Archaeology of Christianity in Southeast Asia

    European colonialism and missionaries brought Christianity to Southeast Asia

    Christianity, as it is practiced today, can be traced to the arrival of Europeans from the 16th century, starting with the Portuguese in Sri Lanka and Malacca. However, various records indicate the presence of Christian missionaries and communities in Asia since the 2nd century. Their presence was felt mainly in India and China, though a few early communities could be found in Southeast Asia – including a mention of a Christian community in Sumatra in the 12th century. Because of its association with European colonisation, archaeological traces of Christianity are much more recent, and often manifest in the form of religious buildings and colonial architecture (many of which are still in use). Today, Christianity is the main religion in the Philippines and East Timor, but the religion flourishes in all parts of the region. Some of the more significant sites associated with Christianity include the Unesco-listed Baroque Churches of the Philippines, and the architecture found in the historic cities of Melaka and George Town.

    To cite this page: Tan, Noel Hidalgo (Updated 30 November 2021) Archaeology of Christianity in Southeast Asia. Southeast Asian Archaeology. Available at:

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