Lung Leng: window to prehistoric time

No Comments

3 September 2006 (Viet Nam Net Bridge) – A larger feature on the Lung Leng archaeological site in the central highlands of Vietnam, with a larger range of photographs of the artefacts found there.

Viet Nam Net Bridge, 3 September 2006

Lung Leng: window to prehistoric time

Located on the left bank of the Po Co River, in Sa Binh Commune, Sa Thay District, Kon Tum Province, Lung Leng used to be a small gold mine. It was excavated in 1999 and 2001 on an area of 11,500 square meters and is one of Vietnam’s biggest-ever archaeological excavations.

In the second excavation archeologists found 20 relics with 14,552 stone objects, 224 pottery objects and 37 metal objects. 500 objects were sorted out into various collections of pottery, ornaments, Gong (cong chieng), alcohol jars, and ethnic costumes to be displayed in the HCM City Historical Museum. Many tools showing the indications of the Son Vi culture from the Paleolithic age were found in the Central Highlands for the first time.

Exhibition displays Central Highlands ancient artifacts

No Comments

27 August 2006 (Viet Nam Net Bridge)

Exhibition displays Central Highlands ancient artifacts

The Vietnam Museum of History in Ho Chi Minh City, in coordination with the Kon Tum General Museum, opened an exhibition titled “Lung Leng – The Mystery of the Prehistoric Central Highlands” on August 26…

A collection of working tools from the paleolithic and neolithic eras, pottery and jewelry, trunk tombs, and many valuable photos and scientific documents on the Lung Leng site are also being displayed at the showroom, which will be open until November.

Shipwreck exhibition in Vietnam

1 Comment

24 August 2006 (Viet Nam News) – An ongoing exhibition featuring shipwreck finds off the waters of Vietnam in the Can Tho Museum.

Viet Nam News, 24 August 2006

Exhibition of shipwreck relics begins in Can Tho Museum

An exhibition featuring 400 ancient relics salvaged from five shipwrecks off the Viet Nam coast opened at the Can Tho Museum on Tuesday.

Most of them are porcelain and pottery made in China, Thailand, and Viet Nam between the 15th and 18th centuries and are part of more than 500,000 items found aboard ancient vessels which had sunk off the Cham Island (Quang Nam Province), Dam Island (Kien Giang Province), Cau Island (Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province), Binh Thuan and Ca Mau provinces.

Perak Man is Back in Town

1 Comment

Guest blogger LIZ PRICE from cavesofmalaysia kindly gives us her review of the Perak Man exhibition now on at the Muzium Negara in Kuala Lumpur.

Perak Man Exhibition at Muzium Negara. Pix by Liz Price.

Perak Man is Back in Town

Malaysia’s oldest inhabitant, Perak Man is back in KL. There is a special exhibition dedicated to him at Muzium Negara as part of the “Festival Kuala Lumpur 2006″. Perak Man is an 11,000 year old human skeleton which was found in Gua Gunung Runtuh in Lenggong, Perak in May 1990. It is the only complete late Paleolithic skeleton to have been found and is an important piece of Malaysia’s prehistory.

The month long exhibition is designed to be informative in an entertaining way and it certainly works. As you enter the building which is constructed to represent the mouth of the Gua Gunung Runtuh, you are greeted by an animated talking skeleton.

Walking around takes you through a dark passage past a series of exhibits and tableaux depicting scenes from 10,000 years ago. The first one shows Perak Man on his death bed, surrounded by friends or relatives. Research shows he died from a severe tooth infection. At first I was a bit amused to see the skeletons move, and some had flashing red eyes. It’s great for the kids though.

Perak Man Exhibition at Muzium Negara. Pix by Liz Price.

Perak Man suffered from a rare congenital deformity but living amongst a close knit community meant he had people to care for him when he could no longer hunt or look after himself. Although he was only in his 40’s when he died, that was probably a good age for that era.

Perak Man has been dated at 10-11,000 years old. However evidence of human activity in the Lenggong Valley has been revealed dating back more than 100,000 years. This area could well have been the capital of Malaysia in those days.

The next scene shows the burial rites. It is suggested that Perak Man was an important member of his tribe as his burial was performed ceremonially. He was buried in a fetal position, with legs folded up to the chest, the right hand bent up towards the shoulder and the left hand on the abdomen. The body was placed in a 1 metre deep shallow grave running east to west, and perpendicular to the cave entrance.

Perak Man Exhibition at Muzium Negara. Pix by Liz Price.

For the researchers from Universiti Sains Malaysia, led by Prof. Dato Zuraina Majid, it was a dream come true that the Paleolithic burial was done so meticulously and was so well preserved. The skeleton was almost complete, except for some missing bones such as toes, ribs and parts of the face. Offerings of food such as meat and riverine shells were with the body, as well as 10 different types of tools. The tools could have been Perak Man’s own collection. As a final touch, 2878 shells were placed on and around the body.

There is a slide show in Bahasa Malaysia giving a brief outline of the discovery and showing the types of food eaten in those days. Perak Man and his relatives lived by subsistence activities, which means they were hunter gatherers. They hunted wild animals like wild boar, deer, mousedeer, leopard, monkeys, iguanas and tortoise. To supplement the meat diet they gathered plants and riverine shells for food and medicine. They used stone tools for their daily activities. Pebble tools were used for heavy duty work such as chopping trees, splitting bones and snipping the tips off shells. Flake tools were used to cut and scrape meat, and to sharpen wood and bone to make new tools. There is a display of stone tools and models of how they were used.

Further along is a selection of push button displays, but unfortunately the buttons were not working. The next section is devoted to research. There was analysis on the faunal remains, which gives some information on the animals eaten, the hunting skills, as well as the climate and environment. The bones and teeth were also studied. Perak Man went to Japan from 7 September to 24 November 1996. A display case houses a replica of Perak Man’s skeleton, the original is housed at the Lenggong Museum.

As you turn the corner you are invited to insert a card into a slot. Nothing happened then there was a rumbling sound and suddenly a motorbike driven by 2 modern skeletons drives towards you, with a background scene of modern KL. I’ve never seen so many mechanical talking skeletons outside of a fairground!

Perak Man Exhibition at the Muzium Negara. Pix by Liz Price

The last section houses half a dozen computers on which you can answer 20 questions relating to Perak man. The computers, as well all the film clips are only in Bahasa Malaysia, so the exhibition seems to be designed more for locals than for foreigners. Finally there is a feature on a new book “Perak Man and Other Prehistoric Skeletons of Malaysia”, edited by Zuraina Majid. The book is available for sale.

This exhibition is great for anyone interested in Malaysia’s prehistory and is guaranteed to grab the attention of kids with the animated skeletons and detailed tableaux. It is due to finish on 31st July but almost certainly will be extended until at least August 16th.

pictures and text by Liz Price
The exhibition is housed in Muzium Negara annexe.
Opening hours daily 9 am – 6 pm.
Admission is free
Car park is RM2

Related Books:
Prehistory of the Indo-Malaysian Archipelago by P. Bellwood
Southeast Asia: From Prehistory to History by P. S. Bellwood and I. Glover (Eds)

Bentara Budaya hosts keris lovers

No Comments

19 June 2006 (Jakarta Post) – I had not known that the Keris has been declared a world heritage item.

Bentara Budaya hosts keris lovers

More than 500 krises, or kerises as they are locally known, are on display at the Bentara Budaya Jakarta until June 23.

The 10-day exhibition showcases traditional daggers up to 500 years old from a number of private collectors across the country. It also features the work of modern kris makers, or empu, such as Sukamdi, Subandi, Yanto and Yantono.


Related Books
Art of Indonesia Pusaka by J. Miksic

Sculpture of Angkor and Ancient Cambodia

No Comments

Although exhibited nine years ago (1997), the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC has a detailed virtual tour of their Sculpture of Angkor and Ancient Cambodia exhibition. Using VR technology, take a walk through the galleries and click on specific artefacts to get a closer look. You can’t get a really close look, but it’s a good tour to take in the lunchtime.

Related Books:
Apsarases at Angkor Wat, in Indian context by K. M. Srivastava
Khmer Sculpture and the Angkor Civilization by M. Giteau

Ethnic use of Chinese jars

No Comments

13 April 2006 (The Star) – Feature on the “Odyssey: From China to the Ulu” at the Sarawak Museum.

Ethnic use of Chinese jars

The exhibition, “Ceramic Odyssey: From China to the Ulu” features nearly 100 pieces of Chinese ceramics from the museum’s extensive collection in a thematic display based on their uses by various local communities.

A traditional death ritual of the Melanau was placing blue and white Qing plates under the head, shoulders, feet and hands of the deceased.