An archaeological site in southern Myanmar may be the missing link in a chain that explains how sublime celadon porcelain from Asia ended up as far as the Middle East centuries ago.
Celadon pottery, distinctive by its jade green celadon color, was highly prized by China’s imperial court in ancient times.
Researchers at the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, as well as Kyoto University, recently joined a team from Myanmar’s Ministry of Culture, along with specialists from the archaeology department at the University of Yangon, to excavate the site on privately-held land.
The Kyoto University team was led by Mamoru Shibayama, director of the ASEAN Center at the university. The Feb. 3-6 dig was at a kiln operated in Mawlamyaing, now the capital of Mon State in southern Myanmar that faces the Andaman Sea.
Visitors to Phnom Penh may already have gone to see the Killing Fields at Choeung Ek, but the site also holds significant archaeological value: the remains of kilns have been found there, but the quick development in the area means that much of this archaeology is being lost.
Archaeological site at the Choeung Ek killing fields under threat as fast-paced urbanisation takes its toll on the area
Buried in the dirt at the Choeung Ek killing fields, among the skeletal remains of Pol Pot’s victims, are far more ancient relics: black, red and brown ceramic shards that have added a crucial page to Phnom Penh’s early history.
The discovery of 69 pottery kilns in the early 2000s by archaeologist Phon Kaseka indicated that an industrious community established itself in the fifth century, about a thousand years before Phnom Penh became the capital.