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  • Southeast Asian Archaeology 1998. Proceedings of the 7th International Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists. Berlin, 31 August-4 September 1998
  • John N. Miksic
Southeast Asian Archaeology 1998. Proceedings of the 7th International Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists. Berlin, 31 August-4 September 1998. Wibke Lobo and Stefanie Reimann, eds. Hull: Centre for South-East Asian Studies, University of Hull, 2002. viii + 288 pp., many B&W photos, maps, tables and site plans, bibliography. ISBN 0-903122-10-3.

This volume, like its antecedents in the series, contains something for everyone: prehistory, historical studies, site reports, and discussions of analytical techniques. Arrangement is by author's last name rather than topic, so one must scan the table of contents to locate chapters relevant to one's specialty. On the other hand, most articles are of a sufficient degree of interest and breadth of coverage that nonspecialists in a [End Page 167] particular topic will be able to read them with profit, too.

By dint of the alphabetical arrangement, the first chapter discusses objects recovered in my excavations in Singapore. Brigitte Borell's study "Money in 14th century Singapore" analyzes 143 Chinese coins of the Tang and Song Dynasties and one Sri Lankan coin of the thirteenth century excavated at two sites. As she notes (p. 4), "It is remarkable how close the frequency distribution of the almost one hundred identified coins found in Singapore corresponds" to the pattern of production levels. Borell does an excellent job summarizing a wide amount of data from other published sources, and puts the Singapore finds into a regional context. Much remains to be learned from metallurgical analysis, which, as Borell points out, might indicate whether some of the coins found in Singapore might be Javanese copies rather than Chinese-made. Borell concludes (p. 13) that Chinese coins in Singapore "acquired as payment in external trade, were not just valued as a source of metal but were valued as money." We do not in fact have documentary evidence that Chinese coins were used as an international medium of exchange at this time, but the archaeological data from this and other sites certainly support the inference that the coins were used internally as money at certain sites of Southeast Asia.

Indonesian historical archaeology is treated in several chapters. Jan Christies' "Weaving and dyeing in early Java and Bali" exploits epigraphic materials to illuminate the sophistication and complexity of the textile industry in the tenth to twelfth centuries. Since it is improbable that we will ever glean any significant information on ancient Southeast Asian textile designs from archaeology, it will be necessary to rely chiefly on documentary sources for such data. Textiles of course have long been one of the major forms of material culture in Southeast Asia, so that we would be unable to form an accurate conception of the region's ancient technology, economy, or society if we did not incorporate as much information about this subject into our studies as possible. Christie acquired useful additional data on the subject by looking at cloth patterns carved on Javanese statues.

In another chapter on historic Java, M. J. Klokke analyzes decorative motifs found on ancient Javanese temples to clarify cultural relationships and chronology during the period from the mid-ninth to the fourteenth century. Focusing on Loro Jonggrang, Gunung Gangsir, and Kesiman Tengah, she first dispels the mistaken assertion that Loro Jonggrang bore few similarities with east Javanese art; she documents numerous relationships between the two (p. 87). One of the more vexing problems in Indonesian historical archaeology is the dating of Gunung Gangsir (GG). Klokke (pp. 91-92) notes Jacques Dumarçay's thought-provoking idea that the central Javanese aspects of GG are archaisms, not signs of an early date. This theory thus contradicts the assumption that architectural style in Java evolved unilinearly. Klokke however also sees a very close relationship between GG and Singasari. In the end, Klokke infers that the Singasari antefix motif was copied from GG. Singasari is known to date from the late thirteenth century, so GG must be earlier rather than later than Singasari, contradicting Dumarçay's conclusion. No...