A Growing Archaeological Looting Network Between Thailand and Myanmar

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via Tea Circle: Oxford DPhil Candidate Phacharaphorn Phanomvan discusses the emergence of small scale looting of antiquities in Myanmar and Thailand, particularly on how small antiquities like beads are thought to be desirable in the Thai market.

A heavy burden is placed upon governments of emerging economies to police looters and track down lost artefacts. These efforts would be better diverted towards addressing the demand side of the market, like sellers and collectors. At the same time, archaeologists should strive to develop an engagement approach with local communities and use heritage sites, even smaller ones, to develop alternative income and incentives. An increasing amount of grant funding for excavations now contains preferences for projects that can help develop local communities such as the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) funding for initiatives in Latin America and Cambodia. The Myanmar Archaeological Association (MMA) has started working with communities in Bagan and Pyu sites to encourage public awareness and develop local cultural management organisations for planning and resisting looting among villagers. These local efforts will need more funding and capacity building to expand towards sites outside Burman historical attention.

Most archaeologists agree that urban development, agricultural practice, and looting have extensively destroyed Thailand’s archaeological heritage. I write this in the hope that some efforts could be diverted towards containing ‘trinket’ collection trends among the growing middle class that have led to a very widespread and destructive small-scale looting practice. However, in the long term, it is necessary to develop a further understanding of the effectiveness of law enforcement on small-scale looting. To minimise looting, communities need to be offered better alternative careers that can potentially involve heritage development.

Cost of Trinkets: A Growing Archaeological Looting Network Between Thailand and Myanmar | Tea Circle

Gold find near Angkor Borei sparks frenzy

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Frenzy over the discovery of a gold bead in Takeo. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160606

Villagers embarked on a treasure hunt for gold when a bead was found in a rice field in Cambodia’s Takeo province. Authorities had to step in to protect the area, which had archaeological significance due to its proximity to Angkor Borei.

Frenzy over the discovery of a gold bead in Takeo. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160606

Frenzy over the discovery of a gold bead in Takeo. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160606

Chance find prompts small-scale gold rush in Takeo
Phnom Penh Post, 06 June 2016

Residents in Takeo province’s Angkor village have flocked to look for gold in a rice field behind the village after a villager tending cows found a gold bead, though authorities have cautioned against the gold rush, saying the area has archaeological significance.

Nob Dol, chief of Prek Phtorl commune, said a mass of villagers rushed to search for gold after the villager found the bead near a dike on his way home on Thursday.

“As I’ve heard, about seven people were lucky to find small beads of gold; some small, some big,” he said. “Some said they found up to [150 grams] of gold. There was also news that some found gold worth $1,000 to $2,000, but I did not see that.”

Officials from the provincial department of culture and fine arts went to the site and asked people to stop digging the field, Dol said. The owner of the rice field also sought help from authorities to halt the digging.

Full story here.

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Last chance to catch Sumatra: Isle of Gold

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The Sumatra: Isle of Gold has been exhibiting at the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore since the end of July, but I hadn’t had the chance to take a visit because of some reason or another. But finally, I had the chance to catch the exhibition this morning, and lucky thing too – the exhibition is going to close this Sunday!

Sumatra: Isle of Gold


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