SOAS University of London

Centre of South East Asian Studies

At the origins of Srivijaya: The emergence of state and cities in southeast Sumatra

IMG - 20170314 - Pierre-Yves Manguin
Dr Pierre-Yves Manguin (Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient)

Date: 14 March 2017Time: 5:15 PM

Finishes: 14 March 2017Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B111

Type of Event: Seminar


Archaeological research in southeast Sumatra during the past two decades has brought to light a considerable amount of new data regarding the state formation process that resulted in the late 7th century CE foundation of the Srivijaya polity. Contrary to the process illustrated in early studies, but confirming Oliver Wolters’ “favoured coast” hypothesis, it is now apparent that proto-historic settlements, some of them possibly proto-urban, had developed in both the Jambi and Musi river basins centuries before the birth of Srivijaya. Sizeable settlement sites have been identified downstream from Palembang, not far from the present day coastline, some of which appear to have been referred to in Chinese sources in the 5th and 6th centuries and to have adopted Indic religions and language. Based on the new data, it is possible now to offer a renewed view of the birth of Srivijaya. The image that emerges from these various considerations is that of a complex, long-term, multi-factor process of state formation, during which Indianisation, urbanisation, religion and trade – both inland and overseas – played critical roles.

Speaker Biography

Pierre-Yves Manguin is emeritus professor at the Ecole française d'Extrême-Orient (EFEO, French School of Asian Studies). His research focuses on history and archaeology of coastal states and trade networks of Southeast Asia. He has lead archaeological work in Indonesia and Vietnam and published on themes related to maritime history and archaeology of Southeast Asia, the Indian Ocean and South China Sea. He has written on the archaeology of Funan (Vietnam), of Srivijaya (South Sumatra), of Tarumanagara (West Java). Based on the results of his and other scholars’ work on proto-historic and early historic archaeological sites of coastal Southeast Asia, he has also written on the changing paradigms in India-Southeast Asia interactions.

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