International Conference on Srivijaya Civilization, July 16 – 19, 2008

From the Palembang Centre for Archaeology:

It is the general assumption that Srivijaya was an powerful maritime kingdom that played an important role in the political forum in early Southeast Asia for many centuries, from 7th century to the end of 13th century AD. Just as its sudden appearance not very much is known of its decline, for that matter, the extent of this hegemony especially in Insular Southeast Asia during the height of its power. It influenced many social aspects in the region at that time, such as history of political life, beliefs, culture and economy.
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Latea Cave, burial site of Pamona ancestors

The Latea Cave in Sulawesi, Indonesia, has long been a burial site for the Pamona people, who have interred their dead in wood coffins. The practice of wood coffin cave burials is quite similar to the burials among the Toraja people in South Sulawesi. There have also been some coffin cave burials reported in Sabah (Borneo) and Thanh Hoa province in Vietnam.

Latea Cave, burial site of Pamona ancestors
Jakarta Post, 11 Feb 2007
Link goes to the Jakarta Post website, direct link to the article may not be available
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5 Southeast Asian archaeology sites to visit (that are not Angkor)

Forget Angkor. Sure, it’s one of the largest religious monuments in the world, and you gotta admit that with spectacular architecture, sculpture and bas-reliefs there’s no wonder over two million people visited Cambodia last year. But the archaeological sites in Southeast Asian are so much more than the 11th century temple to Vishnu.

With some suggestions from the facebook group, SEAArch gives you the internet tour of five other spectacular archaeological sites in Southeast Asia open to the casual visitor – and three of them are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. So step in and take a look at some of the other great sites Southeast Asia has to offer – in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and yes, even Singapore!

Note: The names in parentheses denote the nearest airport.

10th century Sanggurah Stone returns to Indonesia

A Javanese stone tablet that was taken by British colonialists in the early 19th century returns to Indonesia. The four-tonne stone dates to the Mataram Kingdom and carries an inscription in old Javanese. It is ascribed to the Javanese king, Sri Maharaja Rakai Pangkaja Dyah Wawa Sri Wijayalokanamottungga.

Ancient artifact to return to Indonesia
Jakarta Post, 24 Jan 2008

Indonesia negotiates return of ancient stone from Scotland
MSN News, 24 Jan 2008
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Museums expose treasures of the past

This feature in the Jakarta Post talks about the different museums in Jakarta – the National Museum, the Jakarta History Museum, the Wayang Museum and the Arts and Ceramic Museum are some of the 50 museums in Indonesia’s capital.

Museums expose treasures of the past
Jakarta Post, 13 January 2008
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Book Review: The Discovery of the Hobbit

Duncan Graham, a writer based in Surabaya, gives his take on the book The Discovery of the Hobbit by Mike Morwood and Penny van Oosterzee. Another review of the book has been posted on SEAArch here.

The Trouble With Hobbits
The Jakarta Post, 23 December 2007
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Relooking Indonesian cultural artefacts

Following the wake of the stolen museum artefacts in Indonesia, an editorial in the Jakarta Post wonders if many of the artefacts in the museums are even genuine.

Museum thefts suggest we might want to weigh the gold on Monas
Jakarta Post, 07 December 2007
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Bali – not just for tourism, but archaeology too

Unlike the rest of the nation, the Indonesian island of Bali is somewhat of an anomaly because of its strong Hindu population and culture. Balinese religion has remained largely intact and true to the Hindu-Buddhist traditions that dominated the region before the arrival of Islam. Besides being a popular regional tourist destination, the island of Bali also contains some significant archaeological treasures – including a local version of the Valley of the Kings.

Goa Gajah, Bali. CC image by Kumasawa
Creative Commons image by kumasawa.

Tracing the sites of Bali’s historical kingdoms
The Jakarta Post, 08 December 2007
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Nalanda and the Southeast Asian connection

If you’re in Singapore between now and March 2008, don’t miss a unique opportunity to drop by the Asian Civilisations Museum for a special exhibition called On the Nalanda Trail, which showcases Buddhism in India, China and Southeast Asia and traces the pilgrimages of three Chinese monks as they travel to India and back. I’ve written about the exhibition’s focus on China and India at; here, I’ll write about the exhibition in relation to Buddhism in Southeast Asia.

Nalanda Trail - SEA section

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Live from ‘Sharing Our Archaeological Heritage’

I’m writing from Johor Bahru, Malaysia, where sessions at the international archaeology seminar organised by the Association of Malaysian Archaeolgists are underway. Monday’s been pretty packed filled with session after session of presentations from the different parts of Southeast Asia – this seminar’s theme is ‘Sharing Our Archaeological Heritage’.

Keynote speech by Dr Stephen Oppenheimer

Yesterday’s sessions began with the keynote speech by Oxford’s Stephen Oppenheimer about Southeast Asia’s role in the various waves of human migration. Explaining from a genetic perspective, he suggested the strong genetic evidence for a single southern route (by hugging the coast via India) out of Africa into Southeast Asia and Asia some 80,000 years ago. In more recent times, he also suggested indigenous expansions of local populations within Southeast Asia instead of a single ‘out of Taiwan’ theory to explain human migration into Australia, New Zealand and Polynesia.

Other presentations that caught my ear today was Dr Rasmi Shoocongdej’s work in Northwestern Thailand – I had a nice chat with her during lunch about conducting my fieldwork surveys in Thailand next year and also received some advice from her. Of course, homo floresiensis had to pop up – and from Dr. Harry Widianto’s presentation. I heard why he didn’t consider the hobbit to be a new species. It seems to me that the divide on opinion is very much based on nationalistic lines – with the Indonesians very much denying that homo floresiensis is a new species.

Another day of presentations on Tuesday, and then on Wednesday, we go on an archaeological tour of Johor!