[Lecture] Examination of Ancient Khmer Defensive Warfare Practices by Paul T. Carter

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Lecture at the Siam Society, Bangkok on 8 November 2018

Examination of Ancient Khmer Defensive Warfare Practices by Paul T. Carter

DATE: Thursday, 8 November 2018
TIME: 7:00 p.m.
PLACE: The Siam Society, 131 Asoke Montri Rd, Sukhumvit 21

Did ancient Khmer kings, particularly during the Classic Angkor period, neglect key defensive warfare principles which neighboring civilizations, less powerful and grand than Angkor, practiced centuries earlier? The lecturer argues that while Khmer kings displayed very capable offensive warfare capabilities, they did indeed ignore basic defensive warfare tenets which largely rendered them militarily defenseless. This does not argue that the neglect of defensive warfare principles caused the collapse of the empire, nor that its key rulers, such as Jayavarman VII, completely ignored the defense of Angkor. His construction of Angkor Thom, with its significant walled and moat barriers, certainly illustrates some regard for defense. Neither does this suggest the employment of robust defensive principles would have saved Angkor from potentially debilitating societal changes that affected kings’ ability to respond to threats. The preponderance of available evidence does suggest, however, that at no time did Angkor’s kings conduct key defensive warfare practices that other civilizations used centuries earlier. Such neglect placed the Khmer army at a significant disadvantage against the larger, attacking Ayutthaya Army in 1431, and made it unnecessarily vulnerable to any future enemies. This lecture demonstrates how Khmer kings ignored fundamental defensive warfare techniques. Next, that the Khmers would have been aware of these techniques earlier civilizations had practiced. Finally, it examines possible reasons for such neglect which leads to a broader discussion of Angkor civilization.

[Lecture] Treasures of the Deep: Maritime Archaeology in Hong Kong, China and Asia-Pacific

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The Chinese University of Hong kong by e X p o s e / Shutterstock

Readers in Hong Kong may be interested in this talk by Bill Jeffery on maritime archaeology in Hong Kong and Asia-Pacific.

The Chinese University of Hong kong by e X p o s e / Shutterstock

The Chinese University of Hong kong by e X p o s e / Shutterstock

Treasures of the Deep: Maritime Archaeology in Hong Kong, China and Asia-Pacific (in English)
Prof. Bill Jeffery (Assistant Professor, University of Guam)
Date:16 Nov 2018
Time:4:00-6:00 pm
Venue: LT4 Esther Lee Building, Chung Chi College, CUHK

Maritime archaeology is a relatively new discipline in the anthropology field. As was the case in archaeology, maritime archaeology commenced with a fascination and collection of curios or antiquities and not always with a motivation to preserve and study the archaeological record for the benefit of the general public. Collectors and treasure hunters have taken their toll on terrestrial and underwater sites, recovering and collecting artefacts for selling or keeping as personal possessions. Sites such as Nanhai No.1 in China contain a wealth of information about trade in the 13th century, and other sites throughout China, Korea and parts of South East Asia well illustrate the trade and the types of ships that were used throughout the region, and further afield. The Hong Kong waters, located in a significant part of the maritime silk road, could potentially contain sites of great interest in China’s maritime activities. The recent find of a Song Dynasty anchor stock in Hong Kong waters is a tantalizing link in these activities and perhaps indicative of things to come. It reveals Hong Kong’s maritime cultural landscape and seascape is worthy of exploring in greater detail, where the more than 70,000 scuba divers could be of great assistance. This talk will discuss these issues and activities in addition to placing the region’s maritime archaeology into the world context, particularly in association with UNESCO and its Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage.

Register here.

[Lecture] Bronze Drums of Southeast Asia by Jacques de Guerny

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Lecture at the Siam Society, Bangkok on 1 November 2018.

DATE: Thursday, 1 November 2018
TIME: 7:00 p.m.
PLACE: The Siam Society, 131 Asoke Montri Rd, Sukhumvit 21

The Bronze Age produced revolutionary innovations like the drums, stronger and more sonorous than their wooden and skin predecessors. They created new rites and bestowed on their owners a prestige even in the afterlife. On their drumhead (tympanum) and their cylindrical base, the drums were engraved with decorations open to interpretation, including the iconic frogs deemed to control the rain. Southeast Asian communities bestowed a new mission on the drums, not only as a source of sound but also to evoke values deemed crucial for everyday life or for the afterlife, from the steppes to the tropics. From inception to the present, the evolution of bronze drums spans around 2,500 years. Rituals have been conducted in their presence, from modern south China and Vietnam to Indonesia, including Indochina and Thailand. Bronze, an alloy resistant to corrosion, elevated the status of these objects from simple pots to valuable masterpieces of creativity, at the crossroads of spiritual and commercial values. They belong to the treasures of humanity, housed within museums around the world and still used at solemn ceremonies, including the funeral rites in October 2017 of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej. In my talk, I will trace the evolution of bronze drums across centuries and Southeast Asian cultures, in Cambodia, China, Laos, Indonesia/Bali, Malaysia, Myanmar/Burma, Thailand and Vietnam.

[Lecture] Portuguese and Dutch Records for Singapore before 1819

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Readers in Singapore may be interested in this talk tomorrow at ISEAS.

Portuguese and Dutch Records for Singapore before 1819
Date : Tuesday, 9 October 2018
Time : 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Venue : ISEAS Seminar Room 2
About The Lecture
In the mid-1950s, a young lecturer in the history department at the University of Singapore named Ian MacGregor embarked on an ambitious project to research the history of pre-1800 Singapore and Malaya by using Portuguese documents. His findings were published in three articles in the Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society between 1955 and 1957. The untimely death of this researcher ended abruptly what appeared to be a promising trajectory in writing the history of Singapore and the region. For the past two decades, research on the Portuguese and other early European sources touching on the region in the 16th and 17th centuries has intensified and, thanks to modern IT facilities that provide easier access to archival materials worldwide, the question has resurfaced as to what the value of the Portuguese sources might be for identifying important events in Singapore’s pre-modern history. This has become especially important against the backdrop of the ongoing preparations for the Singapore Bicentennial in 2019. This seminar should be seen as a contribution to the historiography of pre-1800 Singapore insofar as it critically engages with the different types of materials at hand, compares them with other period European sources, and reviews some of the different materials that have been published in recent years.

Special Talk and Seminars on the Archaeology of Ban Chiang to commemorate 185 years of Thai-US diplomatic relations

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via The Nation, 27 September 2018: This talk happened just before IPPA last week.

On the occasion of the 185th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between Thailand and the United States, the Department of American and South Pacific Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand, the Ban Chiang National Museum of the Department of Fine Arts, and the Department of Archaeology, Silpakorn University, in collaboration with the Institute for Southeast Asian Archaeology (ISEAA), the United States of America, will organise activities to further promote Thai – US cooperation on the archaeology of Ban Chiang in Bangkok and UdonThani Province during 19 – 21 September 2018. Representatives from relevant government agencies, academics, students, professionals from tourism industry, media, and the general public are expected to attend.

Source: Special Talk and Seminars on the Archaeology of Ban Chiang to commemorate 185 years of Thai-US diplomatic relations

[Talk] Looking Beyond the Temples: Exploring the Residences of the Ancient Angkorians

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Readers in New York may be interested in this talk by Dr Alison Carter at the Archaeological Society of Staten Island on Sunday, 16 September.

Looking Beyond the Temples: Exploring the Residences of the Ancient Angkorians
Dr. Alison Carter
Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Oregon

Angkor, centered in the modern nation of Cambodia, was one of the largest pre-industrial settlements in the world and has been the focus of more than a century of epigraphic, art historical, and architectural research. However, few scholars have examined the lives of the people who built the temples, kept the shrines running, produced the food, and managed the water. This presentation will focus on Dr. Carter’s recent work with the Greater Angkor Project examining Angkorian habitation areas and specifically the excavation of a house mound within the Angkor Wat temple enclosure. Through this multidisciplinary research, we aim to better understand the nature and timing of occupation within the Angkor Wat temple enclosure and the types of activities taking place within an Angkorian household.

Source: September 2018: Dr. Alison Carter, “Looking Beyond the Temples: Exploring the Residences of the Ancient Angkorians” | Archaeology Society of Staten Island

[Talk] The Enigma Of Hindu-Buddhist Art In Ancient Kedah

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Readers in Kuala Lumpur may be interested in this talk about the Bujang Valley archaeological sites by Dr Nasha bin Rodziadi Khaw on 22 September. The talk will be held at ILHAM, a public art gallery.

The Bujang Valley has seen the discovery of archaeological remains that are believed to be related to the port of Ancient Kedah. Historical accounts and archaeological discoveries show that the area functioned as a trading point as well as a centre for iron production from the 2nd to 14th Century C.E. A significant number of artefacts relevant to Hindu-Buddhist art were also found, such as sculptures, shrines and inscriptions. Issues regarding the cultural origin of those remains, and questions of whether or not they were commissioned and made locally remain ambiguous. This presentation by Nasha Khaw will discuss the form and function of Hindu-Buddhist remains from Ancient Kedah, past opinions by scholars on their cultural origin, and present theories based on recent scholarship.

Source: The Enigma Of Hindu-Buddhist Art In Ancient Kedah: A Historical Discourse | ILHAM Kuala Lumpur

[Talk] Writing as a Marker of Identity in Early South and Southeast Asia

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Readers in Singapore may be interested in this talk by Prof. Himanshu Prabha Ray at the National University of Singapore on 12 September.

‘DEFINING TRANSNATIONAL MARITIME CULTURAL HERITAGE: WRITING AS A MARKER OF IDENTITY IN EARLY SOUTH AND SOUTHEAST ASIA’
Speaker: Prof Himanshu Prabha Ray (Anneliese Maier Fellow, Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich)
Date: Wednesday, 12 September 2018
Time: 4:00pm – 5:30pm
Venue: AS8, Level 6, Conference Room (06-46)

Within the narrative of terrestrial histories of nation states, accounts of maritime cultural heritage often become an extension of land-based concerns. A paradigm shift to understanding the history of the sea destabilizes linear mapping of time and chronologies of political dynasties, empires and trading activity that helped sustain the quest for luxuries. This shift entails re-establishing the centrality of the sea and viewing it not only as a space permitting movement, but as a site of cultural encounters and shared experiences, as expressed through the medium of writing in a common script, i.e. the Brahmi script. The languages expressed were diverse and included Sanskrit, Prakrit, Tamil and Sinhala, as evident from inscriptions on pots recovered in South and Southeast Asia. In this presentation I revisit sites along the east coast of India and investigate maritime networks across Bay of Bengal as indicated by the presence of inscribed pottery recorded in archaeological investigations. An important marker of the interconnectedness of sites extending from lower Bengal to coastal Sri Lanka is the Rouletted Ware, first identified at the well-known site of Arikamedu on the Tamil coast and described by Mortimer Wheeler in 1946 as an indicator of Roman trade. In recent years, not only has Rouletted Ware been found in coastal Malaysia, Thailand, Java, Bali and Vietnam, but rigorous analysis of Tissamaharama in Sri Lanka has helped define its date from 2nd and 3rd century BCE to 1st century BCE. It is also evident that many Rouletted Ware pots were inscribed and continued in circulation for a longer period. Here I will primarily focus on patterns of use/distribution of inscribed pottery in an attempt to emphasise both temporal and spatial variations of cultural contacts across South and Southeast Asia and the extent to which writing was used as a marker of identity in maritime Asia in the centuries around the Common Era. The larger issue being addressed is the circulation of knowledge across the seas and the agency responsible for these circuits. Can these complexities be accommodated as Outstanding Universal Values that can underwrite transnational cultural routes to be nominated for World Heritage status?

Source: ‘Defining Transnational Maritime Cultural Heritage: Writing as a Marker of Identity in early South and Southeast Asia’ (Wednesday, 12 September 2018) – Southeast Asian Studies @ NUS

[Lecture] The Protuket: the Thai-Portuguese Catholic Community, From Ayutthaya to Bangkok

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Readers in Bangkok may be interested in this talk at the Siam Society on 30 August at 7.30 pm

The Protuket: the Thai-Portuguese Catholic Community, From Ayutthaya to Bangkok. A Talk by Miguel Castelo-Branco

The Portuguese are acknowledged as pioneers of Western relations with the Kingdom of Siam, dating back to the early years of the 16th century. The diplomatic alliance began in 1511, when Portugal sent a delegation to Siam during the reign of Rama Thibodi II, who ruled as King of Ayutthaya from 1491 to 1529. The Treaty of Friendship and Commerce, signed in 1518, is taken as the auspicious beginning for this alliance, which this year has been marked by numerous celebrations in both countries, attesting to 500 years of enduring friendship.

After the 1767 sacking of Ayutthaya, King Rama II (of the Rattanakosin period), facilitated the setting up of the first Portuguese consulate by granting land on the side of the Chao Phraya River. Over the centuries, relations between the two countries have grown in strength, particularly after King Chulalongkorn’s first visit to Portugal as part of his 1897 European tour.

Crucially, as well as allowing Portugal to set up a trading post in Ayutthaya, the 1518 Treaty also guaranteed religious freedom for the sizeable Portuguese community. Numerous Catholic churches in Bangkok attest to the legacy of Portuguese-Siamese relations and to the well-integrated nature of Portuguese descendants into Thai society.

Tonight’s lecture aims to offer a general understanding of what was, for over 300 years, a strategically fundamental group in balancing between Ayutthaya, Bangkok and the Western World.

More information here.

[Lecture] The Invisible Paintings of Angkor Wat

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If anyone’s in Bangkok this Thursday (16 August), I’ll be giving a lecture at the Siam Society on the Invisible Paintings of Angkor Wat. I gave a similar lecture at the Asian Civilisations Museum earlier this year. The lecture begins at 7.30 pm.

In 2014, a paper published in the journal Antiquity revealed “invisible” paintings on the walls of Angkor Wat. These paintings, found throughout the temple, are mostly invisible to the naked eye. Some of the most indiscernible paintings are compositions of entire wall murals, apparently unfinished. This talk will reveal the invisible paintings of Angkor Wat, along with other historical graffiti found at the site. The post-Angkorian corpus of paintings and engravings present at the Angkor Wat illustrate a long history of occupation, reuse and conversion, shedding light on a common misconception that the temple was abandoned to the jungle before being “rediscovered” by the French and the Western world in the 18th century, and the transformation of Angkor Wat from a 12th century Hindu temple into a Buddhist stupa.

Source: The Invisible Paintings of Angkor Wat. A Talk by Noel H. Tan | The Siam Society