A few interesting things I’ve come across lately:
-I have been reading a Vietnamese archaeology blog called Archaeological Highlights for a few months now. The author appears to be an archaeologist and she travels around to different excavations, posts photos of their work, as well as links to articles. It’s written in Vietnamese (which I don’t know) but Google Translate does an OK job of getting the meaning across. Lately she’s been discussing the discovery of an ancient amaranth grain (possibly several thousand years old) that has actually sprouted! There is some concern that it might be a modern grain that has contaminated the ancient finds, but they are currently working on dating their samples. More is also written about the grain here.
–Eye on East Asia has a fairly regular feature rounding up archaeology stories from East Asia. Add it to your RSS feed!
-The Phnom Kulen project, which I wrote about earlier here, has a new website! In addition to an archaeological project, they also have a development project to benefit people living around the archaeological sites. I am a big fan of this kind of ethical archaeology.
-This WSJ article on Vann Molyvann and his buildings had a link to the Vann Molyvann project, which describes itself as: “a team of Cambodian and American architects and students working in Phnom Penh. We began work on July 1, 2009 and will continue until September 30, 2010 at which point the drawings, models and photographs we generate will be presented at the French Cultural Centre in Phnom Penh. Publication of a monograph is to follow. Any proceeds from the effort will be used to support architectural and arts education in Cambodia.” They are still looking for donations to support their project.
I don’t usually post news-y stories about archaeology in Cambodia because Noel covers all those events so well. (If you’re interested in Southeast Asia and/or archaeology, you should definitely have his site on your RSS feed).
But there have been a few interesting things happening lately that I think could use an extra shout-out:
-The Khmer Archaeological Society is an up-and-coming organization focusing on archaeological projects in Cambodia and work done by Cambodian archaeologists. There is some interesting research up there that you’ll have a hard time finding anywhere else.
-The Cambodian Stone Project is updating from the field now, where researchers are using stone petrography to identify the raw material locations for some of Cambodia’s most famous temples and sculpture.
-Not archaeological, but the relatively recent Phnom Penh Places blog has sporadic and very interesting posts on notable and historic parts of Phnom Penh.
-Following a similar theme is the Southeast Asia Movie Theater project blog, which visits and documents many of the beautiful and dying movie theaters of SEA’s recent past. It’s quite obvious the site’s author cares deeply for these faded gems.
-Totally self-promotional: My last blog post on contemporary Cambodian ceramics didn’t make it into people’s RSS feeds. You can check it out below. Or click here.
Posted in Links
-Some horrifying news out of Angkor Wat: One of the companies responsible for admission to Angkor Wat at night* has apparently drilled holes into Angkor Wat to install electric light bulbs. This is head-smackingly stupid and it’s not clear who OK’d this amazingly short-sighted decision. The Apsara Authority is saying that the holes in the stones were already there (although the original Khmer language article notes that tourists were finding debris on the ground from drilling). There are already holes in many of the blocks at Angkor and other Khmer temples (want to know why? check out this video here), but would those be appropriate for installing electrical lighting? Thousands of dollars of foreign money comes into Angkor park for restoration and conservation and there should be some accountability for how the sites in the park are maintained.
*It is interesting that one of the companies being blamed for this is in charge of collecting admission to the temple at night. Angkor Wat is currently closed at sundown for all but Khmer tourists and only recently has there been talk about the temple being kept open later at night. Hmmm.
-Over at the SEA archaeology blog, Noel mentions that Vietnam is proposing new laws with guidelines on restoration of ancient sites. This is in response to a couple botched restoration jobs at different sites.
-Meanwhile in Thailand some brilliant businessmen are proposing the construction of a Preah Vihear replica. The article notes that:
The construction may cause a conflict between Thailand and Cambodia. The location of the proposed construction of the Preah Vihear temple replica is sensitive and has the potential to create a conflict with Cambodia.
They’re already starting to piss off Cambodian officials. My head starts to hurt when I think about this. Fortunately that is such a ridiculous proposal that it will never happen.
In other more positive news the Heritage Watch website is now back up and can be found at this new address:
Update your bookmarks!
Posted in Archaeology
Two more museum related links that just came up.
-Apparently they are planning to break ground on the Preah Vihear museum very soon. They have less than $200,000 so far for construction. The article states they will be working on it “step-by-step.” Anyone want to take bets on when it will actually be finished?
-The Japanese team at Phum Snay is looking to open a museum as well. This could be good news as it is an important site and having a place to store and display some of the amazing artifacts would be welcome. Hopefully the team will take into account previous research at the site done by other scholars.
Posted in Archaeology
– Villagers near Preah Vihear are being moved (in order to help conserve it apparently, although the village lie at the base of the plateau- not really near the temple). A few days later it was reported that a new museum is being planned at this site. Cambodia is really keen on making Preah Vihear Angkor Wat II, but if they hope to get tourist numbers in the thousands (or even millions) they will have to drastically improve the roads to get to the site. I doubt they will reach ever those tourist numbers with the border closed (and needless to say, tensions between Thailand still looming). Lots of work to be done there.
-A colleague of mine, Shawn Fehrenbach, has been working on his MS thesis examining Angkor Borei ceramics. He’s put a summary of the results and a PDF of the thesis on his (lovely) website.
-A new exhibit is opening at the National Museum in Phnom Penh on Angkor’s Ancestors. It is based largely on the work of the EFEO and Apsara Authority. I’m looking forward to seeing it when I’m back in Cambodia in July and I am sure I’ll write more about it then.
-Speaking of ceramics, the Smithsonian has a new website up on SEA ceramics with photos of the collections, articles, bibliography, and more to come. Check it out!
Posted in Archaeology
Here are some interesting links I’ve come across that I wanted to share.
- Via Details are Sketchy: This is one of the most succinct articles I have ever read detailing all that is wrong with Cambodia today written by Barbara Crossette. I really encourage everyone to read it. True, there is much to fall in love with here, and indeed I did after my first trip in 2005. However as a friend told me after a few more months that Honeymoon feeling starts to fade. The country has improved and continues to expand economically but as Crossette says “the nightmare is not over.” I still wonder if anything will happen to change, realistically I fear that if these problems are not addressed things will only get worse.
- A website I just found out about from a friend that publishes info on Cambodia