Archaeology of Brunei

This small sovereign state has an extremely brief history in comparison to other Southeast Asian countries, but its influence stretched between Borneo and southern Philippines.

Brunei is a small sultanate located on the island of Borneo between the Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah. Brunei’s population is small – around 400,000 people – two-thirds of whom live in the capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan. This page covers the archaeology of Brunei as a whole, and you can find more details about the other countries in their respective pages or explore the Resource Guide for thematic areas. There’s also the Virtual Archaeology page where you can visit Southeast Asian archaeological sites online, learn something from the Online Lecture Library, or find recent academic papers for more up-to-date research.

To cite this page: Tan, Noel Hidalgo (2021, Updated 06 April 2022) Archaeology of Brunei. Southeast Asian Archaeology. Available at: https://www.southeastasianarchaeology.com/brunei-archaeology/

Brunei is not specifically mentioned in many historical records. Chinese histories from the 10th century mention a kingdom named Boni in what is thought to be Borneo; while the Nagarakretagama, a 14th century Javanese text, mentions a locality name Barune in Borneo that was under Majapahit influence. It is thought that the Brunei Sultanate was founded by Muhammad Shah (formerly Awang Alak Betatar) at the end of the 14th century. It is possible that the fall of Malacca to the Portuguese contributed to the rise of Brunei in the 15th and 16th centuries. The Portuguese established trade with the sultanate, and the present capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan was founded by Sultan Bolkiah in 1582 as a military stronghold to secure trade routes.

Brunei’s influence grew over the coastal sultanates of Borneo and the Sulu Sultanate in Mindanao, but ultimatle experienced a period of decline in the 17th and 18th centuries due to infighting and the arrival of the Europeans. Brunei lost territories to the Spaniards, Dutch and British, eventually becoming a British protectorate in 1888. It became a self-governing state in 1959 and fully independent in 1984. Archaeology is overseen by the Brunei Museums Department, which is located near the Kota Batu Archaeological Park and the Brunei Maritime Museum.

Recommended Books

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There aren’t many books relevant to the archaeology and history of Brunei, and the list below is my personal recommendation based on what I have in my library or have read, and are easily available. There are some local-language publications that are not available in the internet, and newer books are higher up on the list. Some of these links are affiliate links and I may receive a commission if you click on them and make a purchase. For other sources of reliable academic information, you should also check out the books page for latest releases and the occassional free book, as well as the journals page for the latest scientific research.

Sale
Historical Dictionary of Brunei Darussalam
Historical Dictionary of Brunei Darussalam
Hardcover Book; Singh, D. S. Ranjit (Author); English (Publication Language); 232 Pages - 11/20/1997 (Publication Date) - Scarecrow Press (Publisher)
−$63.02 $11.98
Sale
Brunei – History, Islam, Society and Contemporary Issues (Routledge Contemporary Southeast Asia Series)
Brunei – History, Islam, Society and Contemporary Issues (Routledge Contemporary Southeast Asia Series)
English (Publication Language); 274 Pages - 01/12/2018 (Publication Date) - Routledge (Publisher)
−$19.92 $35.03
Raja Bongsu of Sulu: A Brunei Hero in His Times
Raja Bongsu of Sulu: A Brunei Hero in His Times
maps; bibliograph; Hardcover Book; Robert Nicholl (Author); English (Publication Language)
$49.99
Historical Dictionary of Brunei Darussalam (Historical Dictionaries of Asia, Oceania, and the Middle East)
Historical Dictionary of Brunei Darussalam (Historical Dictionaries of Asia, Oceania, and the Middle East)
Amazon Kindle Edition; Sidhu, Jatswan S. (Author); English (Publication Language); 513 Pages - 12/20/2016 (Publication Date) - Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (Publisher)
$102.36
European Sources for the History of the Sultanate of Brunei in the Sixteenth Century
European Sources for the History of the Sultanate of Brunei in the Sixteenth Century
index; Nicholl, Robert (ed.) (Author); English (Publication Language); 05/24/1975 (Publication Date) - Muzium Brunei (Publisher)
$102.13
Origins, History and Social Structure in Brunei Darussalam (The Modern Anthropology of Southeast Asia)
Origins, History and Social Structure in Brunei Darussalam (The Modern Anthropology of Southeast Asia)
Amazon Kindle Edition; English (Publication Language); 10/29/2020 (Publication Date) - Routledge (Publisher)
$37.69
A History of Brunei
A History of Brunei
Amazon Kindle Edition; Saunders, Graham (Author); English (Publication Language); 268 Pages - 11/05/2013 (Publication Date) - Routledge (Publisher)
$54.10
Borneo Studies in History, Society and Culture (Asia in Transition Book 4)
Borneo Studies in History, Society and Culture (Asia in Transition Book 4)
Amazon Kindle Edition; English (Publication Language); 992 Pages - 08/12/2016 (Publication Date) - Springer (Publisher)
$8.93
The Life of the Longhouse: An Archaeology of Ethnicity
The Life of the Longhouse: An Archaeology of Ethnicity
Amazon Kindle Edition; Metcalf, Peter (Author); English (Publication Language); 359 Pages - 12/14/2009 (Publication Date) - Cambridge University Press (Publisher)
$37.70
Classification of Archaeological Trade Ceramics From Kota Batu
Classification of Archaeological Trade Ceramics From Kota Batu
Harrisson, Barbara (Author); 01/01/1970 (Publication Date) - Brunei Museum Journal (Publisher)

Last update on 2022-05-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Brunei Archaeology News Archive

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The news reports indexed below usually link to external sites that were active at the time of posting; sometimes websites may be temporarily down or may have reorganised their underlying architecture or have even closed down – in these cases the links may not be available. Most of the news articles archived are in English; this is largely because I do not have a working competency in Bahasa, although when I am made aware of stories in this and other languages I try to index them.

Looking for something specific? You can also use this search box:

These are links to external sites and unless stated, I have no connection with the organisations or entities in these links or control over their content. They are sorted alphabetically, but you should also explore the Resources page which have links sorted by themes. If you have a link to suggest, please get in touch!

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