Miksic, John N and Goh Geok Yian (eds.), Ancient Harbours in Southeast Asia : The Archaeology of Early Harbours and Evidence of Inter-Regional Trade, Thailand: SEAMEO SPAFA, 2013
The archaeology of harbours is critical to understanding patterns of ancient trade and inter-regional interaction. Systematic excavations of sites of harbours, ports and docks are, however, extremely rare in Southeast Asia. Even though ancient trade has always been a favourite topic of scholars working on ancient Southeast Asia, the working areas of ports/harbours have attracted very little attention. This is the first publication to focus on the archaeology of Southeast Asian harbours.
This book compiles some of the first research by Southeast Asian archaeologists on this significant but neglected subject. It contains much new information on the roles of Southeast Asians in ancient commerce and industry, and on the nature of cultural interaction which has taken place in these sites for over 2,000 years.
The bulk of contributions in this volume concern Indonesia, as befits the immense geographical expanse of a nation comprising thousands of islands. The book brings together studies on Sumatra, Java, Bali, Sulawesi, and the eastern part of the Indonesian archipelago. Another chapter deals with protohistoric Malaysia. Chapters on the Philippines range from the thousand-year-old trading port of Butuan to Spanish colonial-era shipyards. A study of late prehistoric sites of inter-regional seaborne trade in peninsular Thailand indicates that these may be the oldest harbours in the region to link the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea. The publication should shed more light and encourage further research on this neglected field.