Hot Pots, Museum Raids, and the Race to Uncover Asia’s Archaeological Past

Federal agents descend upon the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana during a raid in January 2008

Federal agents descend upon the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana during a raid in January 2008

It’s not every day that an archaeologist helps serve a Federal search warrant, never mind one that was part of a 500-officer dawn raid at multiple museums in California and Chicago. The search was for smuggled Thai archaeological artifacts, brought into the US since 2003 and added to museum collections under suspicious circumstances.

To get a first-person, behind-the-scenes account of the 2008 raids and see the impact of site destruction on archaeological evidence in Southeast Asia, come to this special address at the Association for Asian Studies annual conference:

“Hot Pots, Museum Raids, and the Race to Uncover Asia’s Archaeological Past”

WHEN: Sat., March 29, 5-7PM
WHERE: Grand Ballroom, Salon H, Marriott Hotel-Downtown, 1201 Market St, Philadelphia, PA

(FREE and open to the public)

In my talk I’ll cover Penn Museum’s most recent research on Thai and Lao archaeology, as well as updates on the Federal investigation into smuggling of Southeast Asian antiquities. What happens to knowledge about ancient societies when sites like Ban Chiang are looted to supply antiquities markets? What is it like for the archaeologist to be an expert witness in a big legal case?

My talk will be followed by a conversation with Dr. Thongchai Winichakul, President of the AAS, on the themes I’ve explored, approached from the perspective of a non-archaeologist. Audience Q&A and a reception to follow will allow more opportunity to continue the discussion informally.

Fake Pottery

Fake Pottery

Sponsored by the Henry Luce Foundation and the American Council of Learned Societies 

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