Chiang Mai Museum reopens after renovation

via Bangkok Post, 27 July 2017:

The Chiang Mai National Museum has a new face after four years of renovation. Reopened on June 14, it brings exhibitions to life using state-of-the-art technology and presentations, and hopes to attract younger visitors.

Source: A new Lanna gem | Bangkok Post: lifestyle

[Lecture] A New Interpretation on the Eastern Limit of Ptolemy’s World Map and its Influence on European Worldview in the Evolution of Southeast Asian Mapping

Readers in Bangkok may be interested in this talk at the Siam Society by Trongjai Hutangkura on 31 August 2017.

The Geography, written in the second century CE by Claudius Ptolemy (c. 100 ce- c. 170 ce), described the Earth’s geography through knowledge from Greco-Roman trade routes. The map India beyond the Ganges presented geographical information stretching from the river’s east bank towards China. Although previous studies provided place-names based on cognate comparisons between Ptolemaic data and recent toponyms, the identification of the Ptolemaic eastern limit remains problematic, exemplified by a location known to the ancient Romans as Kattigara, possibly Hangzhou (China) or Óc Eo (Vietnam). My research raises the possibility of Kattigara being located in the vicinity of the Korea Bay, based on a comparison of geographical landmarks such as the river’s mouth and cape. Other possibilities may involve Suvarṇabhūmi and a town called Zabai (Óc Eo). Though geographic recognition of Ptolemaic toponyms has since disappeared, their graphic information is still acknowledged and carries some influence in Southeast Asia, including in maps compiled by European and Arab cartographers in the 12th-16th centuries. These maps are a blend of Ptolemaic place-names and navigational information of their ages, visualising an imaginary continent of Southeast Asia. My presentation will illustrate research on the identification of cartographic information of Ptolemy’s India beyond the Ganges and Chinese lands as the basis for the study of ancient Southeast Asian maps.

Source: A New Interpretation on the Eastern Limit of Ptolemy’s World Map and its Influence on European Worldview in the Evolution of Southeast Asian Mapping. A talk by Trongjai Hutangkura

[Lecture] A Mauryan–Śunga Period Ringstone: 3rd-1st Century BCE, found in Peninsular Thailand

Readers in Bangkok may be interested in this lecture at the Siam Society on 24 August 2017 by Anna Bennett.

In October 2014, a finely decorated Śunga ringstone was found by the owner of a sand quarry on the Tha Tapao River on the eastern side of Isthmus region of the Thai peninsula. The ringstone is a characteristic, almost defining object of the Mauryan – Śunga periods of Northern India, where possibly as many as 70 have been recorded from the Punjab, eastwards along the Ganges Valley to Bihar. A few ringstones are held in major museums outside India, including the Victoria & Albert Museum and the British Museum in London, the Asian Art Museum in Berlin, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Los Angeles County Museum. A few are also in private collections. The present example from Peninsular Thailand is the only one known to have been found outside the Indian subcontinent, thus providing yet more clear evidence for ancient contacts and trade between India and Thailand from the early centuries BCE, which long predated the establishment of the later Indian-influenced kingdoms in Southeast Asia. The function of these ringstones has never been clarified, although the author suggests that jewellery moulds remain a likely explanation for the extraordinary level of carved detail. Other suggestions have included that they were ear spools, although this seems improbable, on the practical grounds of their weight. Others have suggested a cult use or use as an apotropaic or physical contraceptive device due to the depiction of the nude mother goddess alternating with the ‘Tree of Life’. This ringstone was found at the same site as at least four very thin and fragmentary gold circular foils, which is the first occurrence of such an association, and lends weight to the hypothesis that the ringstones were perhaps, among other things, moulds for beating thin gold sheet ornaments. One of the gold sheets has an animal decorative motif which is very similar to that on the ringstone itself and the other has a repoussé design of interlinked ‘S’ motifs very similar to the only other known gold sheet, which was found in a burial context in India.

Source: A Mauryan–Śunga Period Ringstone: 3rd-1st Century BCE, found in Peninsular Thailand. A talk by Anna Bennett

[Lecture] Ancient Peninsular Siam and its Neighborhood

Readers in Bangkok may be interested in this lecture at the Siam Society by my colleague Wannasarn Noonsuk in 10 August 2017. Dr Noonsuk is the Senior Specialist in Visual Arts at SPAFA.

This talk provides observations concerning socio-cultural development in Peninsular Siam and its significance in maritime Southeast Asia since the Iron Age. This area between two oceans was an important link for the East-West maritime trade as well as a production hub of jewelry, tin and forest products since the late centuries BCE. Among several principalities later developed in this isthmian tract, Tambralinga was an outstanding kingdom. Its material remains from the 5th century CE suggest that Hinduism was prominent and offered different artistic idioms from the Dvaravati expression of central Thailand in the same period. In terms of social interaction, the distribution of Bronze drums indicates that the isthmian tract was part of the neighborhood of communities around the Gulf of Siam, which was a busy hub of trade and a large market with common vision. It is likely that the ornaments produced at the sites such as Khao Sam Kaeo and Phukhao Thong were for the growing market in the Gulf and beyond to the east, rather than for India in the West. The Vishnu images from this area may have been the prototypes of those in the Mekong Delta. Perhaps similar to the Funan polity of the 1st- 6th centuries, the Kingdom of Ayutthaya in the 15th century launched military campaigns to the peninsula as an attempt to control the Gulf neighborhood.

Source: Ancient Peninsular Siam and its Neighborhood. A Talk by Wannasarn Noonsuk

A Growing Archaeological Looting Network Between Thailand and Myanmar

via Tea Circle: Oxford DPhil Candidate Phacharaphorn Phanomvan discusses the emergence of small scale looting of antiquities in Myanmar and Thailand, particularly on how small antiquities like beads are thought to be desirable in the Thai market.

A heavy burden is placed upon governments of emerging economies to police looters and track down lost artefacts. These efforts would be better diverted towards addressing the demand side of the market, like sellers and collectors. At the same time, archaeologists should strive to develop an engagement approach with local communities and use heritage sites, even smaller ones, to develop alternative income and incentives. An increasing amount of grant funding for excavations now contains preferences for projects that can help develop local communities such as the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) funding for initiatives in Latin America and Cambodia. The Myanmar Archaeological Association (MMA) has started working with communities in Bagan and Pyu sites to encourage public awareness and develop local cultural management organisations for planning and resisting looting among villagers. These local efforts will need more funding and capacity building to expand towards sites outside Burman historical attention.

Most archaeologists agree that urban development, agricultural practice, and looting have extensively destroyed Thailand’s archaeological heritage. I write this in the hope that some efforts could be diverted towards containing ‘trinket’ collection trends among the growing middle class that have led to a very widespread and destructive small-scale looting practice. However, in the long term, it is necessary to develop a further understanding of the effectiveness of law enforcement on small-scale looting. To minimise looting, communities need to be offered better alternative careers that can potentially involve heritage development.

Cost of Trinkets: A Growing Archaeological Looting Network Between Thailand and Myanmar | Tea Circle

18 Mahakan houses spared from bulldozers

via Bangkok Post, 07 July 2017: After intense discussions between the Mahakan Fort Community, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, and the army, the BMA has decided to keep 18 out of the 30 houses as a living museum. However, much less certain is the fate of the community living there.

City Hall decided Thursday that 18 out of 30 houses will be spared from demolition at the Mahakan Fort community after final negotiations with residents.

Source: 18 Mahakan houses spared from bulldozers | Bangkok Post: news

See also:

Special Exhibition: Celebrating 130 Years of Amity between Japan and Thailand

via Japan Times, 04 July 2017: Readers in Japan may be interested in this special exhibition at the Tokyo National Museum, celebrating 130 years of diplomatic relations between Japan and Thailand. The exhibition is on until August 27.

Miniature Elephant, Ayutthaya, Early 15th century from the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum

July 4-Aug. 27 To honor 130 years of diplomatic relations between Japan and Thailand, the Tokyo National Museum is presenting 140 artworks and treasures th

Source: ‘Special Exhibition: Celebrating 130 Years of Amity between Japan and Thailand — Thailand — Brilliant Land of the Buddha’ | The Japan Times

See also:

Ayutthaya ruins to be promoted as night-time tourist destination

via NNT/Pattaya Times, 03 July 2017:

BANGKOK – The city of Ayutthaya has planned a special budget to install a lighting system at all its major ancient sites to attract tourists to visit at night. Director of the Ayutthaya Historical Park, Sukanya Baonert, has disclosed that a budget of more than 300 million baht has been allocated to make Thailand’s ancient […]

Source: Ayutthaya ruins to be promoted as night-time tourist destination – Pattaya Mail

Wat Phra Si San Phet gets the 3D treatment

Bangkok Post, 28 June 2017: The Ayutthaya temple of Wat Phra Si San Phet gets the digital 3D scanning treatment.

From now people will be able to virtually experience the historic city of Ayutthaya anytime and anywhere, as Wat Phra Si San Phet has been digitally preserved thanks to CyArk, an international non-profit organisation that works in collaboration with Seagate Thailand and Unesco.

Source: Capturing time | Bangkok Post: tech

Joy in Sa Kaew as US museum agrees to return stone carving to temple

via The Nation, 25 June 2017: A lintel from a Khmer temple will be returned from the US to Thailand where the temple stands.

About 100 local villagers attending a ritual to worship supernatural beings at Praasaat Khao Luon in Sa Kaew’s Ta Phraya district on Sunday were overjoyed to hear that the Khmer temple’s lintel would be returned from the United States.

Source: Joy in Sa Kaew as US museum agrees to return stone carving to temple