Asian Perspectives, vol. 40, no. 1 (2001): Myanma Pyay

SPECIAL ISSUE: The Archaeology of Myanma Pyay (Burma)
Edited by Miriam T. Stark and Michael A. Aung-Thwin

Recent Developments in the Archaeology of Myanma Pyay (Burma): An Introduction
Michael A. Aung-Thwin and Miriam T. Stark


Origins and Development of the Field of Prehistory in Burma
Michael A. Aung-Thwin

The primary aim of this paper is to summarize the circumstances under which the study of prehistory evolved in Burma, while the secondary goal is to help identify some of the issues and problems and research topics for future students of Burma’s prehistory.
Keywords: Anyathian, Hoabinhian, Pleistocene Terraces, Morris, Movius, Upper Burma, Padah-Lin Caves, Taungthaman, Beikthano Myo, Chhibber, Neotling, Yenangyaung, Chauk, Kyaukpadaung, Irrawaddy, Chindwin, Pagan, Nyaung-U, Magwe, Minbu, Pakokku, Ciochon, Savage, New Gwe Hill, Ba Maw, Bellwood, de Terra, de Teihard, Chelleo-Acheulean Theobald, Brown, copper, bronze, Halin, Nyaung-gan, Budalin Township, Monywa

Nyaung-gan: A Preliminary Note on a Bronze Age Cemetery Near Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
Elizabeth Moore and Pauk Pauk

The article reports on 1998 preliminary excavations at a cemetery south of Nyaung-gan village, near Mandalay, in central Myanmar (Burma). The location of the site on the edge of a volcanic crater is described, as well as nearby copper deposits. Information is given about the excavation and the three main types of artefacts recovered: ceramics, stone rings and bronzes. Survey of the surrounding area includes possible smelting and stone ring production sites. Much remains to be learned about the Nyaung-gan cemetery but it is already clear that these finds contribute greatly to the knowledge of Myanmar prehistory.
Keywords: Burma, Myanmar, prehistory, Pyu, stone rings, Southest Asia

The Origins of Bagan: New Dates and Old Inhabitants
Bob Hudson, Nyein Lwin, and “Tanpawady” Win Maung

Bagan is a major early urban center in Myanmar/Burma. Hundreds of Buddhist monuments were built there between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries AD. The dating of activities earlier than this has until recently not been supported by scientific evidence. Part of Otein Taung, a “pottery hill” in the middle of the urban complex, has now been radiocarbon dated to between 650 and 830 AD. A new survey of the spread of “Pyu” fingermarked bricks has located these cultural markers, widespread in Myanmar in the first millennium AD, in more than 50 buildings at Bagan. This spatial and dating evidence suggests that before Bagan became a historically recorded economic and military power, and a key ritual center, it was a substantial settlement contemporaneous with some of Myanmar’s distinctive first millennium “Pyu” sites.
Keywords: Myanmar, Burma, Bagan, Pagan, archaeology, excavation, earthenware, pottery, Pyu, Tircul, urbanism, radiocarbon, settlement, spatial, GIS

Dating the City Wall, Fortification and the Palace Site at Pagan
Peter Grave and Mike Barbetti

In this paper we address the strengths and limitations of radiocarbon dating as applied to samples taken in and around the walled city centre of Pagan, in Burma. The last thousand years in mainland Southeast Asia remains a difficult period to date absolutely because of two critical issues. The first is the use of wood from long-lived species such as teak in archaeological contexts. The archaeologist dating such material must be aware of the significance of a date range which relates to the period when a tree was alive rather than to when the wood was actually used in the construction or reconstruction. The second issue stems from the character of the radiocarbon calibration curve for this time period. Several plateaux exist in the curve which seriously broaden the calendar age ranges that derive from uncalibrated high-precision dates. We outline these effects using two areas sampled for radiocarbon dating at Pagan: the fortifications near the Tharaba Gate and a site within the old city walls, Inventory No. 1590, known as the Palace.
Keywords: Pagan, Bagan, Burma, Myanmar, radiocarbon, fire, fortifications, absolute chronology, calibration

Early Burmese Urbanization: Research and Conservation
John N. Miksic

Urbanization in Southeast Asia is sometimes assumed to have been synonymous with the development of orthogenetic structures such as religious centres (e.g. Wheatley 1983) under external influence. An alternative hypothesis proposes that social structures stimulated by local cultural and environmental conditions and regional historical events emerged in several parts of Southeast Asia, marked by evolution rather than stasis. One of the major stumbling blocks in the path toward a new theory is a lack of appropriate archaeological data with which to test this hypothesis. A thorough research program is therefore needed to refine and implement a methodology for gathering data on a wide range of characteristics from several sites. Myanmar affords one of the best laboratories for such a program development. Restoration projects have seriously affected both structures and distributions of artifacts such as pottery before they were thoroughly studied. Previous research in Thailand and Java can provide models on which planners of a project to investigate ancient urbanization in Myanmar can draw. Sustainable heritage tourism can contribute positively to both archaeological research and public education.
Keywords: urbanization, cultural resource management, archaeological survey, Pagan, Majapahit

The Martaban Trade: An Examination of the Literature from the Seventh through Eighteenth Centuries
Pamela Gutman

This paper, originally delivered at the Symposium on Trade Pottery in East and Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, September 1978, discusses epigraphic and literary evidence for a pottery tradition in Lower Burma dating from the early centuries of the present era. The tradition is mentioned first in Buddhist texts, and is alluded to in Chinese and Indian histories. A Sanskrit inscription of around the eighth century A.D. referring to Kalasapura, the city of jars, coincides with finds at sites in Lower Burma where contact with both eastern India and Dvaravati is evidenced in unglazed wares. By the eleventh century Mon people around the Gulf of Martaban, particularly between Twante and Moulmein, influenced the pottery of Pagan, as can be seen in illustrations in frescoes and glazed terracotta plaques. Ports around this coastline were important links in the China-India porcelain trade and later in the export of Sawankhalok and other Siamese wares, as well as glazed wares from sites around the Gulf. Arab, Chinese and European sources trace the history of this trade from the fourteenth century until its decline in the eighteenth.
Keywords: Martaban, Pyu, Mon, terracotta, glazed wares, Lower Burma, Pagan


The Past, Present, and Future of Prehistoric Archaeology in Burma
Ian G. Glover

Archaeology in Myanmar, Past, Present, and Futures
C.F.W. Higham


Society, Economics, and Politics in pre-Angkor Cambodia: The 7th–8th Centuries, Michael Vickery
Reviewed by P. Bion Griffin

Myth and History in the Historiography of Early Burma: Paradigms, Primary Sources, and Prejudices, Michael Aung-Thwin
Reviewed by Patrick A. Pranke

Studies in Southeast Asian Art: Essays in Honor of Stanley J. O’Connor, Nora A. Taylor
Reviewed by Robert L. Brown

History, Culture, and Region in Southeast Asian Perspectives, O.W. Wolters
Reviewed by Laura Junker