Accepted paper:

From the Mekong delta to the south coast of Arabia: the case of lids-lamps with central gripping hole, ceramological study of an indianized shape


Guillaume Epinal (EHESS - Paris)

Paper short abstract:

A particular indianized ceramic shape, the lid-lamp with central gripping hole found on coastal sites of early first millenium AD reflects a large distribution of pan-indianized patterns among local societies connected by long-distant sea trade.

Paper long abstract:

Current knowledge on material culture from the first indianized States of Southeast Asia has made remarkable progress since the mid-1990s. However the chrono-typology of ceramic remains unclear. On coastal sites of the first centuries AD, if the imported Indian wares are better known, it should be measured with the predominant local productions (sometimes Indianized) whose study is often neglected.

Ceramics corpus yielded from excavations inform us about the origin, modalities and periodicity of deep-sea trade with the Indian sub-continent. Some typo-morphological characteristics and indianized techniques constitute evidence of installing Indian merchant populations, which gradually blend in the indigenous background. Cosmopolitan Funan has known at an early date the introduction of Indian pottery techniques (potter's wheel, fine paste, firing in a controlled atmosphere). Its tangible culture reflects strong cultural exogenous influences and ceramic shapes such as the kendi and the lid-lamp with a central gripping hole are common on pre-Angkorian sites of the Mekong Delta. Outside of Funan, similar ceramic types were found on sites on the south coast of the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa, which refer to Indian assemblages.

The communication will focus on this type of lid-lamp. This particular shape reflects a coastal distribution over a large geographic area, of a pan-Indianized pattern between the second century BC and the third century AD, which could be marker of a precise region of Indian influence. Although still preliminary, the results of a comparative study of material from recent excavations in the different areas mentioned will be presented.

panel P28
Ceramics from mainland and island Southeast Asia: understanding ancient communities, cultural interactions, and socio-economic trajectories.