UNESCO World Heritage Centre – UNESCO Expert Meeting for the World Heritage Nomination Process of the Maritime Silk Routes

The Maritime Silk Route would naturally include many Southeast Asian stops.

UNESCO Expert Meeting for the World Heritage Nomination Process of the Maritime Silk Routes

There has been much discussion about possible strategies for the nominations on the UNESCO World Heritage List of the impact of maritime trade on the cultures and civilizations between East and West often referred to as the ‘Maritime Silk Routes’. The aim of this UNESCO Expert Meeting for the World Heritage Nomination Process of the Maritime Silk Routes, which will be held on 30-31 May 2017 in London, is to bring together scholars who have worked on the history, archaeology, and heritage of maritime interactions across this vast area in order to discuss the strategy for further research, as well as the development of a platform to enter into a possible dialogue with the States Parties of the World Heritage Convention along the Maritime Silk Routes.

Source: UNESCO World Heritage Centre – UNESCO Expert Meeting for the World Heritage Nomination Process of the Maritime Silk Routes

Call for Papers: International Conference Binh Dinh ancient ceramics

From the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, an international conference to be held in Binh Dinh province on 26th to 28th October 2017 (tentative)

In order to shed more light on Binh Dinh ancient ceramics and its role in the history of economic and cultural exchange between Champa and Dai Viet as well as other countries in South East Asia, the Research Center for Imperial Citadel (RCIC) – Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences (VASS), in co-operating with Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism – People Committee of Binh Dinh Province, are intending to organize the International Conference Binh Dinh ancient ceramics – Vijaya Kingdom and its relationship with Thang Long citadel – Dai Viet (11th-15th centuries) in Quy Nhon City, Binh Dinh province in late October 2017.

This conference seeks to summarize, evaluate the scholarly achievements of Champa ancient ceramics in Binh Dinh and issues related to the history of economic and cultural exchange between Vijaya Kingdom and Thang Long Citadel as well as other South East Asia countries in the past.

For more details, please download the flyer here.

Art on the Rocks – Discussing the future of rock art from Namibia

Last week I was in Namibia attending a colloquium on rock art organized by the Getty Conservation Institute. The aim of the colloquium was to share thoughts, ideas and solutions about rock art management, conservation and public engagement with perspectives from around the world, and it was a continuation of earlier discussions which began in Southern Africa and Australia (you can download the papers and results of the earlier colloquiums here).

Dancing Kudu from the Twyfelfontein World Heritage Site
Dancing Kudu from the Twyfelfontein World Heritage Site

The participants were a good mix of researchers, site managers, indigenous voices and artists, who each shared unique perspectives and case studies ranging from rock art films, community engagement projects, fund raising. For my presentation, I shared examples of rock art site protection from Southeast Asia, including bits of earlier research on how religious shrines form around rock art sites; the use of social media to engage the public (such as by reading this site, or following this blog on Facebook and Twitter) and highlighted the ongoing Gua Tambun Heritage Awareness Project run by the team at Universiti Sains Malaysia (also a site I had worked on previously). While my presentation was the only one specific to SEA, there were several other participants who have worked or are working in the region as well – a reflection of the growing interest in rock art here.

Catherine Namono of the University of Witzwatersrand discussing community-led rock art management
Catherine Namono of the University of Witzwatersrand discussing community-led rock art management

We also got to visit the world heritage sites of Twyfelfontein and Brandberg, known for rock art that was created by the Bushmen of Southern Africa. The rock art sites are several thousands years old, depicting animals such as giraffes, elephants, rhino and other wildlife. The rock art at Brandberg was mostly paintings, while at Twyfelfontein the rock art was predominantly petroglyphs (carvings) and it was interesting to see the contrast and also the number of sites.

Visiting the White Lady rock art site in Brandberg
Visiting the White Lady rock art site in Brandberg
The White Lady
The iconic ‘White Lady, which was discovered about 100 years ago – it isn’t actually a lady but a male shaman figure!
Twyfelfontein Lion Carving
The lion carving is the icon of the Twyfelfontein site, and is thought to be a depiction of a shaman because of the human hands depicted instead of paws
Zebra carving at Twyfelfontein
Zebra carving at Twyfelfontein
Dancing Kudu site from the air
Dancing Kudu site from the air

It was my first visit to Africa, and apart from the rock art sites there were also lots of animals to see!

Desert Elephants
Desert Elephants
Springboks
Springboks
Giraffes
Giraffes

Meetings like these are very useful to keep up to date with international trends, and also challenge one’s self with new perspectives. Australia and South Africa had clear leadership roles in the area of rock art management due to the number of sites in their region and also issues and experience in dealing with indigenous communities and having multiple research projects focused on rock art; in contrast, there aren’t many dedicated rock art scholars in this region, rock art management here depends largely on state intervention and in most cases Southeast Asian rock art has no ancestral connection to the people living in the area today. Still, I learnt a lot and will be applying some ideas to future rock art projects at my day job in SPAFA.

Dronie from the Brandberg White Lady site
Dronie from the Brandberg White Lady site

Many thanks to the Getty Conservation Institute for the opportunity to participate in this rock art colloquium, and in particular Neville Agnew, Nicholas Hall and Paul Taçon. There should be a publication from this meeting out hopefully by the end of the year, and I’ll post news about it when it comes out.

Pseudo-archaeology conference in Philippines next month

Warning: A pseudo-archaeology conference held next month in the Philippines plans to announce a new discovery in Mindanao using a new scanning technology that can purportedly penetrate 6 km into the earth. Just to be clear, the organisers of this so-called Asean Advanced Archaeology Symposium are neither affiliated with ASEAN, nor with any archaeological institute (university, government or otherwise) in Southeast Asia.

The symposium carries many red flags: it promises the participation of archaeologists and geologists from all over Southeast Asia, but provides no names. A quick google search of the organisation’s director reveals his theories about ancient alien contact, while another speaker mentioned in the article is the discoverer of the Bosnian “pyramids”, another archaeological hoax.

Where can you find a scanning instrument that can penetrate 6 kilometers deep into earth?

At the Asean Advanced Archeology Symposium, the “future of Archeology” will be unveiled from April 27 to 30 2017.

Source: Butuan archeology symposium to unveil ‘Geoscan Technology’ | Inquirer Technology

First Contact: Impact of Pleistocene Hominins on Island Ecosystems Conference

Readers in Australia may be interested in this free conference in Canberra on Pleistocene Hominins in Island Ecosystems – Southeast Asia is well represented.

Date: April 26 2017
Venue: Australian National University, ANU Commons Function Centre
Info: Contact Juliet Meyer, juliet.meyer@anu.edu.au

Islands represent unique ecosystems which are highly vulnerable to environmental disturbances, invasions, and natural disasters. Evidence of Pleistocene hominins on islands, however, is rare and largely restricted to a few islands in East and Southeast Asia, California, and the Mediterranean. This conference day will bring together researchers from around the world, specialising on the archaeological and palaeontological records of islands, to compare chronologies of hominin arrival, available technologies, ecological and geological events, and the records of extinctions. It will address the fundamental question of whether island overkill is a phenomenon restricted to post-Neolithic populations, or has always been a characteristic impact of our species.

CFP: Archaeology of the Seaports of Manila Galleon and the History of Early Maritime Globalization

Conference Announcement
Calling for papers of the international conference on “Archaeology of the Seaports of Manila Galleon and the History of Early Maritime Globalization”
July 2123, 2017Amoy, Fujian, China

 

During 16-19 century, the Spanish navigators established and operated the Manila Galleon maritime route which connected eastern Asia and New Spain in the American continent. The galleons sailed via the hub seaports and trade centers of Manila in the Philippines and Acapulco in Mexico, being a prosperous route for more than 200 years. This pioneering navigation of pan-Pacific regions promoted early global maritime trade and can be regarded as a new maritime Silk Road between the East and the West.

The Manila Galleon Navigation is an interesting academic theme which had been investigated and researched by multi-disciplines as archaeology, history, anthropology, marine navigation, oceanology, and etc. in last half century. The seaport sites and shipwrecks underwater are respectively 2 important types of cultural heritage contributing to archaeological reconstruction of galleon navigation history. An international academic workshop of “Early Navigation in the Asia-Pacific Region” was carried out at Harvard University in summer of 2013. Maritime archaeologists from United States, Mexico, England, Philippine and China met to discuss the early pan-Pacific maritime trade history focusing on the perspective of shipwreck archaeology of galleons (Wu, C. editor, Early Navigation in the Asia-Pacific Region: A Maritime Archaeological Perspective, Springer Press, 2016)

A further dialogue on the galleon and related history of maritime cultural interaction between the Eastern Asia and New Spain will be carried out at Amoy on July 21-23, 2017. The meeting calls for papers focusing on the newest developments in the archaeology of the Manila Galleon connecting seaports of Manila in Philippines, Acapulco and San Blas in Mexico, Hagatna in Guans, Haicheng (Amoy), Macao in China, Nagasaki in Japan. A dozen of presentations respectively on different seaports archaeological fieldworks will be welcome. We hope these archaeological discoveries on galleon seaports will open a new window for sighting and understanding the social cultural exchange on the new maritime Silk Road of pan-Pacific region in last 500 years.

 

Proposed topics:

1, New archaeological discoveries of Manila Galleon Archaeology and related seaports such as Manila in Philippines, Acapulco and San Blas in Mexico, Hagatna in Guans, Haicheng (Amoy), Macao in China, Nagasaki in Japan

2, Maritime cultural heritage of harbors, historical city architecture, maritime folklore and population of different Manila Galleon related seaports.

3, Transportation between Manila Galleon related harbors, and origin of the cargo such as the kilns of the ceramic industry.

4, Trade, merchants, business organizations and navigation, related to the Manila Galleon.

 

Conference information:

1, Time: July 21-23, 2017

2, Place: Xiamen University, Xiamen (Amoy), Fujian, China

3, Financial support: The organizer is the Center for Maritime Archaeology of Xiamen University. It will pay the authors’ air travel to and from Xiamen, accommodations and a field trip in Xiamen, during the conference if the complete submit paper is accepted by the organizers before the conference.

4, Conference contact:

Dr. Miao Liu, Associate Professor of CMAXMU, liumiao@xmu.edu.cn

Old Kedah Festival news roundup

Old Kedah, or Kedah Tua in Malay, and the archaeological findings of the Bujang Valley in northern Peninsular Malaysia were the focus of a local festival held last month. The events included an international conference, and from the news reports two themes seem apparent: the disagreement on whether the ruins of the Bujang Valley represent an animist or Hindu-Buddhist tradition, and the news that the remains of the Hindu temples that have previously been uncovered in the valley will not be nominated and protected under Unesco World Heritage. There’s a lot of subtext to read between the news reports, but it seems there is an attempt to downplay the influence of Hinduism and Buddhism in the Bujang Valley sites.

Source: Bernama, via Malay Mail 20160521
Source: Bernama, via Malay Mail 20160521

Experts disagree on religion practised at ruins older than Borobodur and Angkor Wat
The Star, 21 May 2016

World archaeological experts fascinated by Sungai Batu ancient site
Malay Mail, 21 May 2016

Ministry seeks allocation to develop Sungai Batu into historical tourism site
Malay Mail, 21 May 2016

No to heritage listing on Hindu-Buddhist temple ruins
The Star, 21 May 2016

Religious pluralism a likelihood in Bujang Valley
Free Malaysia Today, 23 May 2016

Ancient seaport of Sg Batu
New Straits Times, 23 May 2016

Sg Batu declared SEA’s oldest civilisation
Free Malaysia Today, 23 May 2016

Bujang Valley: Need for proof to be a heritage site?
The Star, 26 May 2016

SPAFACON2016

So you might have noticed I have been behind in updating news posts for a few months now, and for a very good reason. I’ve been organising the 2nd SEAMEO SPAFA International Conference on Southeast Asian Archaeology here in Bangkok, which saw the gathering of 230+ archaeologists from around the region to share their latest research.

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The conference started on Monday with three days of paper presentations, starting with the traditional country reports, and concurrent sessions that saw about 150 papers presented. Site visits to U-Thong / Nong Ratchawat and the Phanom Surin Shipwreck happened yesterday, and a workshop on English language skills for archaeologists is still ongoing as I write this. Throughout the conference we used the hashtag #spafacon2016, which you can follow on Twitter:

As well as on Facebook here.

All in all, the conference seems to be a success, despite the overzealous air-conditioning. I am biases, of course, but I particularly enjoyed listening to the new rock art discoveries from around the region and I’m looking forward to sharing the lectures of the presentations once they are ready. The next conference will be in 2019 – watch this space!

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Symposium on SEA and Australasian human evolution

Readers in Brisbane may be interested in attending this conference covering the latest of human evolution research in Southeast Asia.

Challenges and Opportunities for Human Evolution Research in SE Asia and Australasia
Griffith University
8 – 9 July 2016

The symposium is linked to the official launch of the Research Centre of Human Evolution at Griffith University. The symposium reviews the current research on human evolution research in SE Asia and Australasia and provides a platform to develop research synergies between Australian researchers, colleagues from SE Asia, and overseas. Invited speakers include Prof Francois Semah, Paris; Prof Chris Stringer, London; Prof Eske Willerslev (Copenhagen).

Register your interest here.

EurASEAA16: Poznań, Poland, 2017

Dear Fellows,

we are proud to announce that the next meeting of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists will be hosted by the Institute of Prehistory, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland. The 16th meeting of EurASEAA is scheduled for summer 2017. Bringing the conference to Poland will be a great opportunity for EurASEAA community to explore new territories and Poznań’s unique atmosphere of creativity and enterprise will foster fruitful academic presentations and discussions.

The Institute of Prehistory of the Adam Mickiewicz University, founded in 1919, is one of the leading Polish archaeological research institutions. The Institute focuses on landscape archaeology, methodology and theoretical archaeology and has made a great contribution in developing and promoting non-invasive methods in archaeological research. Additionally, researchers from Poznań are active “in the field” in dozens of countries in Asia, Africa and Europe. The conference venue is Collegium Historicum Novum, which opened in September 2015 as the new home of the Faculty of History.

Poznań is western Poland’s biggest city, halfway between Berlin and Warsaw. Poznań played a major role in Polish history as a seat of the early state’s rulers. In 968 AD the first Catholic Diocese on Polish soil was established in Poznań. Nowadays, thanks to well known diligence of Poznań’s people, the city is an important economic node of Central Europe and is home to branches of numerous international corporations, such as Volkswagen, GlaxoSmithKline or Bridgestone. The city offers a wide range of accommodation and is easy to access: Poznań can be reached in 2 h 30 min by train from Berlin, as well as Poznań Ławica airport serves daily flights to numerous destinations in Europe (base for budget airlines: RyanAir and WizzAir, direct connections to hub-airports of Frankfurt, Munich and Copenhagen).

More information will be announced in early 2016. We are looking forward to hosting you in Poznań.

on behalf of the Organizing Committee
magister Kasper Hanus
meeting secretary