Publication: New Light on Old Pottery – 13 Nov 2010

Publication: New Light on Old Pottery – 13 Nov 2010

2009-NLOP

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Southeast Asian Ceramics: New Light on Old Pottery accompanies the exhibition of the same name, held at the National University of Singapore Museum. In this present volume, notable archaeologist and scholar John N Miksic reconstructs a vivid image of the development of Southeast Asia’s unique ceramic technology. Along with three contributing authors — Pamela M Watkins, Dawn F Rooney and Michael Flecker — he summarises the fruits of the research of the last 40 years, beginning with the founding of the Southeast Asian Ceramic Society in Singapore in 1969. The result is a comprehensive and insightful overview of the technology, aesthetics and organisation, both economic and political, of seemingly diverse territories in pre-colonial Southeast Asia.

Since the founding of the Southeast Asian Ceramic Society (SEACS) of Singapore in 1969, archaeological research on ceramics in Southeast Asia has developed significantly. Southeast Asian Ceramics: New Light on Old Pottery and the accompanying exhibition endeavour to chart that evolution. It illustrates the fundamental role played by the SEACS and its members in stimulating this progress.



Chapter One traces the founding of the SEACS and the pivotal role played by its founder, William Willetts, in establishing the study of Southeast Asian ceramics as a legitimate field of research in Singapore. The contributions of his student Roxanna M Brown, who sadly passed away in 2008, to the study of Southeast Asian ceramics are examined in Chapter Two. The publication in 1977 (2nd edition 1988) of her book, The Ceramics of South-East Asia: Their Dating and Identification was deemed by many the first textbook of its kind. Southeast Asian Ceramics: New Light on Old Pottery hopes to compliment Roxanna’s book by considering other developments in the field since — the role of maritime archaeology in advancing the state of knowledge of Southeast Asian ceramics (Chapter Three), and the contributions made by land-based archaeologists through the discovery of kilns and production sites (Chapter Four). Finally, Chapter Five covers the study of ancient ceramic trade, both within the region and with its neighbours, of which the most important centre for ceramic production is China. The book is complemented by a catalogue comprising 176 full-colour pages, devoted to artefacts that were presented at the aforementioned exhibition, making this book an invaluable source of reference for scholars and ceramic connoisseurs as well as members of the public.



Southeast Asian Ceramics: New Light on Old Pottery is essential reading not only for those with an interest in the economic history of the region, but for all who seek a better understanding of the brilliant but too often underestimated material culture of our forefathers.

 
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