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Ancient Southeast Asia (Hardcover) (John Norman Miksic)
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Ancient Southeast Asia presents the evolution of complex societies in Southeast Asia during the period from the protohistoric period (beginning approximately 500 BC) to the arrival of Portuguese colonists in 1511. Southeast Asia has the most diverse habitat and cultural mosaic of any comparably-sized area on earth. The population exploited the abundant resources and favourable location on maritime transport routes along the south Asian coasts to create some of the most elaborate art styles and monumental complexes ever constructed. The unique combination of environment, topography, and long-distance communication provides opportunities for important comparative research with other centres of early socio-economic complexity.
Surprisingly, this rich and diverse region has not been well served by textbooks but this volume provides a comprehensive and integrated account of the factors which gave Southeast Asia its unusual character as a locus of cultural fusion and hybridization. Wide-ranging coverage, with chapters on the natural environment and the prehistoric period, allow the reader to understand the archaeology of this region in the round. It utilizes sources in French, Dutch, Chinese, Malay-Indonesian, and Burmese in addition to English, and synthesizes theoretical perspectives and data from archaeology, history, and art history. Finally, the region has a book that does justice to its importance in world history and its staggering diversity.