erikwdavis

Cambodia Sounding for August 16, 2010

In comment on August 16, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Some stories I’ve been following lately, or that just caught my eye:

Lower Mekong Archaeology Project (LoMAP) gets some more much-deserved attention from Bora Touch, whose original article, “The Mekong Delta Before Angkor: origins, landscapes and emergent complexity,” was retitled in their classically nationalistic style here. Very much worth a read.

The Mirror, a Cambodian Newspaper translation blog online, run by Norbert Klein, has been doing its important work more frequently, and with more precision, sometimes lining of a sort of “We Said/They Said” set of quotes to attempt to set stories straight, among other crucial issues.  Go check them out and subscribe to the feed. Some stories from the Mirror recently:

And just for fun, some local Christian group in California has received its 15 minutes of fame and made lots of self-aggrandizing comments about their work.  Check it out here, in “Christians Fight Evils For Kids In Cambodia.”  Since I just accidentally ran across some particularly awful manuals for missionization of Sino-Khmer in Cambodia, this struck me as just dumb and rude, but perhaps I’m over-reacting.

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  1. That KI-Media story on LOMAP is confusingly written. The title “The Mekong Delta Before Angkor: origins, landscapes and emergent complexity” is actually the title of Miriam Stark’s lecture in Sydney (I think). It seems that Bora Touch wrote the preamble on Temu. The hypothesis that Ba Phnom/Prohear could be the capital of Funan (as written about by Chinese visitors) is gaining traction again, especially after the recent excavations at Prohear. As an aside- if you go to this website you can watch a short video about work at Prohear (and other archaeological sites in Cambodia) as well as downloading a PDF of an ENTIRE BOOK in English with some Khmer text on Prohear (scroll all the way to the bottom):

    http://www.dainst.org/index_126569e8ebba14b54846001c3253dc21_en.html

    I wrote a small bit about the beads for this book as well as helping correct some of the English text for the author Andreas Reinecke.

    Anyway- this is an instance where I think people are looking too much at the written historical texts instead of at the archaeology. Angkor Borei doesn’t fit with in the distance descriptions in the written record but it is a HUGE 300 hectare site surrounded by a wall and a moat. If that wasn’t a capital of something I don’t know what is. Of course we know so little about that time period that Ba Phnom could also have played an important role. It is also possible that the locations of power moved across the landscape fairly regularly. But the size and amount of labor that went into constructing Angkor Borei certainly indicates it was an important place, which shouldn’t be so easily overlooked because it does not match the written records.

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