Asian Perspectives, 2013 - Volume 52, Number 2 (Fall)

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    Designs of Kings and Farmers: Landscape Systems of the Greater Angkor Urban Complex
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 2013) Hawken, Scott
    Greater Angkor was the capital of the Khmer Empire from the ninth to the fourteenth centuries a.d. The rulers of Angkor left behind magnificent temples, along with extensive, centrally planned landscapes and massive urban complexes. However, the landscape of Greater Angkor also represents a decentralized planning tradition. This article addresses the different scales of economic landscapes at Greater Angkor: from massive rice-field superstructures watered by artificial irrigation, to smaller patches of fields organized around local temples and ponds. Contrary to widely accepted views, the design of extensive cultural landscapes does not require the presence of an elite controlling authority, or the guidance of a commonly conceived plan. Within Greater Angkor, the design of extensive landscapes often occurred at the local level, most likely involving local traditions rather than abstract, centrally approved plans. The relationship between centralized and decentralized planning traditions is investigated using a topographic classification of the landscape based on extensive mapping from remote sensed imagery from 2007–2010. Covering 1000 km2 of rice fields, and including 22,000 km of rice-field bunds, the topographic classification of the rice-field systems reveals two very different ways of building. These two systems are best described as coaxial systems and cardinal systems: both suggest dramatically different development models and socioeconomic frameworks. The two different, and extensive, development processes had a lasting physical impact on the resulting landscapes, and are still actively used today. This article discusses the evidence for both central and local plans as well as more complicated examples, where both central and local plans seem to have influenced the design of landscapes. Illustrated examples of centrally planned landscapes and local approaches to planning landscapes demonstrate this premise.
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    The Social and Ecological Trajectory of Prehistoric Cambodian Earthworks
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 2013) Dega, Michael ; Latinis, Dr. Kyle
    This article moves discussion of prehistoric earthworks in Cambodia from normative archaeology into an ecological landscape structure, based on archaeological data sets. Discussions provide a synthesis of archaeological and newly borne-out ecological explanations for original site construction, occupation, landscape use, sustainability of occupation for the earthwork culture over a 2000-year period and terminal use of the sites. A model is presented to assess site abandonment and post-earthwork region settlement patterns.
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    Buddhism and its Relationship to Dvaravati Period Settlement Patterns and Material Culture in Northeast Thailand and Central Laos c. Sixth–Eleventh Centuries a.d. : A Historical Ecology Approach to the Landscape of the Khorat Plateau
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 2013) Murphy, Stephen A.
    This article employs the research paradigm of historical ecology to investigate the spread and development of early Buddhism in the Khorat Plateau during the Dvaravati period. The movement of this religion into the region was largely determined by preexisting settlement patterns, with moated sites being particularly important. The arrival of Buddhism also introduced monumental architecture and a definable art style. These moated settlements were dependent on large-scale river systems such as the Mun and Chi, particularly in regard to water management, agriculture, transport, and communication. A study of the distribution of sema stones also provides evidence for the spread of Buddhism, while Buddha images carved into rock faces on mountaintops and evidence for rock shelters illustrate that the tradition of forest monks was functioning alongside the more established urban monasticism. The relationship between Buddhism and society is explored, illustrating how the arrival of this religion resulted in new cognitive and physical conceptions of the landscape best demonstrated by changes in settlement planning. Finally, it is shown that Buddhism did not function outside of society but existed in an interdependent relationship with both the lay community and local rulers, with patronage being granted in return for not only spiritual guidance but political legitimization.