S.T. Lee Annual Lecture in Asian Art and Archaeology 2010

The Lee Annual Lecture in Asian Art and Archaeology given by
Professor Miriam Stark

Archaeologist
University of Hawai’i-Manoa, United States of America

The Mekong Delta Before Angkor: origins, landscapes and emergent complexity

Date: Wednesday, 11th August 2010
Time: 6 – 8pm in the Refectory Room, Level 1, Quadrangle Building, The University of Sydney click here to see the Quadrangle map
RSVP by Monday, 9th August 2010 to Martin King via phone 02  9351 7667
or martin.king at sydney dot edu dot au

The earliest states in mainland Southeast Asia emerged between 500 BCE and 500 CE, a period known as the Axial Age. In the West, this time encompassed Hellenistic Greece, the rise of the Roman Empire, and the birth of Christianity. Viewed from the East, the period included imperial expansion by the Han dynasty, the rise of the earliest Korean and Japanese kingdoms, the spread of Buddhism across the Asian continent, and rise of competing empires during the golden age of South Asia. Southeast Asians also embraced this Axial Age, although few historians or archaeologists have studied the period until recently. During this time Southeast Asians established a South China Sea maritime trade network and built large settlements along the region’s coasts and inland deltas. They adopted writing systems and religious ideology from South Asia, and created Indic-tinged templates for statecraft whose signatures shaped the emergence and operation of Southeast Asia’s classical states like Angkor, Sukothai, and Pagan nearly a thousand years later.

Professor Miriam Stark has worked in collaboration with Cambodia’s Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts since 1996 on the archaeology of the Mekong Delta. This region was politically central during the Axial Age, and work by her Lower Mekong Archaeological Project began with research at the archaeological site of Angkor Borei (Takeo province). Most scholars consider that this 300 ha walled site was a Funan capital that the Chinese annals described during the early to mid-first millennium CE. The region remained prominent in the following pre-Angkorian period, and research described in this lecture examines archaeological research by the Lower Mekong Archaeological Project on landscapes and emergent complexity.

Miriam Stark was awarded a PhD from the University of Arizona in 1993, and has worked in Southeast Asian archaeology since 1987. With extensive field experience in North America (particularly the North American Southwest), she studied tribal potters in the northern Philippines for her doctoral research. She worked with the Thailand Archaeometallurgical project in central Thailand in the early 1990s, and – after accepting a position at the University of Hawai’i-Manoa — began her archaeological studies in Cambodia. Through the Lower Mekong Archaeological Project and in collaboration with Cambodia’s Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, Miriam has worked in the Mekong delta since 1996. The Lower Mekong Archaeological Project blends field research with training, and examines state formation and landscape evolution in the first millennium CE. She has joined the Greater Angkor Project for the 2010-2015 research program.

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