Lost in literature: why we need to stop the quest for Suvarnabhumi

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via New Mandala, 10 October 2018: Is Suvarnabhumi even a real place?

While we have to appreciate the profound work of scholars like O.W. Wolters, H.G. Wales, Georges Coédes, and the impeccable work on Chinese texts by Paul Wheatley, historians have gotten used to treating Suvarnabhumi or its synonyms in other languages as a historical-geographical fact. I argue, instead, that Suvarnabhumi is a literary device. We need to work together as archaeologists, linguists, local and international, art historians, historians and heritage scholars to get rid of the idea of Suvarnabhumi as a physical location. I am not saying we should stop studying Suvarnabhumi, but perhaps it is time we stop treating it as a piece of empirical source material.

Source: Lost in literature: why we need to stop the quest for Suvarnabhumi [Part 1] – New Mandala

CFP: EUROSEAS Conference Berlin 2019

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The next EuroSEAS conference will be held in Berlin from 10-13 September 2019 and will be hosted by the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

Call for Panels
The European Association for Southeast Asian Studies (EuroSEAS) will hold its 10th conference from 10 to 13 September 2019 at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. As an international and multi-disciplinary organisation, EuroSEAS invites scholars and PhD students from all academic disciplines with an interest in Southeast Asia to submit panels that explore relevant research topics from an interdisciplinary perspective as well as discuss theoretical and methodological aspects of research generated in the field of Southeast Asian Studies.

Proposals are also invited for a limited number of roundtable discussions about recent developments in Southeast Asia and for laboratories that would develop cross-disciplinary collaboration. Proposals for panels, roundtables and laboratories do not need a list of participants, just an abstract and a convener will do!

Panels
Panels consist of a convener, 3-4 presenters, and if possible, a discussant. Double sessions of max 6 presentations are allowed. We invite panels on a wide range of topics in the social sciences and humanities of Southeast Asia. We prefer panels with a geographical comparative approach and panels that cross disciplinary boundaries. We especially invite panels on climate change, literature, performing arts, and archaeology – fields that were underrepresented in previous conferences.
Submission format: (1) title, (2) convener, (3) brief description of panel, max ½ page, (4) single session (1 x 90 min.): 3-4 presenters; double session (2 x 90 min.): 6 presenters, (5) optional: discussant.

Roundtables
Roundtables address current issues and new developments, and consist of a convener and max. 6 participants who prepare brief statements followed by audience discussion.
Submission format: (1) title, (2) convener, (3) explain in ½ page urgency of topic, (4) max 6 presenters.

Laboratories
Laboratories are closed meetings for young scholars to develop innovative cross-disciplinary plans. Laboratories run for half a day and consist of a convener and max 8 participants. Towards the end of the conference conveners will present the results of these meetings to a larger audience.
Submission format: (1) title, (2) convener, (3) explain in ½ page plans for discussion and collaboration, (4) max 8 participants.

Deadline
Please send your proposals to euroseas@kitlv.nl by 1 December 2018.

Inquiries
For inquiries, please contact Henk Schulte Nordholt (euroseas@kitlv.nl).

Please help take this survey on archaeology education in Southeast Asia

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SEAMEO SPAFA Archaelogy Education Survey

Regular readers of this blog will know that I work full-time in SEAMEO SPAFA, the Regional Centre for Archaeology and Fine Arts under the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization. I am currently conducting a large-scale regional survey to understand archaeology education in Southeast Asia: What is the regional archaeology education and industry landscape like? Where do people study archaeology in Southeast Asia? Where else in the world can you study about the archaeology of Southeast Asia? And what are the emerging training needs for regional archaeologists? To that effect, I hope you can help by taking part in our survey:

SEAMEO SPAFA Archaelogy Education Survey

SEAMEO SPAFA Archaelogy Education Survey

The survey is open to everyone, anywhere in the world but especially since you are reading this blog, I am interested to hear from you. The online survey takes around 10-20 minutes to complete, and you can also choose to take the survey in Thai, Khmer, Vietnamese, Myanma, Bahasa Indonesia and Bahasa Malaysia. The data gathered from the survey will be very useful in informing educators about the current needs in the region and help with medium-to-long term planning.

Your input is important! Please take the survey here: http://www.seameo-spafa.org/archaeology-education-survey/

Southeast Asian population boomed 4,000 years ago

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Clare McFadden, lead author. Source: ANU

via Science Daily/ANU, 20 September 2018: A new paper in the Journal of Archaeological Science shows evidence for a rapid population growth in Southeast Asia around 4,000 years ago using an analysis that takes into account the proportion of children and infants in population measurements.

Clare McFadden, lead author. Source: ANU

Clare McFadden, lead author. Source: ANU

Researchers at The Australian National University (ANU) have uncovered a previously unconfirmed population boom across South East Asia that occurred 4,000 years ago, thanks to a new method for measuring prehistoric population growth.

Using the new population measurement method, which utilises human skeletal remains, they have been able to prove a significant rapid increase in growth across populations in Thailand, China and Vietnam during the Neolithic Period, and a second subsequent rise in the Iron Age.

Source: Southeast Asian population boomed 4,000 years ago — ScienceDaily

SPAFACON2019 Call for Sessions

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SPAFACON2019 logo

It’s back! The 3rd SEAMEO SPAFA International Conference on Southeast Asian Archaeology will be held next year from 17-19 June 2019 (with optional site visits and workshops on 20-21). This time, the conference is jointly organised by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization Regional Centre for Archaeology and Fine Arts (SEAMEO SPAFA) and the Fine Arts Department of the Ministry of Culture, Thailand. Disclosure: SEAMEO SPAFA is my employer, and I am part of the organising committee of the conference.

SPAFACON2019 logo

Right now we are accepting proposals for sessions and also starting up a mailing list for conference announcements. For more information on either, please visit the official conference website: http://www.seameo-spafa.org/conference2019/

New Journal: Asian Archaeology

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Asian Archaeology is a new journal focusing on… well I think the name is quite self-explanatory. I will add a link to the resources page.

Asian Archaeology is an academic English-language journal that publishes original studies based on field archaeological data as well as new theoretical and methodological analyses and synthetic overviews of topics in the field of Asian archaeology. The geographic scope of papers primarily extends across eastern Asia (including China, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, and the Russian Far East), mainland and island Southeast Asia, and Australia. The journal’s readership is international, with a target audience of scholars and students with English-language backgrounds from Europe, North America, and Asia. By breaking down the language barriers toward access to the archaeology of eastern Asia, Asian Archaeology serves as a central, international forum for the study of Asian archaeology. The journal aims to contribute not only to a better understanding of the history and cultures of Asia, but also to the development of a global approach to archaeology, and thus to play an active role in promoting the development of world archaeology and Asian archaeology

Source: Asian Archaeology – Springer

Luce Initiative on Southeast Asia Grants

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Impending grant opportunity from the Henry Luce Foundation. Formal calls or proposals are expected to be out later this year. For more details, please click on the link below.

The Henry Luce Foundation is pleased to announce our Directors’ approval in June 2018 of the Luce Initiative on Southeast Asia (LuceSEA). The central objective of LuceSEA is to strengthen the study of Southeast Asia in American higher education by providing resources for the creation of models, strategies and partnerships that not only bolster existing program structures but also take them in new directions.

LuceSEA is a multi-year grants competition designed to encourage innovation in Southeast Asian studies through support for

  • work in new and emerging areas of inquiry and the expansion of direct engagement with scholars and institutions in Southeast Asia;
  • collaborations and networks that link academic centers to each other and with partners outside academia; and
  • the enhancement of core scholarly infrastructure for teaching and research relevant to Southeast Asia.

Within American philanthropic circles, the Luce Foundation is unique in its longstanding support for Southeast Asian studies. It is an appropriate moment for the Foundation to reinvest in the field, to ensure that it remains vibrant and relevant.

Source: Luce Initiative on Southeast Asia

The Southeast Asian Ceramic Society is looking for old publications

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on behalf of the Southeast Asian Ceramic Society:

A writing of the Southeast Asian Ceramic Society’s history has revealed that they are missing copies of a number of their earlier publications including:

Transactions of the Southeast Asian Ceramic Society, no. 1 (November 1971). | Cook, George C. ”Notes on the Southeast Asian Ceramics Exhibition of 1971”

 Transactions of the Southeast Asian Ceramic Society, no. 3 (1972). | Brown, Roxanna M. “Ceramic Excavations in the Philippines”, 3 pages.

 Transactions of the Southeast Asian Ceramic Society, no. 4 (1974). | Gluckman, Michael. “A Visit to the Phan Kilns in Northern Thailand”

 Transactions of the Southeast Asian Ceramic Society, no. 5 (1974). | Brown, Roxanna M. “The History of Ceramic Finds in Sulawesi: A Talk given by Roxanna Brown at the 36th meeting of the Southeast Ceramic Society, June 12th, 1974.

 Transactions of the Southeast Asian Ceramic Society, no. 6 (19??). | “Research into the Disposition of Ceramic Sites in North Sumatra” (Note: very hard-to-find)

If anyone has a copy, can you please let the President (Patricia Welch) know at: pbjwelch@gmail.com, as she would very much like to have a scanned copy for their permanent files.

Prehistoric people started to spread domesticated bananas across the world 6,000 years ago

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via The Conversation, 13 July 2018: The earliest known domesticated bananas appear in Papua New Guinea 6,800 years ago. They appear again in Sri Lanka 6,000 years ago. The speed in which they spread suggests the presence of a far-reaching communication network. More impressive, domesticated bananas are sterile, and so propagation of bananas would necessitate the transportation of cuttings or whole plants!

Appearance of bananas in Sri Lanka 6,000 years ago points to prehistoric food globalisation.

Source: Prehistoric people started to spread domesticated bananas across the world 6,000 years ago

Hominin occupation in China from 2.1 million years ago

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Of potential interest for Southeast Asia: 2.1 million-year-old stone tools discovered in China pushes back the dates of hominins outside of Africa by several hundred thousand years. The term “Southern Chinese Loess Plateau” may be a little confusing: it’s not in Southern China, and the area of discovery sits between the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers.

Hominin occupation of the Chinese Loess Plateau since about 2.1 million years ago
Zhu et. al
Nature
https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-018-0299-4

Considerable attention has been paid to dating the earliest appearance of hominins outside Africa. The earliest skeletal and artefactual evidence for the genus Homo in Asia currently comes from Dmanisi, Georgia, and is dated to approximately 1.77–1.85 million years ago (Ma)1. Two incisors that may belong to Homo erectus come from Yuanmou, south China, and are dated to 1.7 Ma2; the next-oldest evidence is an H. erectus cranium from Lantian (Gongwangling)—which has recently been dated to 1.63 Ma3—and the earliest hominin fossils from the Sangiran dome in Java, which are dated to about 1.5–1.6 Ma4. Artefacts from Majuangou III5 and Shangshazui6 in the Nihewan basin, north China, have also been dated to 1.6–1.7 Ma. Here we report an Early Pleistocene and largely continuous artefact sequence from Shangchen, which is a newly discovered Palaeolithic locality of the southern Chinese Loess Plateau, near Gongwangling in Lantian county. The site contains 17 artefact layers that extend from palaeosol S15—dated to approximately 1.26 Ma—to loess L28, which we date to about 2.12 Ma. This discovery implies that hominins left Africa earlier than indicated by the evidence from Dmanisi.

See also: