The History of Archaeology in the Asia-Pacific Region: 21st IPPA Congress in Hue

Several members of the CBAP team have presented aspects of their current research at the 21st Congress of the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association (IPPA), held in Hue, Vietnam, from 23 to 28 September 2018. ARC Laureate Fellow Matthew Spriggs chaired two sessions on ‘The History of Archaeology in the Asia-Pacific Region: Learning from our Past’, starting the ball rolling with an overview of the CBAP Project‘s publications and results to date, and prospects for the final 18 months.

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Matthew Spriggs presenting at IPPA 2018. Photo: Tristen Jones.

This was followed by Emilie Dotte-Sarout’s paper on French traveller-naturalist Alfred Marche’s pioneering archaeological excavations in the Philippines and Marianas. Hilary Howes then introduced Margarete Schurig, one of the first women to complete a doctorate in ethnography in the German-speaking lands, and discussed the intellectual context of her doctoral dissertation Die Südseetöpferei (Pacific Pottery, 1930), which remained the foremost text on the subject for at least the next thirty years. Tristen Jones rounded off the first session with a series of fascinating insights into the impact of non-Australian colleagues and mentors on ‘father of Australian archaeology’ John Mulvaney’s life and work.

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Tristen Jones discusses John Mulvaney’s connections to academics at the University of Melbourne. Photo: Hilary Howes.

In the second session, William A. Southworth re-assessed Austrian ethnologist and archaeologist Robert von Heine-Geldern’s contributions to Southeast Asian prehistory through the prism of his crucial, but often misunderstood, German-language publications. Gerrit Alink offered a descriptive analysis of Palaeolithic stone tools from Sulawesi collected by the Indonesian-Dutch Expedition in 1970, while Nien-Ju Tsai and Narut Lokulprakit spoke compellingly on the ideological and political motivations influencing cultural heritage interpretation in Taiwan and Thailand respectively. What a diverse and enlightening range of presentations!

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Meridian (Noon) Gate, Hue Citadel. Photo: Hilary Howes.

Conference participants also had the opportunity to participate in a guided tour of the Hue Citadel, part of the Complex of Hue Monuments, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Within the Citadel is the Imperial City, and within that again is the Forbidden Purple City, formerly reserved for the exclusive use of the Imperial Family. The architecture is breathtaking throughout, but my personal favourite was the pleasure garden in the residence of the Imperial Queen Mother, which included a quiet pavilion surrounded by serene lotus ponds. A welcome respite from the heat, as well as the hustle and bustle of Hue’s busy streets! The history of archaeology certainly does lead its students to some remarkable places …

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Pleasure garden in the residence of the Imperial Queen Mother, Hue Citadel. Photo: Hilary Howes.

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