Making changes to the blog

Dear readers, you might have noticed of late that I’ve been updating this blog a lot less frequenly that usual, and not because there is a lack of news. On the contrary, there is an ever-growing backlog of archaeology stories from Southeast Asia that I have yet to post, but it has been increasingly hard to keep up!

When I started this blog 10 (!) years ago the internet was a different place. Back then, I used this blog to manually index all the news stories about Southeast Asian archaeology. Today, news is much more easily shared through social media. Combined with my day job at SEAMEO SPAFA, which keeps me pretty busy in the work of promoting research, education and capacity building in Southeast Asian archaeology, I have had less time to attend to this site regularly and I find that many of the news stories I have saved to post for later have already been shared.

No, I’m not taking the website down – I believe the site is still a great information resource, and on a personal level it has been an endeavour I am proud of. But the times have changed, and the way I run this site must change too. For a start, I will post news stories through the Facebook page and Twitter account – this will make the news more timely and frequent. So I encourage you to follow me on those channels. For those who prefer not to use those Facebook or Twitter, I will also put up a Facebook window on this site so that you can read the news without having to be a member of Facebook.

The site itself will be updated with posts that are less time-sensitive, what I call slow posts, such as calls for papers and upcoming conference notifications. These kinds of posts often get lost in the unending stream of news but they need some time to digest and respond to. I will also continue to update the resources page on the website, and maybe post the occasional drone video when it relates to something archaeological.

Moving the bulk of the news posts to Facebook and Twitter will keep to the original spirit of the site as an archive of archaeology news from the region. I’m open to other suggestions on how to make this website more useful to you in the future – leave a comment below or email me. Thanks again for following the Southeast Asian Archaeology Newsblog, and I hope to see and interact with you on Facebook and Twitter.

The Southeast Asian Archaeology Facebook Group

SEAArch on Twitter

Global implications of Southeast Asian rock art

Earlier this week, the journal Antiquity published a paper entitled ‘The global implications of the early surviving rock art of greater Southeast Asia’, which I was a co-author of. The paper touches on a number of rock art projects that have happened in the recent years: my contribution was on the rock art of Gua Tambun in Malaysia, which I investigated as part of my MA, and the paper also touches on the rock art of Cambodia that later became part of my PhD thesis. Other regions included Thailand, Myanmar and Indonesia – the last of which is fresh in our minds because of recent research that shows it was as old, if not older than the painted caves in Europe.

Source: Antiquity 88(342)
Source: Antiquity 88(342)

Since the discovery of the painted caves of France, rock art studies has tended to be dominated by Eurocentrism as the ‘origin’ of art. Far from arguing that Southeast Asia is the origin of art, we are beginning to see with Southeast Asia, and I expect in other parts of the world that the tradition of painting in rock surfaces was widespread, even in prehistoric times, and may have begun even before humankind started moving out of Africa into other parts of the world. This paper is a snapshot of rock art research in Southeast Asia, and I am glad to be part of it.

Links to the paper in article in Antiquity and some of the associated news stories:

The global implications of the early surviving rock art of greater Southeast Asia
Antiquity, 88(342): 1050-1064

New evidence of ancient rock art across Southeast Asia
Eureka Alerts, 25 November 2014

Ancient Rock Art Discovered Across Asia was Created by Prehistoric Humans
Science World Report, 26 November 2014

Ancient Rock Art Splattered Across Southeast Asia
Nature World News, 26 November 2014

Rock art origins reappraised
Phnom Penh Post, 28 November 2014
Continue reading “Global implications of Southeast Asian rock art”

Now reporting ‘live’ from Bangkok


I’m finally back from my holiday and have also transitioned to a new country – greetings from Bangkok! I just started with the SEAMEO Regional Centre for Archaeology and Fine Arts (SEAMEO-SPAFA, check them out here).

It’s a big move, from cool and dry Canberra to sunny and humid Bangkok, but one I am very happy to make. My role in SPAFA is to promote archaeology in Southeast Asia, and so there is much synergy between my professional role and my work with this website. As has been in my previous professional affiliations, I run SEAArch in a personal capacity and my personal opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of my employer.

I’ll be back to posting news again this week. In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed the first-ever Southeast Asian Archaeology Photo Festival that has been running the last two weeks. I think I will make it an annual event!

Time for a holiday!

Taking a short break from posting and I hope to resume near the end of September. Last week I submitted my thesis for examination and it is now the end of my Australian stint! It has been a good three and a half years. 

This weekend I leave Canberra for good – it’ll be time for short holiday but also a big move! If all goes to plan, I will be broadcasting next from Bangkok, where I will be based for the foreseeable future. If there are any readers based in Bangkok who would like to meet up (or even better, help me settle in!), send me a message!

In the meantime, while I won’t be posting new stories for a while, the Southeast Asian Archaeology Photo Festival will begin next week! I received over 20 submissions, and as expected, they are all very diverse! Stay tuned for a couple of new photos every day.

Not much time left to send in your archaeology photos!

If you’re still keen to share your archaeology photos, I’m equally keen to post them up! The deadline for photo submissions in August 28. Send me a photo related to Southeast Asian Archaeology with a caption and your name (and affiliation, optional). The virtual exhibition will begin next week!

Calling for Archaeology Photo Contributions!

And now for something fun and different! Do you have an awesome archaeology-related photo that you’d like to share? This is a call for contributions for the first-ever Southeast Asian Archaeology Photo Exhibition, to be hosted on this site. Archaeology is a very visual field and the subjects come in all shapes and sizes. Certainly from my fieldwork I’ve got tons of snaps of sites, artefacts and figures and I’m sure many of you do too. I’m inviting you to share one (just one) photograph showcasing your favourite archaeological site, ongoing archaeological work, recent discoveries, or a brilliant photograph that your friends really ‘liked’ on Facebook. This is a first attempt at a curating a crowdsourced photography exhibition, and I’ll have the entries up next month. Details on how to contribute after the jump!

A mould of a Buddha head at Poueng Komnou, Cambodia
A mould of a Buddha head at Poueng Komnou, Cambodia

Continue reading “Calling for Archaeology Photo Contributions!”

Some story on some Singaporean archaeologist

Singapore’s Straits Times ran a profile on me and my recent discovery at Angkor Wat (see here and here), on account of me being a Singaporean and all. Including for the archive!

Noel Hidalgo Tan, ie, me.
Noel Hidalgo Tan, ie, me.

S’porean’s discovery at Angkor Wat makes waves
The Straits Times, via Asia News Netowrk, 16 June 2014
Continue reading “Some story on some Singaporean archaeologist”

Now that's a lot of rock art

Something I’m working on at the moment is to try georeferencing every mention of a rock art site in Southeast Asia on a Google Earth map. Here’s the current work in progres:

Rock Art Sites in SEA
Rock Art Sites in SEA

Reds are painted and drawn sites, Blues are petroglyphs, and Greens are megaliths. I have been on record before saying there are at least 400-600 known sites in the region. My current count is somewhere close to 1,400.

Now that’s a lot of rock art.

Rock art and sacred sites in Mainland Southeast Asia

Starting off the week with a post about what I’ve been up to the last six weeks – I’ve been in Thailand and Laos to conduct some fieldwork at rock art sites. I was particularly interested in the connection of rock art with religious (typically Buddhist) sites.

The team at Khao Chan Ngam, in Nakhon Ratchasima province in Thailand
The team at Khao Chan Ngam, in Nakhon Ratchasima province in Thailand

Continue reading “Rock art and sacred sites in Mainland Southeast Asia”

All quiet til June

I’m off to do some fieldwork and will have little internet access for the next five weeks, so expect to hear little updates from this site until the middle of June. In the meantime, if you see any news related to the archaeology of Southeast Asia, why not share it on the Facebook page?

On that note, any readers in Bangkok, Vientiane and Luang Prabang interested in a meetup over coffee and/or beer?