- 13th International Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists, Selected Papers, Vol. 1: Crossing Borders; Vol. 2: Connecting Empires and States ed. by Mai Lin Tjoa-Bonatz, Andreas Reinecke & Dominik Bonatz
These two volumes contain 54 papers (25 in the first volume, and 29 in the second) selected from the 168 papers presented at the 13th International Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists (EurASEAA) held in Berlin in 2010. The editors of the volumes classified 89 papers as archaeological reports; 36 papers dealing with history, philology and ethnography, and another 43 papers with art and architectural history. Each volume is divided into parts with different themes.
Volume 1, Crossing Borders, has four parts: Part 1 contains papers that discuss variability and spread of lithic assemblages; Part 2 focuses on anthropological remains and funerary practices; Part 3 deals with the spread of Neolithic cultures and field agriculture; Part 4 discusses issues on interpretations of the Metal Age remains.
Volume 2, Connecting Empires and States, is also divided into 4 parts: Part 1 deals with new insights into the archaeology and history of the Indonesian Archipelago; Part 2 has articles on multi-directional flows of Buddhist art in Southeast Asia; Part 3 contains articles on the art and architecture of the Khmers, centre and periphery; Part 4 has articles on traditions and actions.
The contributions in Volume 1 focus on cultural materials with relevant interpretations. However, it is apparent that these interpretations are not in line with current views. For example, the case of Hoabinhian definition: the authors never discuss the fact that researchers in certain countries such as Malaysia no longer use the term Hoabinhian, preferring to use the term epi-Paleolithic. Malaysian researchers do not agree that the origin of the so-called stone artefacts, the so-called Hoabinhian stone tools, was Hoabinh or Bacson, but hold the view that, rather, they were developed in situ. According to their opinion, the stone tools were created to fulfil certain functions out of local genius or local need. Thus, there is no such thing as Hoabinhian in north-western India or anywhere else in the world as expressed in Chapter 2 of the volume. The reviewer agrees, however, that the stone tools help us to understand the importance of plants in the subsistence of the hunter-gatherers in Southeast Asia (in Chapter 3). It deals with the function of stone stools. Chapter 4 is the only article included in the publication that deals with Malaysia; it discusses shell artefacts from Bintulu and Niah Cave in Sarawak. The excavations must have been done by Malaysian, not foreign, archaeologists as advocated in the late 1970s by the Malaysian government. The same policy was adopted by the Indonesian government, but they have not been as strict as the [End Page 109] Malaysian government in implementing the policy. That is why the articles in Part 1 of Volume 2 are written by both Indonesian and foreign archaeologists.
On the other hand, papers on art history and architecture and on theories about the peopling of Southeast Asia can be written without having to conduct excavation and fieldwork (Volume 1, Parts I, 3 and 4; Volume 2, Parts 2, 3 and 4). It is the opinion of this reviewer that if all Southeast Asian countries adopted the same policy—not allowing foreigners to do excavations in their countries—more archaeologists from Southeast Asia would be sponsored and invited to attend the conference in order to ensure that subjects discussed in such a conference arranged by the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists reflect accurate and up-to-date accounts of the archaeological findings in Southeast Asia.
Scientific analyses of glass beads, cloth and metal objects, teeth and bone help researchers to establish the origin of those products and their cultural...