Epigraphy

Epigraphy is the study of inscriptions, usually on durable material like stone and metal, as well as the study of ancient writing in general.

There are many inscriptions in Southeast Asia. Some of the more famous ones include the Vo Canh stele, a 2nd century CE inscription found in Vietnam’s Khanh Hoa province; the Cherok Tok Kun relic site in Penang; the Terengganu Stone and the Ramkhamhaeng inscription which respectively represent the earliest known instances of Jawi and Thai script.  corpus of khmer inscriptions. In the region, the Khmer inscriptions are the best-known and documented.

A variety of writing systems can be found in the epigraphy of Southeast Asia, e.g. Cham, Baybayin and Jawi. Unsurprisingly, many Indian scripts like Pallava-Grantha, Devanagari and Brahmi are also common. As contacts from India expanded into Southeast Asia during the Common Era, so did Sanksrit inscriptions as Indic religions were adopted by local rulers.

Ancient writing is not limited to stone inscriptions; they can also be found in palm-leaf manuscrupts and on artifacts such as the Calatagan pot and the Nalanda Copperplate inscription. Some inscriptions themselves have been recognised in the Unesco Memory of the World programme.

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There’s also the Virtual Archaeology page where you can visit Southeast Asian archaeological sites online, or learn something from the Online Lecture Library, or find recent academic papers for more up-to-date research.

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News about Epigraphy in Southeast Asia

News reports and information related to Southeast Asian epigraphy and the study of writing and ancient inscriptions. 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, although when I am made aware of stories in this and other languages I try to index them.

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