Need a Date? Beta Analytic is giving away AMS dates in a raffle

We are inviting all undergrad and postgrad students who need radiocarbon dating to join our raffle. We are giving away five (5) AMS dates worth US$595 each. The raffle is open to all students in Europe, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America. We will select one winner per region.

To join the raffle, please fill out the form found in our raffle page which requires a description of your research that needs AMS dating. Winners are required to show proof of enrollment for any semester in 2018. For details, please visit https://www.radiocarbon.com/raffle.htm

Radiocarbon Date Raffle | Beta Analytic

Decolonise science – time to end another imperial era

via The Conversation, 05 April 2018: An important discussion to be held in the context of archaeology and Southeast Asia.

A long read on how science’s dark imperial past still shapes research today – and what to do about it.

Source: Decolonise science – time to end another imperial era

Why museum professionals need to talk about Black Panther

via The Hopkins Exhibitionist, 22 Feb 2018: Not directly related to Southeast Asia, and contains spoilers to the movie Blank Panther; but the scene in discussion takes place in a museum and is quite relevant in the Southeast Asian context where many exhibits were simple taken from their host countries and put on display:

It is worth considering the aspects of the scene that are realities in the modern museum. African artifacts such as those shown in the film’s museum are likely taken from a home country under suspicious circumstances, such as notable artifacts in real-life Britain like the Benin bronzes which now reside at the British Museum. It is often the case that individuals will know their own culture as well as or better than a curator, but are not considered valuable contributors because they lack a degree. People of color are less represented in museum spaces, and often experience undue discrimination while entering gallery spaces. Finally, museums are experiencing an influx of white women filling staff roles, leading to homogenized viewpoints, and lack senior staff with diverse backgrounds. With these truths represented in such a short but poignant scene, the tension between audiences and institutions is played out to the extreme.

It is uncomfortable for many institutions to even broach the subject of the museum’s complicated relationship with audiences of color, but Black Panther has created an impeccable opportunity for institutions to begin a dialogue with their community. So many people will see this film; the scene may only reinforce their conception of museums, or it may open their eyes to the realities of the complicated relationship between the universal museum and colonialism, and museums need to be prepared to actively engage with this topic rather than avoiding the uncomfortable truths that are now out in the open on cinema screens.

Source: Why museum professionals need to talk about Black Panther

Tracing the tangled tracks of humankind’s evolutionary journey

via The Guardian, 12 Feb 2018: A good simple primer on what we currently know about human evolution.

The path from ape to modern human is not a linear one. Hannah Devlin looks at what we know – and what might be next for our species

Source: Tracing the tangled tracks of humankind’s evolutionary journey

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.

The Lost City That’s Not Lost, Not a City, and Doesn’t Need to Be Discovered

Sapiens, 13 April 2017: This article talks about ‘lost’ temples in Honduras, but the example can apply just as easily in Southeast Asia (credit to Alison Carter for the link)

Modern explorers can “discover” an ancient site, but the people living in the area already have extensive knowledge about their region’s history.

Source: The Lost City That’s Not Lost, Not a City, and Doesn’t Need to Be Discovered – SAPIENS

The British Library is looking for a new Head of Asian and African Collections

Application deadline: 30 March 2017

Head of Asian and African Collections

This opportunity is compelling and without rival. It is a strategic leadership post where you will have the opportunity to work with fascinating collections of pre-eminent national and international importance, ranging widely in format in intellectual content, and spanning some 3000 years.

Source: Head of Asian and African Collections job with Sue Hill Recruitment | Guardian Jobs

East Asia in the annals of human evolution

Darren Curnoe argues that recent archaeological finds from East Asia and Southeast Asia hint at fundamental changes in our understanding of human evolution.

East Asia makes a comeback in the human evolution stakes
The Conversation, 22 January 2016

Archaeological discoveries in East Asia over the last decade or so have dramatically rewritten our understanding of human evolution.

But the implications don’t sit easily with many scholars internationally who continue to see Europe and Africa as the heartland of human origins.

For more than 150 years our understanding of human evolution has been largely shaped by the discoveries made in Europe and parts of Africa, like the caves near Johannesburg and the Great Rift Valley on the east of the continent.

Full story here.

Job Posting: Assistant Professor of Paleoanthropology (Boston University)

Boston University is looking for a biological anthropologist in a tenure-track position.

The Department of Anthropology invites applications from biological anthropologists for a tenure-track position at the level of Assistant Professor starting July 1, 2016. The department encourages applicants with a research concentration in paleoanthropology or the functional and comparative morphology of humans and other primates, who can augment and complement the program’s strengths in human and primate biology. Applicants should have a Ph.D. completed by the start date, proven teaching ability, and a strong record of research and publications. Applications should be received before November 1, 2015 to ensure full consideration.

Full listing here.