MMAP 2009 IPPA Conference in Hanoi

Read the abstracts: MMAP Team ABSTRACTS—2009 IPPA Conference, Hanoi
Read the article: MMAP in Hanoi MMAP team presents papers at the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association (IPPA) conference by Elizabeth Hamilton

Some MMAP team members at the IPPAs. From left to right: Sengphone Keophanhya, Phousavanh Vorasing, Sureeratana Bubpha, Joyce White, Bounheuang Bouasisengpaseuth, and Souksamone Sonethongkham.

MMAP team members traveled to Hanoi in late November 2009, to present papers at the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association (IPPA) conference.

The IPPAs are the most important conference meetings for Southeast Asianist archaeologists in the world, with over 500 participants. These meetings occur only once every three to four years: the 2009 conference was an important place to report on MMAP progress from the previous 3 years of field work and training seasons.

Nine MMAP team members presented papers: MMAP co-directors Joyce White and Bounheuang Bouasisengpaseuth, Lao team members Phousavanh (Phou) Vorasing, Souksamone (Pong) Sonethongkham and Sengphone Keophanhya, Thai team members Korakot (Kot) Boonlop and Sureeratana (Joom) Bubpha, Ben Marwick (University of Washington) and Helen Lewis (University College Dublin).

Highlights of the IPPA Presentations

In 2010, MMAP marks its tenth year of archaeological research in Laos, and the presentations by the co-directors provided broad views of the MMAP project.
Joyce White gave an overview of MMAP: its history, what it had accomplished so far, and its future plans. She reported that – as of July 2009 – the MMAP surveys had documented 69 archaeological sites in the area around Luang Prabang and had excavated three sites with dates ranging from the end of the Ice Age to the historic period.
Bounheuang Bouasisengpaseuth aimed his talk at archaeologists seeking to work in Laos, discussing the requirements of obtaining excavation permits and MOUs (Memorandums of Understanding) from the Lao government.

Three Lao team members were first-time presenters of scholarly papers, and they built upon their MMAP training in scholarship and public communication and their knowledge of Lao culture to bring special perspectives to the conference.
Phousavanh (Phou) Vorasing, in a talk that received praise from some senior archaeologists at the conference, reported on the results of his ethno-archaeological investigation of shell remains uncovered in three MMAP excavations. Phou studied the shell species found archaeologically, and conducted interviews in the street markets of Luang Prabang with women who collect and sell snails and other shelled species. By doing this, he was able to get an idea of the relative abundance and collecting season of each species found in the prehistoric sites.
Sengphone Keophanhya, who works at the Palace Museum in Luang Prabang, gave a presentation on MMAP and Lao cultural heritage, concentrating on an evaluation of the MMAP training program for Lao cultural heritage staff that took place in early 2009.
Souksamone (Pong) Sonethongkham utilized his 2009 training in rock type identification and stone tool recording to present findings about variations in stone tool cores found in 3 rock shelter sites excavated by MMAP. Using data from the excavated sites, Joyce White and Pong had discovered that there were real differences among MMAP sites in the kind of stone used for core tools—the first time anyone had ever looked at those kinds of distinctions in Southeast Asian hunter-gatherers.

Other MMAP Papers
Korakot (Kot) Boonlop and Sureeratana (Joom) Bubpha co-authored a paper about MMAP as the first implementation in Southeast Asia of true cross-borders scholarship in the Middle Mekong region.
Helen Lewis discussed scholarly issues having to do with choosing the most promising archaeological sites for excavation, based on various criteria such as the shape of a cave and artifacts found at the surface of the cave.
Ben Marwick of the University of Washington reported results of his geoarchaeological analysis of sediments excavated from Tham Sua, the site which MMAP excavated in July 2009. This analysis revealed imporant information about site formation processes and stratigraphic integrity.
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