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Voyage of the Balangay reaches Borneo

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The Voyage of the Balangay, a reconstruction of a Filipino watercraft that sailed the Philippine waters last year is now in its second leg of its journey – a trip through the waters of Southeast Asia. The Balangay recently called at Kota Kinabalu and is on its way to Kuching before continuing on to Singapore and Vietnam.

Retracing the sailing bravado of Filipino ancestors
Daily Express, 22 August 2010
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Linkdump: Last month’s archaeology news

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Finally, I’m back! I’ll write a short post later about what I’ve been up to in the field (unless you’re my facebook friend already and seen all the pictures already!). After about six weeks away from the blog, I’ve been spending the last week just processing and backing up the data from my trip and sifting through the news feeds for stories I’ve missed. Here’s a roundup of stories for the time while I was away:

Cambodia

  • Phnom Penh Post, 30 April 2012: A brief firefight at Preah Vihear leaves one Cambodian soldier shot.
  • Science Codex, 09 May 2012: The discovery of a previously-unknown people living in the Cardamom mountains, contemporary to Angkor and evidenced by jar burials is announced.
  • The Times Live, 10 May 2012: Another story on the jar burial culture in the Cardamom mountains. [Link no longer active]
  • TR Weekly, 11 May 2012: Siem Reap sees a dramatic 45% increase in visitors during the first quarter of 2012. [Link no longer active]
  • DVXUser, 14 May 2012: Oh Angkor! is a minidocumentary by Gunther Machu using the quotes of historical travellers to the ancient city.
  • Phnom Penh Post, 25 May 2012: A rare piece that is not about Angkor – the Phnom Penh Municipality purchases a war relic found in the Mekong: a wing of a Cambodian aircraft from the 1960s.
  • New York Times, 01 June 2012: Cambodia is seeking the return of two statues from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  • CNN.com, 07 June 2012: This editorial asks if Cambodian ‘blood antiquities’ should be returned.

Indonesia

  • Jakarta Post, 24 May 2012: The tomb of a South Sulawesi king, Sultan Hasanuddin, is found desecrated.
  • Jakarta Globe, 31 May 2012: A minister for Education and Culture raised awareness of the “pitiful” state of some of the country’s museums.

Malaysia

  • Mizzima, 27 April 2012: Italy and Myanmar to cooperate in the preservation of Bagan and Pyu sites. [Link no longer active]
  • New Straits Times, 10 May 2012: A feature on the prehistoric and other archaeological features of Perak. [Link no longer active]
  • Bernama, 04 June 2012: Archaeologists announce that the Sungei Batu site in Kedah may be one of the oldest civilizations in the surrounding region.
  • Borneo Post, 06 June 2012: The Ministry of Information and Culture announces their intention to rewrite the Sejarah Melayu (The Malay Annals or Geneaology of Malay Kings) into modern prose for increased accessibility

Myanmar

  • Myanmar Times, 30 April – 6 May 2012: Three Pyu sites will be proposed for inclusion into the World Heritage List by the Ministry of Information and Culture.
  • The Straits Times (via Jakarta Globe), 24 May 2012: A feature on historian Thant Myint U and the Rangoon Heritage Trust.
  • Myanmar Times, 04-10 June 2012: A recent conference on conservation strategy stressed the need for a conservation plan for the colonial-era buildings of Yangon.

Philippines

  • AFP, via Channel NewsAsia, 30 April 2012: As many as 50 of Philippines’ indigenous languages may become extinct in the next 20 years.
  • Philippine Information Agency, 02 May 2012: The World Heritage Committee issues a set of guidelines for the management of the Ifugao Rice Terraces.
  • The Philippne Star, 08 May 2012: A proposal to declare the Ille Cave in Palawan a heritage park. (See also here).
  • Philippine Information Agency, 28 May 2012: Archaeologists arrive in Butuan to resume excavations of a Balangay boat.
  • Inquirer, 29 May 2012: A speculation of whether World War II artefacts were unearthed during a public works project and illegally sold.
  • Minda News, 30 May 2012: Excavations of the 4th Balangay boat begins in Butuan.
  • Philippine Information Agency, 31 May 2012: The Ifugao Archaeological Project Field School opens. (You can read their ongoing exploits on the Field School blog here.)
  • Philippine Information Agency, 04 June 2012: National Museum Archaeologists working to excavate another Balangay Boat in Butuan have reported that they are 1/3 of the way complete.

Singapore

  • via the NSC Archaeology Unit, 09 May 2012: For those who missed it, Prof. John Miksic’s talk on Guerilla Archaeology in Singapore is now online here.

Sri Lanka

  • Daily News, 10 May 2012: Sri Lanka authorities report a steep rise in the theft and looting of sites.

Taiwan

Thailand

Vietnam

  • Viet Nam News, 07 May 2012: An update on the deteriorating Champa structures in Quang Nam Province. [Link no longer active]
  • Saigon Giai Phong, 09 May 2012: The Ho Citadel receives the title of World Cultural Heritage Site.
  • Vietnam Net Bridge, 13 May 2012: A feature on a priest at Ho Chi Minh City and his collection of lamps and books.
  • Vietnam News, 15 May 2012: A feature on the problems of improper restoration and conservation efforts in Vietnam. [Link no longer active]
  • Vietnam Net Bridge, 17 May 2012: A set of 14th century Buddhist woodblocks have been recognised as Unesco World Heritage.
  • Vietnam Net Bridge, 19 May 2012: An exhibition on Vietnam’s Maritime Cultural Heritage opens in Hanoi. [Link no longer active]
  • Viet Nam News, 22 May 2012: Archaeologist discover the remains of a water buffalo at the Nam Giao altar site. [Link no longer active]
  • Viet Nam News, 30 May 2012: Pre-1945 documents pertaining to the World Heritage Ho Citadel in Thanh Hoa Province are on display at the province library. [Link no longer active]
  • Viet Nam News, 30 May 2012: The┬áTa Vu Pavilion in the historic city of Hue will be restored later this year with the help of German conservationists. [Link no longer active]
  • Vietnam Net Bridge, 03 June 2012: A feature on the centuries old practice of ancestor worship, the Festival of the Hung Kings. [Link no longer active]
  • Viet Nam News, 05 June 2012: Archaeologist raise awareness for the need to better preserve the Nam Giao Altar site against landslides, especially in the upcoming rainy season. [Link no longer active]

Philippine National Museum to excavate two more balanghai boats

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The Philippine National Museum announced that they will excavate two more balanghai (balangay) boats in Butuan City. 3 out of the original 9 found were first excavated in 1986 and the oldest dates to the 4th century.

Butuuan Boat at the National Museum of the Philippines

Butuuan Boat at the National Museum of the Philippines

National Museum to dig 2 more balanghai boats in Butuan
MindaNews, 25 February 2012

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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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Wednesday Rojak #59

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This week, we step into an ancient boat (at least, a reconstruction of one), mull over small brains and tools, and figure out a contested temple’s role in politics. This and more in today’s edition of rojak!
stone tool finds
photo credit: andy_carter

    • Anton Diaz takes us inside the Balangay boat, which is due to set sail this weekend in a historic journey to retrace the ancient maritime routes through the Philippines. (Read more about it tomorrow!)
    • Why should we be surprised that the small-brained hobbits used tools? Eric Drexler shows us examples of tool use in animals with much smaller brains in Homo floresiensis, Crows, and the Baldwin Effect

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In this series of occasional rojaks (published on Wednesdays) I feature other sites in the blogosphere that are related to archaeology in Southeast Asia. Got a recommendation for the next Wednesday rojak? Email me!