Bukit Tengkorak: The next new archaeological park?

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The Sabahan site of Bukit Tengkorak is slated by the Malaysian government to be developed as the next new tourism site and archaeological park. The neolithic artifact remains from Bukit Tengkorak give the impression that the site was a nexus for exchange in ideas and good from island Southeast Asia to the west to the Melanesia in the east.

Bukit Tengkorak To Be Developed Into New Tourism Attraction
Bernama, 18 April 2008
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Wednesday Rojak #20

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In this edition of Rojak, we take a look at some of the cultural and archaeological heritage of Malaysia and Indonesia:

  • The Treasure of Java is a collection of links and information about Javanese heritage and history.
  • Raja Iskandar heads up to the heartland of Perak to learn about the gendang (a Malay drum), and its use in royal court music.
  • And in this slightly dated post, Tesselar brings us to the Bujang Valley Archaeological Museum.

In this series of weekly rojaks (published on Wednesdays) I’ll feature other sites in the blogosphere that are related to Southeast Asia and archaeology in general. Got a recommendation for the next Wednesday rojak? Email me!
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5 Southeast Asian archaeology sites to visit (that are not Angkor)

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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.

Wednesday Rojak #15

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We’ve got a majority of posts from Cambodia in this edition, so let’s just roll up our sleeves and tuck in:

  • Alvin brings us updates on a film in production – Jayavarman VII, considered to be the greatest king of Angkor.
  • Archaeology Magazine brings us the top ten discoveries of 2007 – not surprisingly, the discovery of greater Angkor makes the list.
  • Visithra shares some stunning photographs of the Angkoran temples of Preah Khan, Ta Prohm and Bantaey Samre.
  • While Romeo blogs about Angkor Wat.
  • And in our only non-Angkor post for this edition of Wednesday Rojak, we read from the blog of John Cheong, who is exploring West Malaysia on a bicycle. In this post, he makes a visit to the Bujang Valley Archaeological Museum.

In this series of weekly rojaks (published on Wednesdays) I’ll feature other sites in the blogosphere that are of related to archaeology in Southeast Asia. Got a recommendation for the next Wednesday rojak? Email me!

Is there a lost Khmer city in Pahang?

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First the lost city of Johor, now the lost city of Pahang? The existence of seven pyramid-like hills near Lake Chini is believed to be the remains of a lost city – but could this city be part of the Khmer empire? And if so, what was it doing so far south?

Lost city of the Khmer empire?
New Straits Times, 10 December 2007

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Nalanda and the Southeast Asian connection

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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 yesterday.sg; 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’

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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!

Differing concepts of "Malay"-ness

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26 October 2007 (Jakarta Post) – I mentioned in the previous post about the Negara Kertagama about how Malaysia and Indonesia are embroiled in a dispute over the a traditional song, and I just wanted to highlight this editorial in the Jakarta Post which might shed light on our non-Southeast Asian readers who might not be familiar with the politics of the region. The term “Malay” does not mean the same thing in Malaysia and Indonesia!

This difference in the definition of Malay, while essentially a political one, has profound consequences in exploring the archaeology of the different Malay peoples in the region. I hope this editorial might add a little nuanced understanding in how current politics affects archaeology.

Malaysia, Indonesia out of tune
Ong Hock Chuan

Neighboring and serumpun (from the same root) countries Malaysia and Indonesia have been out of step with each other lately over the traditional song Rasa Sayang.

The song and dance over Rasa Sayang began when the Malaysian government used it as a jingle to promote the country’s tourism.

Indonesians were aghast that a homespun Ambonese song had been appropriated by its neighbor. Some legislators called for the Malaysian government to be sued in the international court for stealing an Indonesian song.

Malaysia reacted by saying that the song was as much theirs as Indonesia’s since the song came from the Malay Archipelago. And since Malaysia’s culture is dominantly Malay, they had a right to use it.

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Bujang Valley Archaeological Museum

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Last week, I featured the reconstructed temples (‘candi’) that populate Kedah’s Bujang Valley in Malaysia, an area rich in archaeological finds dating as far back as the 5th century. Today, we’ll explore the Bujang Valley Archaeological Museum, which sits at the entrance of the archaeological park.

Bujang Valley Archaeological Museum - Interior

To be honest, I was a little apprehensive about visiting the museum. I had heard reports that due to the growing influence of Islam in the country, the Bujang Valley Archaeological Archaeological Museum was somewhat muted in mentioning that the port settlement that once resided in Bujang Valley was Buddhist and Hindu (see comments to this post). Fortunately, I can gladly say that there was no such attempt to gloss the past, and the museum was very frank to point out the ancient Buddhist and Hindu influences on the civilisation that once flourished here.

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