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Unearthing Southeast Asia's Past

Selected Papers from the 12th International Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists

Marijke J. Klokke and Veronique Degroot

Publication Year: 2013

The papers in Unearthing Southeast Asia's Past deal with the development of complex societies in Southeast Asia from the Neolithic until the later historic period. The authors present data from recent excavations as well as new analyses of previous finds, with a focus on cultural exchange and interactions with the natural environment. The volume contains 20 papers presented at the 12th International Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists (EurASEAA). Held in Leiden in 2008, the conference was jointly organized by the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) and Leiden University.

Published by: NUS Press Pte Ltd


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

List of Tables

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pp. vii-8

List of Figures

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pp. viii-xiii

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pp. xiv-17

The last 45 years have seen a rapid increase in archaeological activities in Southeast Asia. Ongoing research has led to a number of fundamental changes in the conceptualization of Southeast Asia’s past. This includes the development of complex societies, the organization of local and international trade networks, the spread and migration of ethnic groups, and the way in which foreign cultural concepts have been integrated into...

Part 1: Southeast Asia’s Neolithic: Common Origins, Cultural Diffusion and Antiquity of Human Occupation

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pp. 1-19

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Chapter 1: The Prehistory of the Daic- or Kra-Dai-Speaking Peoples and the Hypothesis of an Austronesian Connection

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pp. 3-15

The Daic or Kra-Dai (also Kadai, Tai-Kadai or Zhuàng-Dòng) languages cover a substantial region of East and Southeast Asia. Thai, their best-known representative, dominates Thailand, but the family is generally considered to originate in South China, where the languages are most diverse. Despite their importance, little is known about their prehistory, homeland and the causes of their expansion; proposed archaeological correlations deal only with the most recent phases. An earlier literature offered a wide ...

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Chapter 2: Prehistoric Cultural Affinities Between Southeast Asia, East Asia and Northeast India: An Exploration

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pp. 16-25

Northeast India geographically connects South Asia, East Asia and Southeast Asia as it lies in the junction of these three important broad regions of Asia. Considering this unique geographical location, it is not surprising to note that this region must have played an important role as a cultural bridge between the three above-mentioned broad areas of Asian landmass. This region has unique geographical settings of both plain and hilly areas, covering the rivers valleys and plains of the mighty Brahmaputra and Barak ...

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Chapter 3: A Limestone Outcrop as a Landmark of Prehistoric Settlement in the Manatuto Region (East Timor)

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pp. 26-33

Research in East Timor since the 1970s has underlined the importance of the eastern coastal region of the country for rock art and ancient prehistoric settlement in caves such as at the Lene Hara site in the Tutuala region dating to 30–35,000 years BP. Our recent survey carried out in Central East Timor in the region of Manatuto revealed another type of site — a limestone outcrop called Hatu Wakik (the “Big Stone”) by the villagers, which displays diverse traces of the past: red ochre painting (stencilled hand ...

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Chapter 4: The Cultured Rainforest Project: Preliminary Archaeological Results from the First Two Field Seasons in the Kelabit Highlands, Sarawak, Borneo (2007, 2008)

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pp. 34-52

Past theories of landscape have often separated people from their physical environments. However, new notions of ecology that aim to chart the full set of relations within both the physical and social worlds are now emerging. Such approaches do not privilege the material or the social, ...

Part 2: Mainland Southeast Asia’s Bronze-Iron Age: New Dating, Mortuary Practices, and Material Culture

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pp. 53-71

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Chapter 5: Dating the Bronze Age of Southeast Asia: The Cultural Implications

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pp. 55-63

Dating the Bronze Age of Southeast Asia is important if we are to understand mechanisms for the transfer of knowledge, and the impact of metallurgy on society. However, an agreed chronological framework remains elusive. This paper will consider two Bronze Age sites in Northeast Thailand where there have been recent attempts to identify when copper-base metallurgy was adopted. The first is ...

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Chapter 6: Ceramic Technology in Ban Chiang Cultural Tradition Sites, Northeastern Thailand

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pp. 64-75

This paper presents a comparative petrographic study of ceramic samples from fourteen sites. These potsherd samples are in the collection of Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre (SAC), Bangkok, Thailand, and were collected by surveys of archaeological sites during the last 25 years. ...

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Chapter 7: Unique Copper-Base Artefacts from Upper Burma:Coffin Ornaments?

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pp. 76-83

Since 2001, the French Archaeological Mission in Myanmar led by J.-P. Pautreau has been working on burial sites from late prehistory in Upper Burma. Within this framework, we observed some copper-base artefacts the villagers brought during the archaeological excavations. They are thin metal sheets cut into geometric or anthropomorphic shapes. According to many witnesses, they were discovered in burials, ...

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Chapter 8: Infant Jar Burials in Upper Burma

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pp. 84-90

This paper deals with infant jar burials in the Samon River valley. Over recent years the Myanmar-French archaeological project has excavated such graves in three sites: Ywa Htin (YH), Myo Hla (MH) and Nyaung Gon (NGO), and their presence is known in Ohh Min (unexcavated) (Fig. 8.1). In Ywa Htin, 12 jar burials were found, in ...

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Chapter 9: Recently Discovered Infant Jar Burials from Wat Pho Sri Nai, Ban Chiang, Northeastern Thailand

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pp. 91-106

As a result of a recent excavation at Wat Pho Sri Nai, Ban Chiang, Udon Thani Province, northeastern Thailand in 2003, nine infant jar burials were found, from a total of 109 unearthed burials. Some infants were found with grave goods such as a small vessel, stone and bronze ornaments buried in their jars, comparatively dated to the Early through Late Period of the Ban Chiang cultural tradition. The age of death ...

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Chapter 10: The Importance of Iron: Its Development and Complexity in the Southeast Asian Iron Age

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pp. 107-121

This article is part of a study investigating the origins of Dvaravati, the earliest known state-like society in what is today Thailand. In the framework of that study, West-Central Thailand should be a region for intensive investigation because it is there that, according to the available archaeological evidence, Dvaravati had its centre (Higham 2002; Indrawooth 1999; Saraya 1995). There is also evidence of concentrated...

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Chapter 11: Cultural Diversity in West-Central Thailand: Recent Excavations in Ratburi and Kanchanaburi

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pp. 122-138

This article is part of a study investigating the origins of Dvāravatī, the earliest known state-like society in what is today Thailand. In the framework of that study, West-Central Thailand should be a region for intensive investigation because it is there that, according to the available archaeological evidence, Dvāravatī had its centre (Higham 2002; Indrawooth 1999; Saraya 1995). There is also evidence of concentrated occupation in that area during the Metal Age (Fig. 11.1). The research focuses on the socio-...

Part 3: Southeast Asia Between China and the Middle East:Evidence of Long-Distance Exchange Relations

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pp. 139-157

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Chapter 12: The Glass Vessels from Guangxi and the Maritime Silk Road in the Han Period (206 BCE−220 CE)

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pp. 141-154

The starting point of this paper is a group of glass vessels excavated during the last 50 years in tombs of the Han period (206 BCE–220 CE) in Guangxi province in southern China. They were found mainly in the area of Hepu near the coast and in the area of Guixian (recently renamed Guigang) farther inland When the first five of these glass vessels were excavated from Eastern Han tombs in the Guixian area ...

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Chapter 13: Overview of Han Artefacts in Southeast Asia with Special Reference to the Recently Excavated Material from Khao Sam Kaeo in Southern Thailand

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pp. 155-169

This paper presents a preliminary study of Han material, consisting of metallic artefacts (bronze mirrors, seals, arrow head, axe) and ceramics, found outside China and North Vietnam, specifically at the site of Khao Sam Kaeo, located in the district of Chumphon in the Upper Thai-Malay Peninsula. This site, dated to the very early fourth to first centuries BC to the early centuries AD, has yielded several Chinese Han ceramics and some bronze artefacts during recent excavations from 2005 to 2008, ...

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Chapter 14: Foreign Trade, Local Taste: A Consumption-Based Study of Trade Ceramics in Late Proto-Historic Island Southeast Asia

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pp. 170-185

The movement of high-fired glazed ceramics is one of the striking features of early South China Sea trade activity as evidenced in the archaeological record from the end of the 1st millennium CE onwards. Specifically, since there is no tradition of high-fired and glazing techniques in most of island Southeast Asia, all glazed stoneware and porcelain found in protohistoric and early modern contexts were brought in: first from China, then Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, and later even Japan and Korea....

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Chapter 15: Ongoing Archaeological Research at Si Pamutung in the Padang Lawas Area (North Sumatra)

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pp. 186-197

The first archaeological research on ancient historical settlements in North Sumatra (Fig. 15.1) dates back to the beginning of the 1970s with the excavations conducted in Kota Cina, a site on the northeast coast between Medan and Belawan dated to the end of the 11th century until the first half of the 14th century Some ten years later, the National Archaeological Research Center of Indonesia conducted the first test-pits on the opposite coast, in Barus (Ambary 1979: 12–3; Nurhakim 1989). It is at the same ...

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Chapter 16: Pagan, A Hinterland Port-City in Medieval Burma:A New Geographic Approach

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pp. 198-212

According to historians, the strength of the empire of Pagan (1044–287) was mainly based on a powerful army where the elephantry was playing the main role. However the bulk of the army was made of an infantry of farmers/servicemen who were fighting for the king in exchange for the right to till the hereditary dry and wet lands they were occupying. The economy of the empire was based on rice cultivation and the production of other food and commercial crops such as pulses, millet (pyaung), sesamum, betel nut and ...

Part 4: Early Indianized Polities:Natural Environment and Material Culture

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pp. 213-231

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Chapter 17: The Distribution of Sema Stones Throughout the Khorat Plateau During the Dvāravatī Period

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pp. 215-233

This paper analyses the distribution of Dvāravatī period1 sema stones from evidence obtained during survey work carried out throughout Northeast Thailand and Laos.2 In total, 110 sites and over 1,200 sema stones have been recorded, representing the most comprehensive survey of these artefacts published to date.3 By analysing and plotting the distribution of sema and their sites, certain patterns and characteristics emerge. It becomes clear that their distribution...

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Chapter 18: Archaeological Excavations at Kheedkhin, A Dvāravatī City in Central Thailand

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pp. 234-245

This paper presents the primary results of excavations carried out in 2007 and 2008 at Kheedkhin, an ancient city situated in the Province of Sra Buri, Central Thailand. Archaeological evidence shows that the city was probably occupied since the prehistoric period (from about 2,500 BP). However, human activities reached their peak during the Dvāravatī period (7th to 9th centuries AD). Many artefacts from this period were discovered on the site, including carinated pots, spouted potsherds, the image ...

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Chapter 19: Votive Tablets from Batujaya, Karawang, West Java: A Comparative Study

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pp. 246-256

The increasing demand for exotic items such as cloves, cinnamon, and sandalwood during the 1st century CE encouraged Indian merchants to raise the volume of trade with Southeast Asia. Besides, Indian merchants were also in search of gold (Cœdès 1968: 20; Sumadio 1984: 11). Not only did Indian gold mines produce insufficient amounts of gold,1 but various movements of populations in Central Asia mean that Indian merchants had also lost contact with their gold suppliers in Siberia. This situation was ...

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Chapter 20: The Sources of the Khmer Empire

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pp. 257-274

The archaeological research program of the Phnom Kulen sites was established in 2008 with support from the London, UK-based Archaeology and Development, a charitable company. From 2008, a three-year program has been planned according to the funds available. This archaeological research program has aimed at underscoring the different stages of human occupation on the Phnom Kulen massif, the seat of a potential capital associated with a holy site close to the Angkorian capitals. The program has also ...

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About the Authors

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pp. 275-278

Agustjanto Indrajaya is an archaeologist at the National Research and Development Centre of Archaeology, Jakarta, Indonesia. His research focuses on the protohistoric period in Southeast Asia, Aung Aung Kyaw is assistant director for Mandalay at the Department of Archeology, National Museum Graeme Barker is Disney Professor of Archaeology and Director of McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, UK. His special interest is “human landscapes”, the ...


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pp. 279-296

E-ISBN-13: 9789971696795
Print-ISBN-13: 9789971696412

Page Count: 380
Illustrations: 24 tables, 190 images
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: New