of cranial, dental, and postcranial characters

This newly published paper by ANUs Debbie Argue has been making the news recently. A new analysis of the bones puts Homo floresiensis closer in time to Homo habilis than it does Homo erectus or Homo Sapiens, which suggests the the Hobbit’s lineage was more ancient than recent.

Although the diminutive Homo floresiensis has been known for a decade, its phylogenetic status remains highly contentious. A broad range of potential explanations for the evolution of this species has been explored. One view is that H. floresiensis is derived from Asian Homo erectus that arrived on Flores and subsequently evolved a smaller body size, perhaps to survive the constrained resources they faced in a new island environment. Fossil remains of H. erectus, well known from Java, have not yet been discovered on Flores. The second hypothesis is that H. floresiensis is directly descended from an early Homo lineage with roots in Africa, such as Homo habilis; the third is that it is Homo sapiens with pathology. We use parsimony and Bayesian phylogenetic methods to test these hypotheses. Our phylogenetic data build upon those characters previously presented in support of these hypotheses by broadening the range of traits to include the crania, mandibles, dentition, and postcrania of Homo and Australopithecus. The new data and analyses support the hypothesis that H. floresiensis is an early Homo lineage: H. floresiensis is sister either to H. habilis alone or to a clade consisting of at least H. habilis, H. erectus, Homo ergaster, and H. sapiens. A close phylogenetic relationship between H. floresiensis and H. erectus or H. sapiens can be rejected; furthermore, most of the traits separating H. floresiensis from H. sapiens are not readily attributable to pathology (e.g., Down syndrome). The results suggest H. floresiensis is a long-surviving relict of an early (>1.75 Ma) hominin lineage and a hitherto unknown migration out of Africa, and not a recent derivative of either H. erectus or H. sapiens.

Source: The affinities of Homo floresiensis based on phylogenetic analyses of cranial, dental, and postcranial characters

See also:

[Talk] Green, Blue, and White: The Tang Shipwreck Ceramic and Precious Metal Cargo and Global Trade in Medieval Asia

In conjunction with the Belitung Shipwreck exhibition at the Asia Society in New York, John Guy will be giving a lecture on 22 May which will also be broadcast live on the web.

Scholar and curator John Guy explores the unique insights that shipwreck archaeology can bring to our understanding of historical trade and exchange in ancient Asia.

Source: Green, Blue, and White: The Tang Shipwreck Ceramic and Precious Metal Cargo and Global Trade in Medieval Asia | New York | Asia Society

[Talk] Learning from Ancient and Modern Trade in the Spice Islands of Eastern Island Southeast Asia

Prof Peter Lape will be talking about his work in the eastern Indonesian islands at UCLA on Wednesday.

In historical times between the 16th and 20th centuries, the so-called spice islands of what is now eastern Indonesia were a zone of intensive interisland and long distance maritime trade. Archaeological evidence suggests that this interaction intensity has a relatively long history, dating to the early Neolithic period 3,500 years ago. Today, the large and small islands in this area remains intensively interconnected, and some of this trade is done by people using traditional boats operating under sail or paddle. This paper will explore how we can apply data from these different realms (documentary history, archaeology and ethnography) to expand our understanding of island connectivity at different times in the past and present, with implications for the future.

Source: Learning from Ancient and Modern Trade in the Spice Islands of Eastern Island Southeast Asia

Signs of early symbolic behaviour found in Indonesia

From the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, a new paper highlights discoveries excavated in Sulawesi from 30,000 years ago, showing that humans were engaged in making symbolic artefacts in the form of jewelry, portable art and used ochre (probably for creating rock art which we already know is very old in Sulawesi). The finds suggest a cultural sophistication that we rarely see this early in the archaeological record.

10.1073/pnas.1619013114

Wallacea, the zone of oceanic islands separating the continental regions of Southeast Asia and Australia, has yielded sparse evidence for the symbolic culture of early modern humans. Here we report evidence for symbolic activity 30,000–22,000 y ago at Leang Bulu Bettue, a cave and rock-shelter site on the Wallacean island of Sulawesi. We describe hitherto undocumented practices of personal ornamentation and portable art, alongside evidence for pigment processing and use in deposits that are the same age as dated rock art in the surrounding karst region. Previously, assemblages of multiple and diverse types of Pleistocene “symbolic” artifacts were entirely unknown from this region. The Leang Bulu Bettue assemblage provides insight into the complexity and diversification of modern human culture during a key period in the global dispersal of our species. It also shows that early inhabitants of Sulawesi fashioned ornaments from body parts of endemic animals, suggesting modern humans integrated exotic faunas and other novel resources into their symbolic world as they colonized the biogeographically unique regions southeast of continental Eurasia.

Source: Early human symbolic behavior in the Late Pleistocene of Wallacea

Other news reports listed below:
Researchers uncover prehistoric art and ornaments from Indonesian ‘Ice Age’

Prehistoric jewellery found in Indonesian cave challenges view early humans less advanced

Ice age art in Indonesia reveals how spiritual life transformed en route to Australia

In Ice Age Indonesia, People Were Making Jewelry and Art

Researchers uncover prehistoric art and ornaments from Indonesian ‘Ice Age’

Indonesia plans to develop spiritual tourism

A cultural introduction programme was held yesterday (March 27) by Tidar Heritage Foundation (THF) in Magelang city, near Borobudur temple, attended by representatives of embassies, among others from China, Lebanon, Oman, the Philippines, Australia, Germany, Hungary, Mongolia and Croatia.

The initiation event was themed a folk tale about a Mount Tidar-born holy man named Brotonirmoyo who spread teaching of spiritualism of peace and harmony regardless race, culture and religious differences in ancient era.

It is expected to promote Magelang as an Indonesian spiritual destination, making it an alternative to Rome or Jerusalem, said a THF official.

– See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/travel/article/indonesia-plans-to-develop-spiritual-tourism#sthash.9H5w1ML0.dpuf

Source: Indonesia plans to develop spiritual tourism | Travel | Malay Mail Online

Learn the science of the Hobbit in this free online course

The University of Wollonggong is offering a free online course on the science of Homo floresiensis, one of the most intriguing hominid finds of recent history.

In a cave on the Indonesian island of Flores, a team of archaeologists were surprised to find the skeletal remains of a mysterious new species. This free online course follows the incredible discovery of Homo floresiensis – or ‘the Hobbit’ as it has come to be known. Join us on a quest of discovery and adventure as the mystery is unravelled piece by piece using a variety of scientific techniques and archaeological approaches.

Source: Homo Floresiensis Uncovered – Online Course