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Buddhist Archaeology and the ISEAS Archaeological Unit

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1 Buddhist Archaeology and the ISEAS Archaeological Unit
Buddhism came to Southeast Asia almost 2,000 years ago. Chinese pilgrims such as Faxian in the fifth century and Yijing in the late 7th century travelled between China and the holy places of Buddhism in northeast India by sea, through Southeast Asia. They travelled on merchant ships, and stayed in major ports such as Srivijaya and Malayu, where they saw large monasteries. Historical records on early Buddhism in Southeast Asia are very scarce. Archaeological materials for the study of early Southeast Asian Buddhism are much more common, and include huge quantities of Buddhist sculpture and architecture from Burma (Myanmar), Java, and Sumatra. Singapore in the 14th century was also a Buddhist kingdom, and was an important seaport for a century before the foundation of Melaka.

2 Study of the spread of early Buddhism along maritime trade routes.
Borobudur Nalanda Xi’an The ISEAS Archaeological Unit will form part of the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre. Research Projects: Early Buddhist sites in Myanmar, Indonesia, and Singapore. Study of the spread of early Buddhism along maritime trade routes. The Archaeological Laboratory at NUS . Displays on Buddhist archaeology at ISEAS. A Modern Buddhist Monument: a book on the Buddhist Lodge.

3 The Malay Annals and the Founding of Singapore
The two widows and the miracle on Bukit Seguntang Mahameru, Palembang. The young prince Sang Nila Utama becomes ruler with the title Sri Tri Buana. Sri Tri Buana goes to Temasek and founds a city which he names Singapura.

4 1825 map of Singapore, depicting the Malay Wall, probably a 14th-century fortification




8 Mahāyānika Golayantritasri Gautama Sripada


10 Southeast Asia in 430 CE Kedah inscription, 5th century

11 Yijing A.D. Travelled over 30 countries in 20 years collecting over 500,000 Buddhist verses. Translated 61 scriptures.

12 Xi’an: (Chang-an) Big Wild Goose; Small Wild Goose
Qing Long Si: master and disciple bid farewell

13 Nalanda copper-plate, mid-9th century:
There was a king of Yavabhumi who was the ornament of the Sailendra dynasty. He had a son, who possessed prudence, prowess, and good conduct... He was the foremost warrior in battle-fields and his fame was equal to that earned by Yudhishthira, Parasara, Bhisena, and Arjuna. Tara was the queen consort of that king, the illustrious Balaputra. With the mind attracted by the manifold excellences of Nalanda and through devotion to the son of Suddhodana (i.e. the Buddha) and having realised that riches are fickle like the waves of a mountain stream, he … built there a monastery which was the abode of the assembly of monks of various good qualities and was white with the series of stuccoed and lofty dwellings.

14 Palembang

15 Bukit Seguntang: ancient Buddhist centre

16 Padmapani from Nalanda, 9th century Avalokitesvara Palembang

17 Statues From Palembang
Maitreya (shown in ACM), Dipankara


19 Solok Sipin makara AD1064

20 Makara from St. Paul’s Hill, Melaka

21 2005 survey, Sponsored by Orchard Marine Singapore

22 Muara Jambi Candi Gudang Garam Candi Kembar Batu Candi Tinggi

23 Candi Gumpung




27 Intan Shipwreck, ca 930


29 Kota Cina

30 Kota Cina, North Sumatra

31 Coexistence of Buddhists, Vaisnavite, Saivite worshippers: Kota Cina, north Sumatra, 12th century


33 Angkor, 12th century

34 Bayon ship relief, possibly late 12th century: Chinese Junk?

35 The “Chinese House” relief

36 Chinese Ceramic Finds at Angkor

37 The Travels of Ser Marco Polo







44 Dieng Plateau




48 Trowulan

49 Shamatara Tribhuwanatunggadewi

50 Prajnaparamita Manjusri

51 Amoghapasha Bhairawa





56 Alopyi Hpaya


58 Temple 147 Thakyamuni Hpaya

59 GOALS Online repository of digital images of murals of 11th- through 13th-century Bagan temples for both educators and researchers Web-based 3-D Virtual Ancient Bagan for educational and research purposes

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