[Lecture] Bangkok: Past and Present

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If you’re in Bangkok this week, SEAMEO SPAFA and Siam Society are having the annual Capital’s Archaeology Lectures on Wednesday, 23 May 2018 at 18.30 hrs. This year, the talks focus on the archaeology and urban heritage of Bangkok. (Disclosure: I work for SEAMEO SPAFA, and this lecture series is an event I am organising).

The SEAMEO Regional Centre for Archaeology and Fine Arts (SEAMEO SPAFA) and the Siam Society will organize two lectures on the archaeology and urban conservation of Bangkok, as part of SEAMEO SPAFA’s lecture series on the archaeology of the Capitals of Southeast Asia.

  • Archaeology in Bangkok
    Bangkok was found in 1782 by the first monarch of the present Chakri dynasty. Nevertheless, historical records and archaeological evidences indicate the dynamic of settlement patterns through time from Ayutthaya period to present (ca. 800 years ago). Nowadays, Bangkok has been changed rapidly through the urban expansion and infrastructure developments. Archaeological studies in Bangkok have started systematically in the past 25 years. All of the archaeological excavations were considered as rescue/salvage archaeology or salvage of archaeological evidence before the archaeological sites were destroyed in order to develop, conserve, or improve knowledge regarding historic activities at these sites. There are more than 30 archaeological excavation sites, which are layered under dense infrastructure. Archaeological excavation project work closely with infrastructure development projects such as the mass rapid transit projects. Very tangible ruins and artefacts were revealed through a systematic excavation. The excavation of Siriraj Piyamaharajkarun Hospital is the best example of archaeology in Bangkok, which was conducted while digging to prepare the base construction of a new medical building in 2008. Many artefacts including the remains of wooden boat and ancient city wall were found. Therefore, an archaeological study was conducted in this area for this purpose.
    Dr Kannika Suteerattanapirom is archaeologist and assistant professor of the faculty of archaeology, Silpakorn university in Bangkok, Thailand. Her ongoing research focuses on urban archaeology in Bangkok. She has undertaken numerous archaeological excavation projects in Bangkok. Her current research project entitled ‘state of knowledge of Bangkok archaeology: information, direction and plan of conservation and development in the future’.
  • Rattanakosin: Urban heritage of Bangkok
    “Rattanakosin Island” is the origin of Bangkok metropolitan area. Urban permanence falls under two criteria: tangible permanences, mostly old buildings inventoried as historic monuments, and intangible permanences, ancient urban features that remain in the city today in the form of activities and functions. The Chao Phraya River is the major structuring element of the city since its origin. The river and the three concentric boundary canals, dug successively, have limited and defined Rattanakosin Island, according to the traditional notions of Thai culture and in agreement with the former treaties on military art. The river and the three axes of urban expansion are the major permanence have guided the development of the city since the founding of Rattanakosin to the present metropolis. Today the construction of the road network has lessened the importance of water in the city and led to the disappearance of traditional urban features such as floating markets and clusters of houseboats, but the activity related to the river remains intense.
    Dr. Pornthum Thumwimol is a Landscape Architect of the Fine Arts Department in the Ministry of Culture, Thailand. He received his Doctorate in Architecture from the University of Paris VIII and the Research Institute for Architecture (IPRAUS) in Paris, a Pre-doctorate (DEA) in the Philosophy of Landscape architecture and Master degree in Architecture and Urban Planning, Architecture School of Paris de la Villette, Paris, France and a Bachelor of Landscape architecture from Chulalongkorn University. He has engaged in a wide range of design and planning projects, both in architecture and landscape architecture and received numerous prestigious awards, including The Association of Siamese Architects (ASA) Excellence and Honour Awards for the design of Panumrung information centre (1992). He is involved in the establishment of cultural landscape studies in Thailand and has been a writer and co-editor for several books and articles.


Now reporting ‘live’ from Bangkok

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I’m finally back from my holiday and have also transitioned to a new country – greetings from Bangkok! I just started with the SEAMEO Regional Centre for Archaeology and Fine Arts (SEAMEO-SPAFA, check them out here).

It’s a big move, from cool and dry Canberra to sunny and humid Bangkok, but one I am very happy to make. My role in SPAFA is to promote archaeology in Southeast Asia, and so there is much synergy between my professional role and my work with this website. As has been in my previous professional affiliations, I run SEAArch in a personal capacity and my personal opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of my employer.

I’ll be back to posting news again this week. In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed the first-ever Southeast Asian Archaeology Photo Festival that has been running the last two weeks. I think I will make it an annual event!

Categories: Personal


SEAMEO-SPAFA looking for specialists in Performing and Visual Arts

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Three positions are open at the SEAMEO Regional Centre for Archaeology and Fine Arts (SEAMEO-SPAFA) based in Bangkok, two senior specialist positions in Performing Arts and Visual Arts, and a secretarial position. The positions are open to citizens of ASEAN countries (although the secretarial position is open only to Thais). Deadline for applications is 31 August 2014.


More details about the positions and how to apply at the SEAMEO-SPAFA website here.

Learning about Southeast Asian Rock Art


This week and next, I’m at the Training/Workshop on Rock Art Studies in Southeast Asia hosted by SEAMEO-SPAFA (the regional centre for archaeology and fine arts). This gathering sees almost 30 participants coming from almost every part of Southeast Asia to share about the rock art of Southeast Asia, and learn new theories and methodologies for rock art recording and research. As such, you might not hear updates from me for these few weeks till I get back to my normal office routine.

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I can’t believe I actually missed this website out, but better late than never! SEAMEO-SPAFA is the Regional Centre for Archaeology and Fine Arts under the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation (SEAMEO).


SEAMEO-SPAFA’s objectives include promoting cultural awareness and appreciation of Southeast Asia, particularly in the fields of archaeology. They have a good list of publications, including the SPAFA journal which is published three times a year.

I’ll be placing a link to SEAMEO-SPAFA in the links section, where you can find a list of other online resources in Southeast Asian archaeology.