14 – 20 September 2009

(This post is literally the first of my lab notes concerning glass and beads anywhere in the world.  It’s probably best to keep that in mind when you read it).

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.  I did enjoy some articles looking at the idea from the Indian perspective and wondering if it was really migration or if it was more of an exchange of ideas.  Personally, I think an exchange of ideas is more likely…

I do find it frustrating, having the connections I do with Indonesia, that Southeast Asia is all lumped together as a single cultural entity. For instance, articles talking about glass beads clearly being made locally instead of being brought from India makes sense to a degree for mainland SE Asia, but different resources were available in different places and with Indonesia, the Srivijaya kingdom was, according to many sources, heavily based in trade. Who’s to say that while the beads themselves may be Indonesian in make, the technology didn’t come from India?  Most of the evidence is from mainland SE Asia, which is fine, but also makes me wonder how much of it can really be extrapolated to Indonesia.  Honestly, I wonder at the degree to which we can even lump mainland Southeast Asia together as a single entity in any respect, given the diversity of groups living there.

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About Heather Christie

Heather is an archaeologist, photographer, and writer whose research focuses on beads and bead trade, particularly in a maritime sense. She's currently working working on a PhD in Digital Design (focusing on heritage visualisation) at the Glasgow School of Art.
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