Digging Towards the Future
August 11, 2008
"A new four-year, $300,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation provides the Penn Museum with a great opportunity to engage globally in one of the most exciting -- and understudied -- archaeological regions of the world," noted Dr. Richard Hodges, the Williams Director of the Penn Museum. "The scope of this project allows us to do what we do best -- groundbreaking field research, and education, in this case, the education of future world archaeologists and scholars."
The new project in Laos and Thailand builds upon four decades of pioneering archaeological research by the Penn Museum in mainland Southeast Asia. The project is a continuation and expansion of the Middle Mekong Archaeology Project (MMAP), led by Penn Museum's Dr. Joyce White [photo, left], with co-director Bounheuang Bouasisengpaseuth, Deputy Director at the Lao National Museum.
The project seeks to shed light on the origins and implications of the technological, economic, and social transformations that happened during the region's active, yet little-studied, middle Holocene period, roughly 6000 to 2000 BCE. During this period, communities transitioned from primarily hunter-gatherer to primarily agricultural lifestyles.
The project team will focus on collecting evidence to help fill in gaps in current understanding of Southeast Asia prehistory. In addition, the project hopes to find evidence of early metallurgy that will help solve the puzzle of where the early bronze in Southeast Asia came from.
The development of a web-accessible archaeological database is a key component of the project, which aims to create greater access to the archaeology of Southeast Asia for the international partners, other scholars, students, and the public alike.
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