Mid-December archaeology linkdump

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It’s mid-December already, and I haven’t posted any news so far on account of being in Hanoi for the first couple of weeks, and then falling majorly sick after returning. So rather than trying to catch up with three week’s worth of archaeology news from Southeast Asia, here’s all of them in one brilliant link dump, sorted by date (most recent ones first) and country.

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Historic maritime expedition on ancient boat setting sail on Saturday

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Final preparations are underway for a team from the Philippines to retrace the ancient maritime routes using a modern reconstruction of an ancient boat, called the Balangay. The 15-metre boat was rebuilt by craftsmen using traditional methods (such as the choice of wood and the use of wooden dowels rather than metal nails) will be manned by a crew of nine. Setting sail from Manila, they will follow a shore-hugging route to Tawi-Tawi, on the southern end of the Philippines. If all goes well (and it is going to be a long journey lasting until at least the end of 2010), the expedition might extend west, as far as Madagascar. Good luck to the crew!

Balangays have been known to be in use as early as 1,600 years ago – I think that’s probably one of the earliest evidence for seafaring that we have material evidence for – but the technology to travel across the seas is probably much older. I won’t be surprised if ancient peoples in this region had access to that technology a couple of millennia before then. Finding such evidence will be much trickier, since wood doesn’t preserve well in this climate.

Filipinos to sail around the world aboard ancient boat
GMA News, 20 June 2009
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Diorama of Maitum Jar finds opened in city hall

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The Maitum City Hall is hosting a special diorama featuring the anthrpomorphic jar finds from the area, in conjunction with the city’s 50th anniversary. The jars, first found in Ayub Cave, feature faces which are believed to contain the remains of the person whose likeness is on the jar. A second cache of jars was recovered last year from illegal antiquities dealers who were trying to smuggle the jars out of Maitum. The jars, dated between 5 BC and 225 AD, are quite unique and no similar examples have been discovered elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

Philippines opens exhibit on Mindanao archeological finds
Mindanao Examiner, 05 May 2009

Maitum opens diorama of archaeological discovery
PIA Information Services, 05 May 2009
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Maitum jar diorama on display from next week

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Replicas of the famous Maitum Jars will be on display at a specially-made diorama in the Maitum Town Hall starting May 5 for the town’s 50th anniversary celebrations. Plans are underway for a museum to be constructed in Maitum to showcase the real artefacts, currently housed in the National Museum in Manila.

Diorama of Maitum artifacts opens May 5; Maitum site declared “important cultural property”
Minda News, 25 April 2009
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Smuggled Maitum jars represent a distinct group

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The remianing bags of Maitum jars that were recovered from looters last year are to be sent to the National Museum, after preliminary studies suggest that the faces depicted on them represent a distinctly separate group from the Ayub Cave pottery that was found 15 years ago.

Maitum Jars, Minda News, 03 September 2008

National Museum orders transport of remaining seized cultural artifacts
Minda News, 23 April 2009
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Looted artefacts may represent an entirely different tribe

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It’s taken a long time, but Philippine archaeologists are finally examining a set of anthropomorphic jars that were recently seized from looters. The artefacts are thought to have been excavated as far back as 10 years ago. The unique nature of these jars coupled with ethnographic knowledge of the peoples currently inhabiting the region indicate that these jars may be the remains of an as-yet-unidentified population that once lived in Southern Philippines.

Artifacts from smugglers in Sarangani may lead to lost tribe
ABS-CBN News, 26 October 2008
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Philippine National Museum reiterates that underwater archaeology project is environmentally-harmless

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The Philippine National Museum, in conjunction with an underwater archaeology foundation surveying for shipwrecks in Philippine waters, reiterated that the surveying activities in the waters of the eastern Catanduanes province do not have a detrimental environmental impact. The survey is searching in particular for two Spanish galleons said to have sunk off the coast in the vicinity.

Nat’l Museum says HNAF galleon search “safe”
Catanduanes Tribune, 15 October 2008
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Philippine tunnel workers get heritage training

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Tunnel workers working under Plaza Independencia in Cebu City will undergo heritage training to recognise and preserve pre-hispanic artefacts they might come across while digging. The move by the National Museum is to help prevent further looting from the site.

Heritage training for tunnel workers
Cebu Daily News, 28 September 2008
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Mindanao caves need further study and money

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The National Museum of Philippines has submitted an additional proposal for the study and protection of the recently discovered Sagel Cave. There’s much more work needed to be done on the cave and surrounding areas, but it looks like budgetary constraints will hamper much of the work – a common occurrence for archaeology in Southeast Asia and around the world.

National Museum to send proposed budget for more studies of Sagel Cave
Minda News, 28 April 2008
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