UNESCO World Heritage: Challenges for the New Millenium

The UNESCO World Heritage Centre has just published a book about the World Heritage charter and the challenges for the new millenium. It’s about 200-pages long and available in French and English and makes for good reading for anyone interested about the World Heritage Sites not just in Southeast Asia, but the world. The best of all? It’s a great resource that’s available for a free download.

This 200-page publication provides a comprehensive overview and analysis of more than three decades of the implementation of the World Heritage Convention and highlights a number of its successes and challenges. It includes a history of the 1972 Convention and its implementation, an analysis of the natural and cultural diversity of the world included on the World Heritage List, and a look at the state of conservation of World Heritage sites. Containing a wealth of information with over 100 photographs, 26 maps and numerous tables and graphs, it is intended for the general reader as well as university students and researchers, heritage conservation specialists and policy-makers.

Check out the publication and the website link here.

Ancient pottery unearthed at My Son sanctuary

Cham-style pottery is unearthed at the My Son sanctuary, a Hindu temple complex, one of which contains an inscription of an old Chinese character.

11 April 2007 (Thanh Nien News) – Cham-style pottery is unearthed at the My Son sanctuary, a Hindu temple complex, one of which contains an inscription of an old Chinese character. This also marks the 300th post on this blog. Hooray!

Cham pottery

Ancient pottery unearthed at Vietnam World Heritage site

Italian and Vietnamese archeologists discovered Tuesday a red brick pottery piece thought to date back to the 18th century at a dig at Quang Nam province’s My Son Sanctuary. The archeologists, from Italy’s Lerici Foundation and Vietnamese Ministry of Culture and Information said the pottery surface was engraved with ancient Cham characters and an old Chinese character “Chen”. This is the third pottery piece that contains the “Chen” character found in My Son since 2005, along with over 2,000 ancient Cham objects including stone, glass and ceramics, among others.


Related Books:
Hindu-Buddhist Art Of Vietnam: Treasures From Champa by E. Guillon
The Art of Champa by J. Hubert

More ancient kilns found

There are two separate stories in this news story: the first is the discovery of two kilns in Phitsanulok province; the second is the discovery of ten 2,000-year-old graves in Nakhon Ratchasima province.

6 April 2007 (The Nation) – There are two separate stories in this news story: the first is the discovery of two kilns in Phitsanulok province; the second is the discovery of ten 2,000-year-old graves in Nakhon Ratchasima province.

More ancient kilns found

The Mineral Resources Department (MRD) has unearthed two ancient pottery kilns in Phitsanulok’s Muang district, while local archaeologists in Nakhon Ratchasima yesterday found 10 ancient graves with human bones and artefacts dating back more than 2,000 years.

MRD director-general Apichai Chawacharoenphan said yesterday that two kilns had been found so far in an ongoing survey of Wat Tapakhaohai and the compound of its school in Tambon Hau Raw.


Related Books:
Prehistoric Thailand: From Early Settlement to Sukhothai b C. Higham
Thai Ceramic Art by A. Lau (Ed)

Prasat Hin Khao Phanom Rung

A short piece on 10th century Prasat Hin Khao Phanom Rung in Buri Ram province. An interesting feature about the temple to Shiva is the possibility that the doorways are aligned to capture a single shaft of light once a year. The Sanskrit and Khmer inscriptions found associated with the temple have also been touched upon in a paper by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand.

5 April 2007 (Pattaya Daily News) – A short piece on 10th century Prasat Hin Khao Phanom Rung in Buri Ram province. An interesting feature about the temple to Shiva is the possibility that the doorways are aligned to capture a single shaft of light once a year. The Sanskrit and Khmer inscriptions found associated with the temple have also been touched upon in a paper by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand in Uncovering Southeast Asia’s Past (see related books below).

Prasat Hin Khao Phanom Rung

Where do you come from?..”Buri Rum”..Where is that?

Phanom Rung Historical Park, Chalermphrakiat district, Buri Ram province) In Hindu and Buddhist cosmology, mountains are believed to be homes to the gods. Prasat Hin Khao Phanom Rung, a magnificent temple sanctuary set on the summit of Phanom Rung Hill, was built between the 10th and 13th centuries. According to the stone inscriptions in Sanskrit and Khmer found at the site, the original name of the temple complex is Phanom Rung, Khmer for big mountain

A religious sanctuary dedicated to the Hindu god, Shiva, Prasat Hin Khao Phanom Rung symbolises Mount Kailasa, the heavenly abode of Shiva. Phanom Rung Hill rises 350 metres above the surrounding plain.

Astro-archaeological Phenomenon at Prasat Hin Khao Phanom Rung Astrologers have also predicted that an extraordinary astro-archaeological phenomenon will occur at sunrise during the April 3-5 period this year. The doors of the temple sanctuary are so perfectly aligned that during this period, at sunrise on a cloudless day with clear blue skies, the sun’s rays will shine through all fifteen doorways of the sanctuary in a single shaft of light.


Related Books:
Uncovering Southeast Asia’s Past: Selected Papers from the 10th International Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists by E. A. Bacus, I. Glover and V. C. Pigott (Eds)
Khmer Civilization and Angkor (Orchid Guides) by D. L. Snellgrove
Adoration and Glory: The Golden Age of Khmer Art by E. C. Bunker and D. Latchford

Book containing ancient Thai script discovered

short story about an ancient 200-page tome filled with ancient Thai script. Unfortunately, the story does not describe how the book was found. The ethnic Thai people have been living in Northeast Vietnam from as early as the first millenium BC. However, little is known about the ancient Thai language and there is insufficient resources to preserve remaining sources of the ancient Thai script.

2 April 2007 (Vietnam Net Bridge) – A short story about an ancient 200-page tome filled with ancient Thai script. Unfortunately, the story does not describe how the book was found. The ethnic Thai people have been living in Northeast Vietnam from as early as the first millenium BC. However, little is known about the ancient Thai language and there is insufficient resources to preserve remaining sources of the ancient Thai script.

Nghe An: Ancient book of Thai script discovered

Mr. Vi Dinh Khuyen from Muong Dan Village in the central province of Nghe An has discovered a 200-page book, each page of which contains 7 horizontal lines of Thai letters.

According to some Thai language experts, this is an ancient book of the Thai people living in the area, the language of whom was widely used in Que Phong District in Nghe An and in the southwest of Thanh Hoa Province.


Related books:
Southeast Asian Languages and Literatures: A bibliographical guide to Burmese, Cambodian, Indonesian, Javanese, Malay, Minangkakau, Thai and Vietnamese by E. U. Kratz (Ed)

A history of the Malaysian Peninsula and timeline

Spurred by the recent discussion about the politicization of Malaysian history (see here and the comments section here), I just added three websites to the links list, both concerning the history of Malaysia.

History of the Malaysian Pwninsula

Sejarah Melayu (or the Malay History) is an informative site by Sabri Zain, a writer, who has quite neatly presented ancient Malaysia in topical formats, including the Early Malay Kingdoms, Buddhist empires and the Melaka Sultanate, supplemented with archaeological evidence.

For a more chronological overview of Malaysian history, the Malaysian Timeline is just that – a timeline of Malaysia from prehistory to modern times. It’s only split into five sections, but they provide a good overview of Malaysia’s past.

Finally, the Malay Concordance Project at the Australian National University is an online resource for scholars studying classical Malay texts.

Related Books:
Early History (The Encyclopedia of Malaysia) by Nik Hassan Shuhaimi Nik Abdul Rahman (Ed)
The Malay Sultanates 1400-1700 (The Encyclopedia of Malaysia)

Possible Vietnam prehistoric site to be submerged soon

The state decides to build a dam. Two months into the construction of the dam, a trove of archaeological artefacts are found, smack in the middle where the water catchment is supposed to be. Hopefully, the Vietnam Archaeology Institute will be able to organise a salvage dig.

4 April 2007 (Thanh Nien News) – What is the best way to deal with a situation like this. The state decides to build a dam. Two months into the construction of the dam, a trove of archaeological artefacts are found, smack in the middle where the water catchment is supposed to be. Hopefully, the Vietnam Archaeology Institute will be able to organise a salvage dig.

Neolithic artifacts from Dak Nong province

Possible Vietnam prehistoric site to be submerged soon

A farmer in central Vietnam has collected over 1,000 suspected Neolithic Period artifacts found locally but the site of his farm is soon to be submerged under a dam.

Dr Nguyen Gia Doi of the Vietnam Archaeology Institute said the objects might date back to 3,500 – 4,000 BCE after visiting Nguyen The Vinh’s farm in the central highlands’ Dak Nong province.

Vinh has shards of pottery and tools like axes and spearheads, chisels, and pots all found inn the area in the last four years.


Related Books:
The Bronze Age of Southeast Asia (Cambridge World Archaeology) by C. Higham

Call for Papers: The 2nd International Conference on Tourism and Hospitality

For academics writing interested in the role of heritage and tourism, Universiti Utara Malaysia is holding a conference from 30 July – 1 August with the theme “Planning and Managing Heritage for the Future”.

For academics writing interested in the role of heritage and tourism, Universiti Utara Malaysia is holding a conference from 30 July – 1 August with the theme “Planning and Managing Heritage for the Future”. Papers for the conference are being solicited, with the deadline for submission of abstracts on 30 April 2007.

The 2nd International Conference on Tourism and Hospitality

Heritage resources are irreplaceable; they are non-renewable resources that become a subject of conservation and tourism. Heritage provides a tangible link between the past, the present and the future. Thus, having a good management is crucial in sustaining the resources. If it is done badly, we might lose a significant part of our heritage forever. There are many issues and challenges that threat the sustainability of heritage assets including the modernization, and tourism! Yes, tourism poses a threat to heritage

The future of heritage lies on good planning and management with the mission linked closely to conservation. Planning for heritage can be broken into three parts: long-term planning, integrative planning, and conservation-focused. Long-term planning is in terms of markets and products, authority, policy and so forth. Whereas integrative planning refers to acknowledging other uses and users and within the region involved, be it heritage tourism, tourism in general or non-tourism uses, and lastly conservation-focused which is aiming at protecting built environment, maintaining integrity of ecological system, and caring for local community and aborigines. Management for heritage on the other hand, is about caring for property and maintaining it in as pristine state as possible, with issues such as financial solvency and public access entering into the decision making process only as secondary considerations.

This conference is the second series of the International Conference on Tourism and Hospitality (ICTH). This time the theme is on “Planning and Managing Heritage for the Future”. The theme is chosen because heritage is diverse in terms of the resources and attractions, covering natural heritage (e.g. national parks and biosphere reserves), built heritage (e.g. artifacts, monuments and structures), and intangible heritage (e.g. culture and literature). Each segment is unique and poses different sets of management and planning requirements. Heritage is also becoming an important part of tourism industry and society as a whole, which is evident in Malaysia with the establishment of Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage. This development shows the government’s recognition of this sector’s role in generating income via tourism industry and in maintaining the national legacy.

Cabinet passes amendments to Ancient Monuments Act

A 1961 law to protect ancient monuments in Thailand is amended to keep up with changing times. Particularly edifying is to see the act being amended to address the illicit transport (smuggling) of artefacts.

4 April 2007 (Thais News) – A 1961 law to protect ancient monuments in Thailand is amended to keep up with changing times. Particularly edifying is to see the act being amended to address the illicit transport (smuggling) of artefacts.

Cabinet passes amendments to Ancient Monuments Act

The Cabinet meeting approves amendments to the 1961 Act on Ancient Monuments, Antiques, Objects of Art and National Museums and draft of the National Archive Act to conserve Thai heritage.

Minister of Culture Khunying Khaisri Sri-arun (ไขศรี ศรีอรุณ) reveals that the amendments were made by the ministry to give a mandate to local administration officials to monitor ancient monuments. The minister says the amendments were written in line with the changing society and international standards on ancient monument conservation, especially those concern illegal transport of cultural objects. The amended Act also designates conserving areas for antiques and art objects located under water and on land.

Kinabatangan Valley, The Resting Place Of Timber Coffins

700-year-old timber coffins found in Sabah, a whole lot of them, from a period where little is known about Sabah and Borneo. The coffins are said to have some similarities with those found in China and Vietnam, which is plausible as Borneo rested in the middle of trade routes between China and Island Southeast Asia – some Chinese accounts also report of Chinese communities living on Borneo.

4 April 2007 (Bernama) – 700-year-old timber coffins found in Sabah, a whole lot of them, from a period where little is known about Sabah and Borneo. The coffins are said to have some similarities with those found in China and Vietnam, which is plausible as Borneo rested in the middle of trade routes between China and Island Southeast Asia – some Chinese accounts also report of Chinese communities living on Borneo.

Kinabatangan Valley, The Resting Place Of Timber Coffins

Lembah Kinabatangan, located in Sabah’s central region, is not only renowned for its vast oil palm plantations. The valley is also the resting place of priceless treasures in the form of “timber coffins”.

It is believed that about 2,000 timber coffins, some as old as 1,000 years, dotted the Kinabatangan Valley, making the area one of the nation’s important archeological sites.

Many of the coffins, made from hard wood like belian and merbau, are found in several caves at the valley.

Among the caves is Agop Batu Tulug in Kampung Batu Putih, Kinabatangan, turned into an archeological site by the Sabah Museum Department on July 6, 1995.

The Sabah Museum authorities, with collaboration from the National Museum and Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), are now carrying out restoration works in efforts to conserve the timber coffins found in the valley.


Related Books:
Early Kingdoms of the Indonesian Archipelago and the Malay Peninsula by P. M. Munoz