Sharing our Archaeological Heritage – Day 3

No Comments

After nine sessions and 37 papers, the final day was certainly about letting our hair down and enjoying the new friendships made – along with taking the obligatory photos! Day 3 was a tour of the various cultural sites of Johor: the morning was a visit to the Johor Art Gallery as well as the Sultan’s palace museum, while in the afternoon, I hitched a ride with an international group of archaeologists who wanted to make a quick visit to Singapore. In lieu of the free ride home I gave them the grand tour of Singapore (abridged for the five-hour time frame).

Some of the new friends I made during these past three days: This is Goh Hsiao Mei, a MA student at Universiti Sains Malaysia. She presented a paper on some human skeletal remains she excavated at Gua Kajang at Perak, not very far away from the site of Gua Gunung Runtuh where Perak Man was excavated.

Paul Tacon of Griffith University in Australia, along with Anahita from Iran who is currently an MA student at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. All three of us are researching rock art – Dr Tacon in Australia, which Anahita and I are looking at the same corpus of rock art from Peninsular Thailand and Malaysia.

So, where does one take an international (Philippines, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam) group of archaeologists visiting Singapore for only a few hours to spare? I decided on one cultural site and one shopping site. For the cultural site, we went up to Fort Canning, one of the most historically rich areas of Singapore for a visit to the Fort Canning Archaeological Display, as well as to take a walk through the national park. My guests seemed quite taken with the entire place, not just the dig site alone, but with other park features such as the spice garden.

And what of shopping? Singaporeans would probably recognise the location – Sim Lim Square, *the* place for cheap, quality electronics. No kidding – a couple of them actually specified this place by name! It was here that I bid my guests goodbye as they went about shopping, and later back to Johor.

As for me, I returned home and had a good rest – back to the work grind for me!

Sharing Our Archaeological Heritage – Day 2


The second and last of the paper presentations went by today with an near-marathon run of five sessions. By the end of the day I was having a little trouble concentrating already – glad that tomorrow will see a change of pace as we head out for a tour of the archaeological site of Johor!

Today we heard two calls for collaboration; Paul Tacon announced his Eagleandowl network for research themes in human evolution, creativity and cultural heritage research in the Australasian region. And from Vietnam, archaeologist Vu The Long called for the setting up of a network for sharing zooarchaeological information. To back up his appeal, he gave the analogy of communal water pots that are placed outside homes in Myanmar – water is shared and given to anyone who wants a drink. In the same way, he called for a similar spirit in the sharing of information and collaboration.

No papers on rock art presented in this conference – although I learnt that some rock art sites in Sulawesi have been quarried to destuction, much to my dismay. On the brght side, after speaking to archaeologists from Thailand and Vietnam I’ve begun to hear about more sites in the region. There’s certainly a lot more out there that needs to be properly documented!

No Wednesday Rojak for today – back next week!

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!