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Posts Tagged ‘archaeology’

Archaeology Dissertation on Iron Age Cambodia Available

In comment on May 15, 2013 at 9:28 am

It’s been out there for a while, but I’d be deeply remiss if I failed to draw your attention to Dr. Alison Carter’s (UW-Madison) dissertation. In the spirit of actual intellectual exchange (sometimes called ‘Open Access’), she’s placed her dissertation online for download.  

The dissertation is called “Trade, exchange, and socio-­political development in Iron Age (500 BC -­ AD 500) mainland Southeast Asia: An examination of stone and glass beads from Cambodia and Thailand,” and it’s available here for download in various formats.

Dr. Carter has been doing archaeological research in Cambodia for years, and focuses on Iron Age trade objects – specifically beads. Through the analysis of these beads, she’s able to hypothesize about the geographical origins of the beads (because of the materials out of which they are made). Through understanding the geographical origins, she illuminates early trade networks – both within and beyond the boundaries of mainland Southeast Asia. Her work is deeply important to scholarship on a region, the prehistory of which is difficult to know because of a lack of preserved written texts (excepting inscriptions in stone).

Go! Read!  And when you’re done, check out her great blog.

Beads, Trade, and Power in Early Southeast Asia” – A Public Talk by Dr. Alison Carter

In macalester on March 27, 2013 at 8:27 am

Beads, Trade, and Power in Early Southeast Asia

I was very pleased to be able to help organize and attend Dr. Alison Carter’s public talk at Macalester College, on the topic of “Beads, Trade, and Power in Early Southeast Asia,” yesterday. It was well-attended, and exciting.

If you take the longue durée seriously, and imagine as I do that some things persevere through generations and centuries, and that therefore early history can be very important, then archaeological knowledge is crucial for people like myself, even though my focus is contemporary.  I have many notes for myself.

Dr. Carter’s presentation was hugely engaging, and dealt precisely with some of the themes we are discussing in one of my seminars at the moment, “Ritual and Ecology in Southeast Asia,” which includes the Angkor civilization and its ‘collapse.’ Those themes are complexity, emergence, and collapse, and especially understanding the nature of those processes: is the emergence of complexity dependent on trade network transformations, commodity transformations, local manufacture, the rise of local elite classes, etc., etc.?  What drove early complexity, and what processes underwrote and sustained it?  What was the nature of that complexity?

Dr. Carter will shortly be traveling to the Society of American Archaeology (SAA) conference in Honolulu, where she will be chairing a symposium titled “Technology in Southwest China and Southeast Asia II: Working with Stone, Ceramics, and other materials – tecnological innovation in Southeast Asia, Southwest China, and Beyond,” and presenting a paper on “The production of stone beads in Southeast Asia.”

Also, Dr. Carter has a blog. It’s fantastic, and I have frequently linked to it from here. Most recently, she’s written on the enigmatic jar burials discovered in the Cardamom mountains. Here it is: go, read. http://alisonincambodia.wordpress.com/

 

Sounding on Cambodia, January 25 2012

In sounding on January 25, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Happy New Year, everyone!  The Chinese Year of the Dragon is here, and many of us in Southeast Asia will catch up in April!

Just a few days ago, Cambodian unionists held a small ceremony at Watt Langka in Phnom Penh near the Independence Monument, to remember Free Trade Union Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia president Chea Vichea, who was murdered just outside the temple’s walls on January 22, 2004. A wonderful film has been made about his murder and the aftermath, which drew some international attention to Cambodia’s apparently hopeless judiciary. FTUWKC seems to have eliminated their old website, and replaced it with a new, more frequently updated site, here. Twitter. Facebook.

We’re still experiencing mass faintings at factories in Cambodia. Noise has been made about fixing the situation, but it’s unclear to me what concrete steps are being taken.

One of my favorite Cambodia-related blog posts of the last year has to be Alison in Cambodia’s excellent post on the “Navel of the Village,” focused on Lovea. Lots of excellent photos, and a wonderful opening to the topic. Go look!

The Center for Khmer Studies has announced a new conference, June 9-10, 2012, on the topic “Religious studies in Cambodia: understanding the old and tracing the new.”

Northern Illinois University will be hosting the International Cambodia Studies Conference in September (14-16), 2012, in Rockford, Illinois, on the theme: “Imagining Cambodia.” Deadline for abstracts: March 15.

A new issue of the journal of Contemporary Aesthetics is devoted to “Art and Aesthetics in Southeast Asia.” All content is free, peer-reviewed, and online. Go check it out.

Archaeologists excavate sculpture workshop in Angkor,” says the headline over at the Southeast Asian Archaeology newsblog. Maybe this will help keep the criticisms of contemporary art workshops in tourist centers in contemporary Cambodia down? Nah, probably not. Very cool find, however.

The International Federation for Human Rights has released its regular summary of the Human Rights situation in Cambodia (2010-2011). Here’s the summary:

In 2010-2011, the space for civil society continued to shrink, with increased limitations on the freedoms of opinion, expression and peaceful assembly, in particular through unfair and illegitimate judicial proceedings. Human rights defenders, operating in an increasingly restrictive legal environment, found it extremely difficult and risky to denounce human rights abusers and bad practices, while peaceful demonstrations were prevented or violently dispersed. Also, acts of intimidation continued. In addition to NGO members, many trade union leaders, land rights activists, community leaders and journalists faced fierce retaliation for documenting and denouncing abuses.

Some folks know me as someone with a rather obsessive interest in peasantry and farming. There’s an absolutely excellent, short essay from Henry Saragih, the secretary general of the Indonesian Peasant Union and the general coordinator of the International peasant’s movement Via Campesina, on CNN, about Indonesian Farmers. Most of the general trends apply directly to Cambodia, or indeed peasants everywhere. Since over 80% of contemporary Cambodians have primary work experience in peasant rice production to this day, it’s worth considering. Speaking of farming, is contract farming good for farmers? Could be: according to a new study, noted on the Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog.

Sounding Death for November 17, 2011

In sounding on November 17, 2011 at 9:23 am

Ahh, mid-term season, when all individual research writing shrieks to a halt in the face of grading, grant-writing, recommendation-letters, etc., etc. Perhaps that’s what makes us think of death so frequently in this season, and not merely the traditional association of Autumn with death and renewal. Whatever causes it, the interwebz have been throwing a lot of death-related material out there for us to enjoy.

A new Pyu burial site found in Sri Ksetra, Burma/Myanmar, and consists of “urns collected in a brick structure.” (via Southeast Asian Archaeology Weblog) This urban settlement thrived from 4th-9th centuries CE. The Pyu are one of the major four ethnic groups considered indigenous to the regions, the Khmer, Pyu, Cham, and Mon. One of the many interesting things about the burial site, to me, is the existence of grouped urns, as is still standard practice among the Khmer.

The “Kola” group are an ethnic Burmese group that used to thrive in the Pailin region of Cambodia, especially as gem miners and merchants. Although sometimes described as ‘disappeared,’ it might be better to say that the Kola in Pailin have been supplanted: it’s still possible to find people who describe themselves as Kola, but I have not heard of a
“Kola community.” Regardless, a Kola Stupa in the region has just been restored, and it looks AWESOME.

Buzzfeed had a nice photo essays on the Bolivia’s “Day of the Skulls.” Perhaps a bit focused on the ‘transgressive’ aspects (transgressive especially to the presumed Norteamericano viewer, I think), but still a number of very nice photos.

Or perhaps you’d like to take a peek at a lovely necropolis? (surprisingly high property values!)

Atlas Obscura finally got around to profiling the Choeung Ek Memorial Stupa. Pretty much the sort of detail you’d imagine.

In the Czech Republic, Atlas Obscura also profiled the ossuary of Křtiny, in which the skulls of approximately 1,000 people are (mostly) painted with a black laurel-wreath design.

Some of the links and images in the posts above are taken from the newly-published book, The Empire of Death: A Cultural History of Ossuaries and Charnel Houses, by Paul Koudounaris, which looks grimly beautiful.

A fascinating new mortuary practice in South Korea is catching press; it’s being cast as a new way to mourn, but I wonder if that’s the whole story. And if so, why now? Interesting stuff. The practice? Turning the remains of loved ones into prayer beads.

Sounding Cambodia on August 2, 2011

In sounding on August 2, 2011 at 11:03 am
  • 8-year-old dies after explosion at cremation in Cambodia
  • Alison In Cambodia blogs summer fieldwork
  • Baphuon Reconstruction Completed!
  • Pansukula for Chea Vichea in France
  • Professor Sorpong Peou discovers his father is alive, ater 35 years.
more after the jump…

Sounding on Cambodia for April 28, 2011

In sounding on April 28, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Well, between my visit to the University of Wisconsin, Madison, campus, the screening of Who Killed Chea Vichea? on my campus, and the end of the semester looming, my attempt at disciplined, scheduled, blogging, has already collapsed. Instead of getting upset about that, I’ll just return to the attempt soon. In the meantime, there are big stories in Cambodia that need to be addressed.

  • Dry-Season Warfare at the Cambodian-Thai Border
  • Lao appears to begin construction of potential “Mekong Killer” dam
  • Hun Sen Denies Lung Cancer Rumors
  • “Who Killed Chea Vichea?” screens at Macalester College
  • ‘Bamboo Hypothesis’ gets a bit more complicated

Devata Study at Angkor

In notice on September 3, 2010 at 11:21 am

Kent Davis, who runs the devata.org website and is in a long-running study of the so-called “apsaras” of Angkor Wat, has made it into the news lately, largely as a result of the very cool and interesting work he’s been doing on those same apsaras, which he is calling devatas. He’s received permission from the Cambodia Weekly to reprint the full article on his website, and I encourage you to head over there to read it.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the recent work in his study is the use of computer-aided scans to identify similar/identical faces.

SOUNDING on Cambodia, September 3, 2010

In sounding on September 3, 2010 at 10:20 am

Holy Crap – I have almost never, in my entire museum-going life (and folks, I’m *married* to a curator, so I’ve been to a lot of museums) heard about an exhibit I want to see more than this one: “Life, Death, and Magic: 200 Years of Southeast Asian Art,” at the National Gallery of Australia, in Canberra.  the description of the exhibit is as follows:

For thousands of years, across mainland and island Southeast Asia, the deification of significant ancestors and the veneration of spirits of nature have formed the basis of traditional beliefs. It has also been the impetus for the creation of splendid and extraordinary works of art in fibre, stone, metal, wood and clay—made to protect and give pleasure to the living, to honour the ancestors and to secure safe passage for the human soul between this world and the afterlife.

Life death and magic: 2000 years of Southeast Asian ancestral art provides an evocative overview of the region’s ancestral arts and culture, from prehistoric times to the twenty-first century. Beautifully designed, it is prolifically illustrated with works of art from countries and regions including Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, East Timor, Brunei, Thailand, Cambodia and southern China which are drawn from museums around the world and the National Gallery of Australia’s exceptional collection of Southeast Asian art.

Now, there’s no way I can raise the scratch to go see this exhibit, so I’m counting on my Australian friends to go, take photos if possible, and comment or post them somewhere.  This is astonishing looking work.  Thank Flying Spaghetti Monster they’re publishing a catalog.  Which I’ve already ordered. Massive Hat Tip to Alison of AlisoninCambodia for the notice.

NoelbyNature, the animating force behind the Southeast Asian Archaeology Blog, has some lovely notes and photos from excavations at Angkor Wat.

Hat tip to Igor Prawn for posting the nice graphic of the World’s Tallest Towers, including a space for the entirely hallucinatory and never-to-be built tower bragged about recently by PM Hun Sen.  Phnom Penh Post.

Also, Tuol Sleng, the notorious prison and torture center also called (more appropriately, S-21), rated a mention at Atlas Obscura.

Bayon drainage system discovered | National news | The Phnom Penh Post – Cambodia’s Newspaper of Record

In question on February 15, 2010 at 1:59 pm

I’m looking at the archaeologists out there to explain to me if, and how, these drains affect the debates over hydraulic control and irrigation during the Angkorean Empire(s). To this layperson, it seems like it could be pretty ding-danged important. You Know Who You Are. And also, via.

Archaeologist inspecting drainage system at the Bayon

TEAM of Cambodian and Japanese archaeologists says it has uncovered an ancient man-made drainage system at the site of the Bayon temple at Angkor Thom.

The temple, built in the late 12th and early 13th centuries during the reign of King Jayavarman VII, has been the subject of three digs since 1999, but this is the first time such a drainage system has been discovered, according to the archeologists.

via Bayon drainage system discovered | National news | The Phnom Penh Post – Cambodia’s Newspaper of Record.

Sounding on Anthropology and Archaeology for February 8, 2010

In sounding on February 8, 2010 at 3:14 pm
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