Happy holidays everyone! This is my last post for the year, and as such, it is a good time to do a roundup of things that happened in the world of Southeast Asian Archaeology in 2020. Here are some of the most significant signifcant and popular posts from the year:
Covid-19 messes everything up, but also forces us to virtual learning
The elephant in the room is Covid-19, the global pandemic which has disrupted everyone’s lives and the effects of which will likely persist into next few years. Global travel came to a halt, many research programmes and conferences have been postponed or cancelled, and a precipitous drop of tourists has impacted the livelihoods of many. You can read about all the stories related to Covid-19 here (over 50 and counting), but some of the more notable stories include:
- Visitors to Angkor Archaeological Park down a whopping 80%
- The National Historical Commission of the Philippines announcing funding for restoring heritage sites in 2021 removed
- ‘No rain, no visitors and no income’: Bagan adjusts to tourism crash
- Lockdown takes toll on Luang Prabang
Working from home and telecommuting have become much more normal now, and this year has seen a rise in online webinars and presentations. In fact, it is easier to attend public lectures because many of them are streamed online. I’ve put together a number of online resources on this website during this period, most notably the Virtual Archaeology page where there are a plenty of sites and museums to visit virtually, a set of colouring pages for the artistically inclined, and the Online Lecture Library which contains over 130 lectures related to the archaeology of Southeast Asia.
This Year’s Most Popular (Viral?) Posts
These were the ten most visited posts and pages on the site this year. I guess that readers found them interesting or useful, and some other cases the stories went viral – eg. the Cambodian TikTok user and the Philippine Likha received an enormous amount of attention for some reason.
- Cambodian TikTok user arrested for disparaging Angkor Wat (September)
- PH National Museum receives valuable Philippine artifact (January)
- Explore Southeast Asia through these virtual galleries (March)
- Access over 90 free lectures on Southeast Asian Archaeology (April)
- UCLA archeologist busts myth of ‘2,000-year-old rice terraces’ (May)
- [Paper] Early ground axe technology in Wallacea: The first excavations on Obi Island (August)
- Foreigner hunted for defecating in Intramuros (January)
- Mysterious wood structure found at bottom of Angkor Wat pond (March)
- [Obituary] Prof. Janice Stargardt (January)
- Ancient forge discovered in Kedah (January)
Other Significant Stories and Interesting Discoveries
Even with the pandemic going on, there were still a number of interesting discoveries and developments going on around the region, such as the inaugural issue of Pratu (the Journal of Buddhist and Hindu Art, Architecture and Archaeology of Ancient to Premodern Southeast Asia) being published, and UP’s Archaeological Studies Program celebrating their 25th anniversary.
Cambodia continued to be active with archaeological work in the Angkor Archaeological Park: a forgotten cache of sculptural fragments was discovered at Angkor Wat; and a pedestal and inscription were discovered at Tonle Snguot. Restorations to the Srah Srang reservoir also yielded some unusual finds in the form of crystals and turtle reliquaries. Elsewhere in the country, lion sculptures were found in seperate ocassions at Banteay Chhmar and Phnom Penh.
A number of artefacts from the colonial period was discovered in Malaysia: in Penang, the largest cannons were found in Fort Cornwallis, while more recently historical artefacts were found in Kuching. In Vietnam, excavations were conducted at the Cat Tien archaeological site in Lam Dong province and at a Chinese tomb site in Ha Tinh province. Prehistoric burials were also uncovered in the Mandalay region of Myanmar.
In Thailand, the destruction of the 120-year-old Bombay Burmah Building in Phrae caused an uproar, leading to the authorities promising to rebuild it in full. Two unusual finds were reported in Thailand: an inscribed terracotta plate from Nakhon Pathom province, and the largest-ever bronze drum in Thailand was discovered in Mukdahan province.
Most Liked Images on Instagram in 2020
Yes, I’m still active on Instagram although I haven’t posted much in the second half of the year. These are the top five most liked images from this year:
Thanks for the support and coffee!
And finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you, my readers and supporters for following and using this site. If this is your first time here, consider signing up to the mailing list or following Southeast Asian Archaeology on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit. Also, a special shoutout to my recent patrons who helped offset the costs of running this website by buying me a coffee recently: Alison Carter, Bérénice Bellina, John Miksic, Wesley Clarke, Bill, Jim Dodge and other anonymous supporters.
I’m always trying to find ways to make this site more useful as a resource page beyond just a news site. Please contact me or leave a comment if you have any suggestions!
To call this year memorable would be an understatement – and given the global pandemic situation and how it has changed everyone’s lives, this might be a year that many would like to forget. If you are reading this, I hope that you are safe and that your next year will be better than this one. Signing off for this year, see you in the next!