AAA Annual Meeting Program

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Paper Information:
Type: Paper
Paper Title: INSCRIBING LEGITIMACY AND BUILDING POWER IN THE MEKONG DELTA
Author: MIRIAM STARK (University of Hawaii-Manoa)   
Date/Time: Thu., 8:30 AM
Co-Author(s): MIRIAM STARK (University of Hawaii-Manoa) 
Abstract: At its height, the Khmer empire was Southeast Asia’s largest and most influential civilization, and scholars acknowledge that the underpinnings of 9th-14th century Angkorian civilization – an inextricably linked mix of iconography, religion and statecraft – appeared in the Mekong delta centuries before Jayavarman II declared himself the universal Khmer monarch in 802 CE. Understanding the history of Angkorian civilization requires a deeper time span that begins in the last centuries CE and closes at the end of the 8th century CE. The earliest polity that contemporary Chinese observers described was Funan, and research in the last twenty years has yielded archaeological evidence to complement documentary records. Norman Yoffee’s comparative research on the establishment of order and legitimacy provides a new framework for studying the rise of the Khmer state. The ethnic identity of preliterate populations in the Mekong delta remains a matter of great debate that no empirical archaeological research can resolve. Yet the earliest Khmer writing appeared in the 7th century CE as Khmer elite inscribed their legitimacy onto a ritual landscape they commissioned to honor Indic gods. Their sponsorship of the construction and maintenance of ritual spaces required wealth, as did their support for ritual practices at these places that materialized order that structured pre-Angkorian society. A corpus of 7th and 8th century inscriptions, coupled with recent archaeological research in the region, offers important insights on economy and polity on the Mekong delta’s history from c. 500 BCE – 800 CE.

Program Number: 2-0225
Session Title: COUNTERNARRATIVES OF STATE, CIVILIZATION, AND HISTORY: PAPERS IN HONOR OF NORMAN YOFFEE
Session Sponsor: Archaeology Division
Session Date/Time: Thu., 8:00 AM-11:45 AM
Organizer(s): GEOFF EMBERLING, ADAM SMITH (University of Chicago), LORI KHATCHADOURIAN (Cornell University) 
Chair(s): GEOFF EMBERLING, ADAM SMITH (University of Chicago), LORI KHATCHADOURIAN (Cornell University)  
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