The temples and ritual sites of the walled Pyu cities of Burma
Throughout the First Millennium AD, walled sites enclosing up to 13 square kilometres were constructed in Upper Burma and in Arakan, near the Bangladesh border. Archaeology has given us a window to the life, the hopes and fears, of the inhabitants. They kept in close contact with their ancestors, whose cremated remains were integral to the ritual sites of the cities. Buddhist and other Indic artworks, and religious texts, show that they were open to new and changing spiritual notions. Intaglios, symbol-marked coins and gold jewellery provide evidence of trade, technology and social differentiation. But defensive walls and gates, and what appear to be deliberately buried protective figures, artifacts and inscriptions, also suggest that there was a great concern with enemies, real or imagined. This lecture outlines what we know of an ancient culture that sat in a crucial zone between India, China and Southeast Asia, and just as importantly, considers the many research questions that still need to be asked.
Dr Bob Hudson is an archaeologist from the University of Sydney, Australia. His research focuses on the origins, function and fate of the early urban systems of Myanmar (Burma). He applies a range of techniques, from excavation and satellite imagery analysis to radiocarbon dating and DNA sampling, to research issues. He is a visiting professor at the Myanmar Department of Archaeology Field School at Pyay, the site of the Pyu city of Sriksetra.