New Paper: Rock art and the colonisation of Southeast Asia

Over the past decade, archaeologists have been able to directly date rock art, particularly in Island Southeast Asia at sites in East Kalimantan, East Timor and South Sulawesi. The dates of rock art indicate that modern humans were creating rock art during the Pleistocene, comparable to similar rock art in Europe. In this paper by Aubert et al., the authors note that the presence of these sites and dates now begs the question, did the ability to create rock art move out of Africa with human migrations, or did it erupt independently in different parts of the world? Also within Island Southeast Asia, did rock art develop from a specific place and spread throughout prehistoric Sahul, or did it arise independently among different communities in the region?

Recent technological developments in scientific dating methods and their applications to a broad range of materials have transformed our ability to accurately date rock art. These novel breakthroughs in turn are challenging and, in some instances, dramatically changing our perceptions of the timing and the nature of the development of rock art and other forms of symbolic expression in various parts of the late Pleistocene world. Here we discuss the application of these methods to the dating of rock art in Southeast Asia, with key implications for understanding the pattern of recent human evolution and dispersal outside Africa.

The Timing and Nature of Human Colonization of Southeast Asia in the Late Pleistocene: A Rock Art Perspective – Current Anthropology

The race to save up to 50 shipwrecks from looters in Southeast Asia

via The Conversation, 16 November 2017:

More than 48 shipwrecks have been illicitly salvaged – and the figure may be much higher. Museums can play a key role in the protection of these wrecks, alongside strategic recovery and legislative steps.

Source: The race to save up to 50 shipwrecks from looters in Southeast Asia

Massive grave robbing in Southeast Asian seas

via The Guardian, 03 November 2017: 40 shipwrecks, mostly war graves, in Southeast Asian waters have been found to be illegally scavenged at unprecedented rates.

Dozens of warships believed to contain the remains of thousands of British, American, Australian, Dutch and Japanese servicemen from the second world war have been illegally ripped apart by salvage divers, the Guardian can reveal.

An analysis of ships discovered by wreck divers and naval historians has found that up to 40 second world war-era vessels have already been partially or completely destroyed. Their hulls might have contained the corpses of 4,500 crew.

Governments fear other unmarked graves are at risk of being desecrated. Hundreds more ships – mostly Japanese vessels that could contain the war graves of tens of thousands of crew killed during the war – remain on the seabed.

Source: The world’s biggest grave robbery: Asia’s disappearing WWII shipwrecks – The Guardian

UNESCO and ASEAN joint forces to strengthen the protection of underwater heritage in the Southeast Asian region

via Unesco, 21 September 2017: I was in Makassar last week to attend this meeting organised by Unesco and ASEAN. On the agenda was the 2001 convention on Underwater Cultural Heritage (of which only Cambodia is signatory to).

Source: UNESCO and ASEAN joint forces to strengthen the protection of underwater heritage in the Southeast Asian region | United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Paper: Seafaring Archaeology of the East Coast of India and Southeast Asia during the Early Historical Period

A new Open Access paper published in Ancient Asia:

The concept of trade in ancient India was quite different from modern times. In olden day’s mariners, artisans, traders, Buddhist monks and religious leaders used to set sail together and this trend continued till the advent of modern shipping. The representation of art on the walls of the caves, stupas and temples enlighten us regarding their joint ventures, experiences and problems faced during the sea voyages. The finding of varieties of pottery, punch marked and Roman coins, Brahmi and Kharoshti inscriptions along the ports, trade centres and Buddhist settlements suggest the role played by them in maritime trade during the early historical period and later. Mariners of India were aware of the monsoon wind and currents for more than two thousand years if not earlier. Furthermore, the study shows that the maritime contact with Southeast Asian countries was seasonal and no changes of Southwest and Northeast monsoon have been noticed since then. This paper details the types of pottery, beads, cargo found at ports, trade routes and Buddhist settlements along the east coast of India and the role of monsoons in maritime trade. The impact of Buddhism on trade and society of the region are also discussed.

Source: Seafaring Archaeology of the East Coast of India and Southeast Asia during the Early Historical Period (doi:10.5334/aa.118

CFP: SEA Studies Symposium 2018

The 7th Annual Southeast Asian Studies Symposium will be held in March 2018 at Universitas Indonesia with the theme: “What is Southeast Asia? Exploring Uniqueness and Diversity”. Proposals for papers and sessions are due by October 15, 2017.

“What is Southeast Asia? Exploring Uniqueness and Diversity” 22–24 March 2018 at Universitas Indonesia in collaboration with School of Environmental Science, Universitas Indonesia Indonesia Environ…

Source: SEA Studies Symposium 2018 – Call for Panels and Papers | Project Southeast Asia

[Lecture] Tantrism and State Formation in Southeast Asia

Readers in Singapore may be interested in this lecture by Andrea Ancri at the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre on 14 August 2017.

Tantrism and State Formation in Southeast Asia

The socio-religious phenomenon we now call “Tantrism” dominated the religious and ritual life in much of South and Southeast Asia from around 500 CE to 1500 CE and beyond. Yet, the impact of Śaiva and Buddhist Tantric traditions on the societies and cultures of Southeast Asia remains insufficiently studied and appreciated. The talk will explore the indissoluble link between the State and Tantric ideologies/ritual systems in Southeast Asia. It will first deal with state formation, evaluating the theories of “man of prowess” and “Śaiva bhakti” elaborated by historian Oliver Wolters, then turn to the role of Tantric magic and ritual in the medieval maṇḍala polities of Sumatra, Java, and Cambodia. Finally, it will offer some concluding reflections on the link between politics, power, and the “supernatural” in modern Southeast Asia.

Source: Lecture: Tantrism and State Formation in Southeast Asia – ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute

[Lecture] The Emergence of Complex Behaviour: Examples from Ancient Southeast Asia

Readers in Canberra may be intestested in this upcoming talk by Marc Oxenham in August 9

This presentation explores the evidence for the emergence of complex behaviour in the past, using Southeast Asia as an illustrative example. I ask what defines complexity in an archaeological sense and discuss this in terms of evidence for major archaeologically visible changes in human behaviour over time. After an over view of the population history of the region, I look at the rise of high density hunter-gatherer communities in northern Southeast Asia (southern China and northern Vietnam). The reasons for their success, and ultimate failure, are contrasted with the emergence of the first farming communities, and concomitant massive demographic changes, in the same region. Throughout the discussion of the emergence of complex behaviours I look to potential environmental (e.g. climate volatility and the effects of documented temperature rises of 2 to 4oC between 8-3,000 years ago) and anthropogenic (e.g. land clearance, wild plant and animal management) factors. Finally, I ask if any salutary lessons can be drawn from our nearest neighbours that adapted to and lived with the effects of climate change thousands of years ago.

Source: The Emergence of Complex Behaviour: Examples from Ancient Southeast Asia Tickets, Wed, 09/08/2017 at 4:00 pm | Eventbrite

Job: Faculty Position – Relationships Between China and its Neighbouring Countries – Shanghai Normal University

Faculty position available in Shanghai Normal University, open to archaeological focuses on Chinas relations with Southeast Asia. Applications close on July 12, 2017

Faculty Position – Relationships Between China and its Neighbouring Countries

The Guangqi Centre for International Scholars is a research institute affiliated with Shanghai Normal University, focusing on the application of academic research on reality. It is built to facilitate communication between Western cultures and Eastern cultures and to attract talented scholars to exchange ideas freely. The central aim is to become a well-known research institute soon.

The Guangqi Centre for International Scholars seeks a full-time scholar focused on relationships between China and its neighbouring countries: Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, and Malaysia. This is a full-time academic position with a three-year renewable contract.

This position is open to scholars of all thematic interests: history, politics, archaeology, linguistics, literature, religion, anthropology, art, international relations, and other related fields.
The recruited scholars will be directly admitted by the school. They will also be able to undertake postdoctoral research on world history, Chinese history, Chinese language and literature, and more, per their interest.

Source: Faculty Position – Relationships Between China and its Neighbouring Countries – Shanghai Normal University –