Archaeologists discover temple complex in South Sumatra

Archaeologists in Indonesia discover a temple complex site in Southern Sumatra that may date to the Majapahit or Srivijaya period.

Archaeologists temple complex site in Pagaralam
Antara, via Kompas, 29 Aug 2012 (in Indonesian)
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Last chance to catch Sumatra: Isle of Gold

The Sumatra: Isle of Gold has been exhibiting at the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore since the end of July, but I hadn’t had the chance to take a visit because of some reason or another. But finally, I had the chance to catch the exhibition this morning, and lucky thing too – the exhibition is going to close this Sunday!

Sumatra: Isle of Gold

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Thailand prepares more sites for the world heritage list

Thailand announces ongoing fact-finding programmes to propose five new sites into Unesco’s World Heritage Site list by next year. Among the sites are the ancient cities of Chiang Saen and Suvannakhomkham, which shares Laotian territory; the Lanna kingdom in the north, as well as the Srivijaya-Nakhon Si Tammarat cultural route.

Slanted Roof
Creative Commons License photo credit: The Wandering Angel

Ministry to seek heritage status for ancient cities
The Nation, 4 June 2009
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Bronze Buddha stolen from Palembang museum; thieves captured

The police moved quickly to apprehend a gang of four behind the theft of a Bronze Buddha statue from a museum in Palembang. One of the thieves was shot in the leg while trying to resist arrest. Ouch.

S. Sumatra Police question museum employees over missing Buddha statue
Jakarta Post, 13 March 2009

South Sumatra police nabs Buddhist artifact thieves
Jakarta Post, 15 March 2009
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Thai Srivijaya to be a World Heritage Site?

May thanks to Andy for the heads up. The Thai Fine Arts Department is hoping to propose three new sites in Thailand: Lanna, a section of the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok and the Srivijaya ruins in Southern Thailand.

Slanted Roof
Creative Commons License photo credit: The Wandering Angel

Anusorn pushes for listing of Thai sites
Bangkok Post, 17 June 2008
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International Conference on Srivijaya Civilization, July 16 – 19, 2008

From the Palembang Centre for Archaeology:

It is the general assumption that Srivijaya was an powerful maritime kingdom that played an important role in the political forum in early Southeast Asia for many centuries, from 7th century to the end of 13th century AD. Just as its sudden appearance not very much is known of its decline, for that matter, the extent of this hegemony especially in Insular Southeast Asia during the height of its power. It influenced many social aspects in the region at that time, such as history of political life, beliefs, culture and economy.
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Nalanda and the Southeast Asian connection

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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A Short History of Malaysia

Today’s short history series focuses on Malaysia. Again, the information here is scant and sometimes contradictory.

16 July 2007 (Brunei Times) – Today’s short history series focuses on Malaysia. Again, the information here is scant and sometimes contradictory.

History of Malaysia

Scientists have found archaeological evidence of human inhabitants in the Niah Caves, Sarawak, from about 40,000 years ago.The earliest settlers on the Malay Peninsula came from southern China over a period of thousands of years. They became the ancestors of the Orang Asli.

During the 1000’s B.C., new groups of migrants who spoke a language related to Malay came to Malaysia. These people became the ancestors of the Malays and the Orang Laut.

Small Malayan kingdoms existed in the 2nd or 3rd centuries AD, when adventurers from India arrived and initiated more than 1,000 years of Indian influence.

About A.D. 1400, a group of Malay-speaking migrants came from Srivijaya, a trading kingdom on the island of Sumatra.These newly arrived immigrants established a commercial kingdom called Malacca.

Read more about the history of Malaysia.

More books about the early history and archaeology of Malaysia:
Early Kingdoms of the Indonesian Archipelago and the Malay Peninsula by P. M. Munoz
Southeast Asia: From Prehistory to History by P. S. Bellwood and I. Glover (Eds) (contains a chapter on the prehistory of Malaysia)
The Malay Sultanates 1400-1700 (The Encyclopedia of Malaysia)
Early History (The Encyclopedia of Malaysia) by Nik Hassan Shuhaimi Nik Abdul Rahman (Ed)

A short history of Indonesia

Perhaps the Brunei Times is running a series about writing the short histories of different countries in Southeast Asia. Today, it publishes a short history of Indonesia – not particularly accurate, it gives a sense as if there were a series of empires that replaced one another, that Srivijaya was replaced by the Sailendra and the Mataram who in turn were replaced by the Majapahit. In reality, Srivijaya lasted all the way to the 12th century before getting run out of Sumatra by the Majapahit. (See my earlier article about Srivijaya.) The Sailendra empire also had dynastic links with Srivijaya. The article also makes no distinction between the shifts in centres of power between Sumatra (Srivijaya) and Java (Sailendra, Mataram and Majapahit). You might also want to look up the Indonesian timeline featured earlier in this site.

13 July 2007 (Brunei Times) – Perhaps the Brunei Times is running a series about writing the short histories of different countries in Southeast Asia. Today, it publishes a short history of Indonesia – not particularly accurate, it gives a sense as if there were a series of empires that replaced one another, that Srivijaya was replaced by the Sailendra and the Mataram who in turn were replaced by the Majapahit. In reality, Srivijaya lasted all the way to the 12th century before getting run out of Sumatra by the Majapahit. (See my earlier article about Srivijaya.) The Sailendra empire also had dynastic links with Srivijaya. The article also makes no distinction between the shifts in centres of power between Sumatra (Srivijaya) and Java (Sailendra, Mataram and Majapahit). You might also want to look up the Indonesian timeline featured earlier in this site.

Indonesian history

The Dutch began to colonize Indonesia in the early 17th century; the islands were occupied by Japan from 1942 to 1945. Indonesia declared its independence after Japan’s surrender, but it required four years before the Netherlands agreed to relinquish its colony.

Fossilized remains of Homo erectus, popularly known as the “Java Man”, suggest the Indonesian archipelago was inhabited two million to 500,000 years ago.

Austronesian peoplearrived in Indonesia around 2000 BCE, and confined the native Melanesian peoples to the far eastern regions as they expanded.

Ideal agricultural conditions, and the mastering of rice cultivation allowed villages, towns, and small kingdoms to flourish by the first century CE.

Indonesian strategic sea-lane position fostered inter-island and international trade. For example, trade links with both Indian kingdoms and China were established several centuries BCE. Trade has since fundamentally shaped Indonesian history.

From the seventh century CE, the powerful Srivijaya naval kingdom flourished as a result of trade and the influences of Hinduism and Buddhism .

Between the eighth and 10th centuries CE, the agricultural Buddhist Sailendra and Hindu Mataram dynasties thrived and declined in inland Java, leaving grand religious monuments such as Borobudur and Prambanan.

Majapahit kingdom was founded in eastern Java in the late 13th century. Under Gajah Mada, its influence stretched over much of Indonesia. This period is often referred to as a “Golden Age” in Indonesian history.


Books about the history of Indonesia:
Southeast Asia: From Prehistory to History by P. S. Bellwood and I. Glover (Eds)
Early Kingdoms of the Indonesian Archipelago and the Malay Peninsula by P. M. Munoz
Ancient History (The Indonesian Heritage Series) by Indonesian Heritage