Sidney Sussex Fellow Janice Stargardt is playing a major part in researching and supporting archaeology in Myanmar [Burma]

As part of a significant European Research Council-funded project (Synergy Grant 609823 ASIA), since 2015 Sidney Sussex Fellow Janice Stargardt has directed three seasons of the joint Cambridge-Department of Archaeology Excavation Project at the ancient Pyu city of Sri Ksetra.

The team have recovered evidence of a long record of site development from the last centuries BCE to the end of the first millennium CE. Sri Ksetra is at present the oldest city in Southeast Asia and the largest until the emergence of the imperial cities, Angkor and Pagan, about 700 years later. The new research has succeeded in tracing cultural and economic changes from the late Iron Age practice of grouped cremation burials under houses, to the early historic adoption of Buddhism, literacy and the construction of some of the first Buddhist monuments in Southeast Asia.

The project has created many new maps including, for the first time, the ancient irrigation systems imbedded in the urban landscape and forming an essential part of the urbanizing process. Both in its low density, extended urban space and in the fusion achieved between water capture and management and the urbanizing processes, Sri Ksetra was a prototype for many later Southeast Asian cities. It has now been inscribed on the list of World Heritage sites of outstanding universal value.

There are many outputs from the project. It is, for example, the first such to combine on-site training in scientific excavation and recording techniques and follow-up research for members of staff of the Field School of Archaeology of Myanmar. In addition, a series of more conventional research reports and academic articles have been published or are in press. Sidney Sussex has also hosted a series of follow-up events, including a Pyu workshop in April, with delegates from Cambridge, London and Myanmar.  These included Mr Win Kyaing, Principal of the Field School of Archaeology, who was also a Visiting Scholar to College. The workshop proceedings are now being prepared for publication

You can find out more by visiting the University of Cambridge’s Division of Archaeology website.

Research reports and publications:

J. Stargardt, et al. 2015, ‘Early urban archaeology in Southeast Asia: the first evidence for a Pyu habitation site at Sri Ksetra, Myanmar’, Antiquity: Project Gallery article (issue 348)

J. Stargardt, 2016, ‘From the Iron Age to early cities at Sri Ksetra and Beikthano, Myanmar’, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 47(3), 341–365

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