Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

3 - Demographics, Social Hierarchies and Ethnicity from 10th to 14th Century Port Cities in Island Southeast Asia

Saturday, July 7
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
Location: Rudraksha, Lower Ground Floor

Over the last three decades, substantial amounts of archaeological data of material cultural finds, such as ceramics, metal remain, currency and fauna remain, have been accrued through numerous archaeological excavations of the thirteenth and fourteenth-century settlement sites in Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and South Thailand. These data sets, however, have primarily been utilized to trace the economic interactions between the settlements of the Malacca Straits Region and the key economies of Maritime Asia, including China, India and the Middle East. While the societies of these settlements have been assumed to have been primarily “Malay”, the nature of the demographics, social hierarchies, and the different ethnicities present in the settlements’ populations have been postulated, based on studies of textual and oral accounts from the early-modern and modern eras (16th century onwards). This paper seeks to broaden the paradigms and methodologies for the reconstruction of the nature of Malacca (Melaka) Straits region coastal settlement populations through the use of archaeological information as a means of identifying social status, ethnicity, and cultural identities. The paper will explore Singapore, South Thailand, and South Kedah to highlight similarities and differences in Malay Peninsula population characteristics. In the process, the paper aims to provide an approach that would enable a more nuanced reconstruction of the differing characteristics between maritime societies of the Malacca Straits region during the tenth to fourteenth centuries through a social science approach. 

Derek Heng

Northern Arizona University, United States

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3 - Demographics, Social Hierarchies and Ethnicity from 10th to 14th Century Port Cities in Island Southeast Asia



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