Recent Research in the Southeast Sumatran Region

Dublin Core


Recent Research in the Southeast Sumatran Region


Session 4
The archaeological study of ships’ cargo, hull, and maritime infrastructure


Since 2010, a new threat to the maritime heritage of Southeast Asia has arisen in the form of looting of the bed of the Musi River in Palembang, site of the capital of the maritime kingdom of Sriwijaya in the ninth century. Port archaeology in Southeast Asia is a gravely underdeveloped field. This river has been a major artery of commerce for 2,000 years. The local adaptation to the area’s swampy, flood-prone environment has been to live on stilt houses over water, on ships, and on rafts. This pattern of settlement presents special problems for archaeologists. It is likely that a major proportion of the area’s archaeological heritage lies on the riverbed. Recent items on the antiquities market include a wide range of items, including Chinese porcelain of the ninth and subsequent centuries, local pottery, and a wide range of metal items including statuary, coins, and jewelry. This source of archaeological data has never been systematically explored, and unless something is done urgently, it will be lost forever. This paper explores the nature of the problem, demonstrates the importance of the subject for maritime archaeology, and proposes a potential methodology for exploring the area.


John N. Miksic


November 2011



John N. Miksic, “Recent Research in the Southeast Sumatran Region,” The MUA Collection, accessed January 29, 2023,

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