A feature on the finds from the Koh Sdech shipwreck, discovered off the coast of Cambodia and the tale of how the finds were looted and seized, as well as the connection between the ceramics found in the shipwreck with similar pieces from the Cardamom Mountains.
Finds fro the Koh Sdech shipwreck. Source: Cambodia Daily 20160723
Sometime in the 15th century, a ship caught fire off the coast of Koh Kong province and sank about 20 meters to the ocean floor.
Over 500 years later, a group of Vietnamese fishermen cast their nets about 20 km off the coast of Koh Sdech island and hauled in an unlikely catch.
They might have snagged one of thousands of pieces of Thai ceramics that sat alongside Chinese porcelain, ivory and untold other artifacts, evidence of a bustling maritime trade that stretched across Southeast Asia and beyond.
Surfacing and cataloging the artifacts began in 2006 and involved money from a casino magnate, underwater dives by an alleged Russian fraudster, and expertise from Cambodian and American archaeologists.
My friend Nancy Beavan organised an exhibition at the National Museum in Phnom Penh on her work investigating the jar burials of the Cardamom Mountains. It’s on for a few months, so be sure to check it out!
Burial jars and coffins exhibited at the National Museum in Phnom Penh
The remote and mysterious Cardamom Mountains are giving up some of their secrets – burial jars and wooden coffins – to the public as part of an exhibition that begins today at the National Museum.
After a decade researching the mysteries of the Cardamom Mountain people, Nancy Beavan, a senior research fellow at New Zealand’s University of Otago and an expert in radiocarbon dating, will be exhibiting her findings as part of the “Living in the Shadow of Angkor” project at the museum.
The project seeks to broaden the breadth of understanding of Cambodian history outside of the Angkor period.
The exhibit will be the first time the public can see how the immense project began. In a separate room in the museum, one can see the recreation of the hoard of burial jars and a dozen coffins hidden on a ledge in remote jungles of Cambodia – which have stayed secret for centuries.
The Royal Society of New Zealand has a feature and photo gallery on Dr Nancy Beavan’s (disclosure, friend of mine) work at the Cardamom Mountains, where she investigated a series of jar burials contemporaneous with Angkor.
Chhueng Kan and Tep Sokha working on the jar burial ledge, Phnom Khnang Peurng. Source: The Royal Society of New Zealand 20150911
In the Shadow of Angkor…
The Royal Society of New Zealand, 11 September 2015
The Highland Jar Burial site of Phnom Khnang Peung is the most extensive example of the unique Highland burial ritual that is being studied by Dr. Nancy Beavan from the Department of Anatomy and Structural Biology, University of Otago, School of Medical Sciences with a 2013 Marsden Fund award. The 40+ Ayutthaya-sourced Mae Nam Noi burial jars – possibly obtained via previously unsuspected trade connections with nautical traders in the Gulf of Thailand – held a total of up to 152 individuals, representing the largest corpus of skeletal remains of any of the 10 known Jar Burial sites that have been discovered in the eastern ranges of the Cardamom Mountains of Cambodia.
My colleague Nancy Beavan as been working for some time now at the Cardamom Mountains in western Cambodia, investigating a series of jar burial sites associated with a little-known culture who were living contemporaneously with Angkor. This news video from VOA Khmer is an overview of the project and the latest finds.
A couple of recent features on Nancy Beavan’s work in the Cardamom Mountains in Western Cambodia (disclosure: Nancy is a personal friend of mine). Stashes of burial jars found in at least 10 sites there reveal an unknown culture who lived in the highlands and had interactions with a declining Angkorian state. [Edit: Alison pointed out that the second article is from two years ago. My apologies, although I haven’t indexed it before so am leaving it here. Thanks Alison!]
Burial jars in the Cardamom Mountains. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20150112