I post a lot about archaeology on here, and hopefully that’s taught somebody out there something, since rambling to myself would be a bit sad. But I recognize there might be a few of you who don’t really know what I do all day, so I thought I would take today’s Day of Archaeology to tell you.
There’s a potential issue with a lot of the data: certain scholars talk a lot about mutisalah beads, but seem to define them in different ways. One say mutisalah are opaque brownish-red OR opaque orange beads (two different colors) that are used among modern ethnic communities in Timor and Flores in Indonesia (leading to questions of whether we can really use modern classifications of an artifact for objects that are 1000-2000 years old). They can be wound or drawn (two different styles of manufacture).
I’ve been awarded a St. Lawrence University Summer Research Fellowship this summer to look at glass beads in Southeast Asia, and that has started now in full force.
One of the largest questions we’ve been having (and will probably continue to have) is how we can document this data and represent it in a database that allows for easy manipulation, but doesn’t eliminate important material.
Going back to this idea of inland versus coastal settlements, is it possible that Indianization could have only been occurring on the coasts, not really penetrating the interior, if Indianization occurred at all? Also, what if Indianization occurred with luxury trade rather than more utilitarian trade? So Indian objects may be present at sites in Southeast Asia, but only in elite contexts?
Indonesia seems to have an interesting dichotomy (or at least division) between coastal and inland settlements. Both types of settlements seem to have similar levels of power, but they exercise them in different ways (according to some scholars).
One question about Asian trade in the first millennium that keeps bugging me is this: What is going on with China? Why are we concentrating so much on Indian influence in Southeast Asia and not really looking at China?
I’m reading an article talking about seals (the pressing kind, not the animal) and I was wondering where seals fall in the category of beads. Actually, I guess the main question is what, precisely, is a bead, as these seals are made from semi-precious stones and were perforated all the way through, as if they had been strung onto something.
I’ve been reading about Indianization (the idea that most cultural innovation in Indonesia (and Southeast Asia) in the first millennium AD came from India, either through colonists or migrants), which I find problematic on a number of levels.