Bronze moulds found in Yen Bai Province

Stone moulds used for metal working were discovered in northern Vietnam.

Bronze moulds from Yen Bai Province. source: Viet Nam Net 20160628
Bronze moulds from Yen Bai Province. source: Viet Nam Net 20160628

Dong Son-era bronze casting moulds found in Yen Bai
Viet Nam Net, 28 June 2016

Axe- and chisel-shaped moulds made of stone dating back to the Dong Son civilisation (about 2,000 – 3,000 years ago) have been discovered in the northern mountainous province of Yen Bai.

The axe-shaped mould is 8.1cm long, 5.1cm wide and 2cm thick, and weighs 120 grammes. Meanwhile, the chisel-shaped one is 11.2cm long, 5.6cm wide and 3.2cm thick, and weighs 360 grammes.

The two stone moulds are being kept at the provincial museum, according to the museum’s Deputy Director Ly Kim Khoa.

He said in early March this year, a farmer found two stone objects with unusual carvings at an eroded section on the Hong (Red) riverbank in Dong An commune, Yen Bai’s Van Yen district. The farmer sent the objects to the museum for examination.

Full story here.

Unlocking the secrets of the Preah Khan of Kampong Svay

The Preah Khan of Kampong Svay – not to be confused with the temple of the same name in the Angkor Archaeological Park – is a great complex located in Preah Vihear province, with much archaeological potential as the hub for iron production in the Angkorian period.

Preah Khan of Kampong Svay. Source: Cambodia Daily 20160424
Preah Khan of Kampong Svay. Source: Cambodia Daily 20160424

Ancient Secrets
Cambodia Daily, 24 April 2016

But why this once affluent site was left to fade into jungle overgrowth centuries ago still remains a mystery. Prak Sonnara, director of heritage at the Ministry of Culture, calls it “one of the most enigmatic provincial centers of the Khmer Empire.”

It was also gigantic, noted Canadian archaeologist Mitch Hendrickson. “An interesting temple because it has multiple phases and it just tends to grow outward and outward and outward to the fourth enclosure walls which are earth and not stone,” he said.

“You look at the area that that encloses: It’s roughly 22 square kilometers. Just to put that in perspective, Angkor Thom is 12 square kilometers,” he said, referring to the walled city in the Angkor Archaeological Park.

The complex of Preah Khan—the largest single-temple compound erected during the Angkorian empire—was built over several centuries, from the late 10th century through the late 12th century, Mr. Hendrickson said. “So [kings] Suryavarman I, Suryavarman II and Jayavarman VII all have a footprint here. And kings in between seemed to have had some sort of modifications here and there.”

Full story here.

Unearthed bronze workshop suggests centralised production

A new paper in the BEFEO details the discovery of a large bronze workshop found near the ancient palace in Angkor Thom, which suggests a centralised production of the metal sculptures.

Crucible found at workshop site. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160305
Crucible found at workshop site. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160305

Digging for where the gods were constructed
Phnom Penh Post, 05 March 2016

12th Century Bronze Workshop Found in Cambodia
New Historian, 15 March 2016

One of the most famous bronze sculptures found at Angkor is the West Mebon Vishnu. Dating to the 11th century, the piece now at Phnom Penh’s National Museum is merely a fragment – albeit a car-sized one – of the top half of a reclining Vishnu.

Archaeologists estimate the four-armed Hindu deity’s original length at six metres, which makes it comparable to the largest bronzes in the region. Ancient artists would have spent months slaving over it. Yet where Angkorian bronze makers would have spent those months in toil has long puzzled researchers – until now.

The discovery of a sprawling bronze workshop found adjacent to the ancient Royal Palace of Angkor has gone a long way in solving the riddle. The significance of the site was first revealed during a dig in 2012, but the first-ever comprehensive report was published late last month in the 100th edition of the Bulletin de l’École Française d’Extrême-Orient (BEFEO), a journal that has reported the major archaeological finds of Angkor since 1901.

Full stories here and here.

Recent research on Bronze Age Myanmar presented

The recent work of the Mission Archéologique Française au Myanmar on excavations investigating the Bronze Age of the Sagaing Region were presented last month in Yangon.

Dr Pryce presenting on the Bronze Age of the Sagaing region. Source: Myanmar Times 20160225
Dr Pryce presenting on the Bronze Age of the Sagaing region. Source: Myanmar Times 20160225

Bronze Age site excavated in Sagaing Region
Myanmar Times, 25 February 2016

Last week, on February 17, Pryce, director of Mission Archéologique Française au Myanmar (MAFM) who leads the mission, and his team presented their findings at the French Institute in Yangon. Their research, conducted from 2014 to 2016, has provided a unique look into life in the Nyaung’gan Bronze Age.

“Bronze Age settlements in Southeast Asia are very rare. There are maybe four in Thailand and a couple in southern Vietnam. It seems that the settlement sites in Oakaie village are very big,” Pryce said.

Excavations to the south of Oakaie village in Butalin township in Sagaing Region have indentified where Bronze Age people lived and shows that many of them worked in the production of stone adzes, beads and bracelets.

Pryce said the findings should be a source of proud for the people for Myanmar and that they allow for the recovery of valuable information about the ways of life of our ancestors.

Full story here.

A Dong Son drum in East Timor

A hint into the potential archaeology from East Timor – the discovery of a bronze Dong Son drum in Baucau. There have been several such drums found in East Timor now, and similar drums turn up all over Southeast Asia which suggests a rather extensive exchange network of either goods or expertise across the region 2,000 years ago.

Source: Viet Nam Net 20151203
Source: Viet Nam Net 20151203

Vietnam’s ancient Dong Son drum found in Timor Leste
Viet Nam Net, 03 december 2015

A relatively intact bronze drum believed to belong to the Dong Son culture, originating in Vietnam over 2,000 years ago, has recently been discovered in Timor Leste.

The drum, 1.03 metres in diameter, 78 cm in height, and 80kg in weight, was found accidentally at a construction site in Baucau, the second largest city in Timor Leste, in late 2014. However, official information was just released in late November this year after researchers had conducted preliminary assessment.

Archaeologist Nuno Vasco Oliveira from the Timor Lester Government’s General Directorate of Art and Culture said he is certain that the item is a Dong Son bronze drum – an icon of the Dong Son culture (700 B.C. – 100 AD) of the ancient Vietnamese people.

This is not the first time a Dong Son drum has been found in Timor Leste. The ones previously unearthed were badly damaged while the newly found item is in a relatively good condition.

Full story here.

New York Times’ Review of Philippine Gold

The New York Times’ review of the Philippine Gold exhibition at the Asia Society.

Gold image of a female with upraised hands. Source: New York Times, 24 September 2015
Gold image of a female with upraised hands. Source: New York Times, 24 September 2015

Review: ‘Philippine Gold: Treasures of Forgotten Kingdoms
New York Times, 24 September 2015

More than half a millennium before Ferdinand Magellan reached the archipelago now called the Philippines in 1521, a number of related societies thrived there. Little is known about them. They left no enduring architecture, monuments or literature. One thing is certain, however: They were astoundingly skillful goldsmiths.

The star of the show and the biggest piece is a gleaming sash that could be mistaken for a futuristic ammunition belt. Made of myriad gold beads, it’s designed to be worn over one shoulder, across the chest and to the hip where one end threads through a loop and concludes with the setting for a now lost finial. Nearly five feet long and square sectioned (about an inch on a side), it weighs about nine pounds.

Another striking piece, called a kamagi, consists of 12 necklaces strung together into a nearly 15-foot-long chain punctuated by small, colored stones. The individual necklaces are composed of smooth, interlocking beads that combine to form flexible, snakelike lengths of gold.

Full story here.

Philippine gold exhibition opens in New York

An exhibition of gold artefacts from the Philippines opened earlier this month at the Asia Society in New York. Philippine Gold: Treasures of Forgotten Kingdoms will run until 3 January 2016.

Gold vessel in the form of kinnari. Source: Asia Society 20150911
Gold vessel in the form of kinnari. Source: Asia Society 20150911

Phillipines History to Shine at Asia Society Museum
Newsweek, 06 September 2015

Philippine Gold Glitters in the Big Apple
The Filipino Express, 07 September 2015

A Golden Discovery in the Philippines
Asia Society, 11 September 2015

When Filipino worker Berto Morales was digging on a government irrigation project in 1981, he literally struck gold. But what he found that day was worth more than its weight—he had uncovered evidence of a lost civilization.

On Friday, Asia Society New York unveiled its exhibition Philippine Gold: Treasures of Forgotten Kingdoms, displaying more than 100 gold artifacts on loan from the Ayala Museum and the Central Bank of the Philippines in Manila. Most objects trace back to the Kingdom of Butuan — a still scarcely understood civilization centered on the island of Mindanao that rose to prominence in the 10th century before mysteriously declining in the 13th. But it took more than seven centuries for the objects to be found, and once they were, they wouldn’t be seen in the West for another several decades.

Gold has always factored into the history of the Philippines, a country still estimated to have as much as $1 trillion worth of untapped deposits beneath its surface. And despite what little is known about Butuan some aspects of its society clearly revolved around the precious metal.

Full story here, here and here.

Butuan gold pieces to go on display in New York from next month

Ancient gold jewelry from the Ayala Museum collection will be exhibited for the first time in New York at the Asia Society from next month.

Ear ornaments from Butuan, from the Ayala Museum collection. Source: Philippine Inquirer 20150812
Ear ornaments from Butuan, from the Ayala Museum collection. Source: Philippine Inquirer 20150812

NY society to get a glimpse of Philippine pre-colonial gold
Philippine Inquirer, 12 August 2015

When the exhibit of gold artifacts from the Philippines opens at the Asia Society Museum in New York City next month, visitors will be astounded by the quality and intricacy of the pieces. The fact that they date from the 10th to the 13th centuries should be even more cause for amazement.

This is the first time that these pre-colonial gold objects, on loan from the collections of Ayala Museum and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), will be exhibited in the United States.

“Philippine Gold: Treasures of Forgotten Kingdoms” opens Sept. 11 and will run until early January 2016.

Full story here.

Vietnamese jewelery on display in Hue

A range of jewelry from Vietnam’s past is on display at the Hue Museum of Royal Antiquities.

Bronze bracelets from the Dong Son culture. Source: Viet Nam Net 20150510
Bronze bracelets from the Dong Son culture. Source: Viet Nam Net 20150510

Rare ancient jewelry of the Vietnamese in pictures
Viet Nam Net, 10 May 2015

More than 100 jewelry items thousands of years old were on display at the exhibition “Vietnam’s ancient jewelry” in Hue recently.

The exhibits are selected from the old jewelry collections of the Center for Preservation of Hue Relics and the National History Museum. The exhibition introduced a fairly comprehensive overview of the art of jewelry from prehistory to the Nguyen Dynasty (19th century).

From bracelets, gloves, and bronze belts of the Dong Son culture (2,000 to 2,500 years ago) to earrings, stone, agate, and glass beads of Sa Huynh culture were introduced at the exhibition. This is a glove with bronze bells of the Dong Son culture.

Full story here.

Dong Son drum found in Sukhothai province

Article is in Thai, but the picture says it all. A Dong Son drum (at least, a fragment of it) was found in Thailand’s Sukhothai province.

Dong Son Drum fragment from Sukhothai. Source: Post Today 2015044
Dong Son Drum fragment from Sukhothai. Source: Post Today 2015044

สุโขทัยพบกลองโบราณอายุกว่า2,500ปี…. อ่านต่อได้ที่
Post Today, 04 April 2015
Article is in Thai

สุโขทัย-พบกลองโบราณกลางไร่มันบ้านวังหาด นักโบราณคดีตรวจสอบแล้วพบมีอายุกว่า 2,500 ปี เมื่อวันที่4เม.ย.58 ที่บริเวณกลางไร่มันสำปะหลัง หมู่ 2 บ้านวังหาด ต.ตลิ่งชัน อ.บ้านด่านลานหอย จ.สุโขทัย ได้มีการค้นพบวัตถุโบราณลักษณะเป็นแผ่นสำริด……. อ่านต่อได้ที่

Full story here.