Rock Art and the Sacred Landscapes of Mainland Southeast Asia

Part of the One World Archaeology book series (WORLDARCH, volume 8)


Across mainland Southeast Asia, rock art sites often coexist with sacred shrines and temples of Buddhism and Hinduism. We examine the coexistence of rock art with religious shrines in Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos. The rock art of Southeast Asia has rarely been directly dated, but most of them are thought to be from the prehistoric period. The introduction of Buddhism and Hinduism in the early Christian Era (CE) reconfigured these painted landscapes for their own use, where they are still in use today, either in harmony or as indifference to the earlier rock art. Is this coexistence confluence or coincidence? We discuss the various commonalities and differences among these sites and suggest that these sites may always have been regarded as “powerful” or “spiritual” sites in one way or another.


Religious Activity Stone Tool Sandstone Formation Rock Shelter Buddha Statue 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The bulk of the data gathered for this research was funded by the Australian National University as part of Tan’s Ph.D. research. Griffith University partly funded Taçon’s research in Cambodia and Thailand. Several government agencies have been instrumental in facilitating the research, namely, the Apsara Authority (Cambodia); the National Research Council of Thailand and the Fine Arts Department (Thailand); the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (Laos); and the Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library of the Ministry of Culture (Myanmar). Thanks also to Jutinach Bowonsachoti, Gem Boyle, David Brotherson, Ea Darith, Nicholas Gani, Heng Piphal, Heng Than U Hla Shwe, Im Sokrithy, Khieu Chan, Lagh Udam Ransei, U Man Thit Nien, Amphone Monephachan, Muong Chan Raksmey, Sakada Sakhouen Duangpond Kanya Singhasen, Atthasit Sukkham, Watinee Tanompolkrang, Sulatt Win, Charmaine Wong, the Robert Christie Centre of the University of Sydney, and the Archaeology Unit of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  2. 2.Griffith UniversityQueenslandAustralia
  3. 3.PERAHU, School of HumanitiesGriffith UniversityQueenslandAustralia

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