While at IIAS I shall continue my work on the critical study of Angkor and Champa and the relations between them. This will include (1) revising and expanding a paper entitled "Champa Revised", which I presented at a Champa conference in the Asian Research Institute, University of Singapore, in August 2004, (2) a contribution to a new book on the Bayon temple to be published by River Books, Bangkok late in 2005, and (3) two articles entitled "The emergence of Khmer politics" and "Sacred and secular power", for a catalogue for the exhibition "Angkor--Cambodia's Greatness and Glory", in Bonn in 2006. With respect to Angkor, the long-term objective is a social and economic study of the type I produced for the pre-Angkor period.
The further study which I propose, like the Pre-Angkor book to which I refer, is based first of all on Cambodian and Champa inscriptions available in published collections (some important Champa inscriptions have not been published).
Both for Angkor and Champa my project starts from the presupposition that their histories as written are defective, and that even when the important sources, the local inscriptions, have been competently translated (in the case of Cambodia) their information has been interpreted and synthesized with other sources of information based on assumptions which are no longer acceptable.
Revisions of the standard history depend very much on new ancillary work in archaeology, prehistory, historical ethnology, linguistics, and historical interpretations of ancient South and Southeast Asia, which, living in Thailand and Cambodia for several years, I have not been able to access, and for which my time at IIAS, with the libraries of Leiden and Amsterdam, will be particularly valuable. For Champa, the situation is worse than for Angkor, because serious historical work on Champa ended, with one significant exception, before 1930, and the Cham-language inscriptions have never been subjected to expert translations like the work of George Coedès for Khmer. That particular problem will not be solved in my work either, for I am not a Chamist, and so far as I have been able to determine, there is no competent translator of Old Cham working today. Nevertheless, the translations which were done between 1904 and 1915 by Louis Finot and very recently on the inscriptions of the Po Nagar temple in Nha Trang, are probably 80-90% reliable and may be confronted with the interpretations of other sources which are gaining currency.
In addition to trying for better understanding of the inscriptions, further work on Champa must take into account certain new conceptions about the history of the Champa-Cambodia region (and indeed of all of Southeast Asia). First is awareness that from late prehistoric times until into the second millennium AD, the great navigators in the region were neither Indians nor Chinese, but Southeast Asians, in particular those belonging to the Austronesian language family, whose distribution from Taiwan to the Philippines and Indonesia and from the Pacific Ocean (Polynesia) to Madagascar proves their seagoing skills.
Among these Austronesians were the Cham, and it is now accepted by interested scholars that contrary to the standard conception of the time of Maspero and Coedès, the Cham were not one of the hypothesized 'waves' of overland population movement out of China and through the mainland peninsula to Nusantara, but latecomers from Nusantara, probably Kalimantan, arriving by sea on the eastern and southeastern coasts of Indochina in the last centuries B.C.
The main purpose of my paper, "Champa Revised", cited above, was a critical analysis of Georges Maspero's Le royaume de Champa (1928), which was accepted literally by George Coedès in his Etats hindouisés, and thereafter was a dominant component of all discussions of Champa. I show in that paper, which will be revised and extended at IIAS, that Maspero's history of Champa was faulty both in conception and detail, and his syntheses of Champa inscriptions with Chinese and Vietnamese sources led to inaccurate conclusions about major events throughout, in particular, the 10th to 15th centuries after Champa was faced with an independent Viet Nam and an aggressive Cambodia. The history of those 500 years must be completely rewritten, for Champa internally, and for its relations with both Viet Nam and Cambodia.
The new consensus on the Austronesians and their maritime skills suggests that it was probably Southeast Asian Austronesians, and not people from India, who were responsible for the first imports from the latter to Southeast Asia, such as beads, pottery, and small luxuries, which long antedated any signs of Hinduism/Indianization. As Pierre Manguin has written, "The archaeological research of the last 30 years has proved that this ‘Indianization' [of Southeast Asia] during the first centuries A.D. happened after about a millennium of steady exchanges with India, in which certain populations of Southeast Asia, who were beginning to organize themselves within political systems of increasing complexity, played a decisive role, particularly in the setting up of seafaring merchant networks exporting gold and tin" [to India]. Accepting this makes it easier to explain the rapidity with which new developments in India, such as styles of script, sculpture, and cult conceptions were transmitted almost immediately to Southeast Asia. It was because Southeast Asians had long been in maritime contact with India, and they immediately took home whatever novelties appeared. Once this much is admitted, the next logical supposition is that it would have been Southeast Asians, and not Indians, who brought the first elements of Hinduization/Indianization to Southeast Asia, integrating them selectively, and with adaptations, into their own structures of complex societies. I believe this idea is quite new among historians, and I intend to argue strongly for it with support from the new work in ancillary fields noted above.
In my published work on pre-Angkor Cambodia, I have demonstrated some of that local structure, including elements of elite hierarchies and cult conceptions which could not have been imported from India.. New work by some currently active Sanskritists also perceives local cultures and societies absorbing Indian religious conceptions in accordance with their own preexisting habits. This is seen in a contribution to the projected book on the Bayon temple at Angkor (cited above), to which I have been asked to contribute.
The Khmer, of course, were not Austronesian, and there is no indication that they were important seafarers. The distribution of Mon-Khmer languages, of which Khmer is one, indicates a long (probably several thousand years) occupation of the mainland. It would seem that the reception of Indic elements into the Khmer area might have been via other Southeast Asians, of whom the Cham are prime candidates. Indeed, most archaeologists and linguists now consider that 'Funan', the conventional beginning of Cambodian history, was not Khmer, but Austronesian. I am not convinced, but at least the Funan area included the southern coasts of later Cambodia and Vietnam, where ancient ports have been found and would have been in close contact with Champa to the north. Thus, even if the majority population of Funan and its rulers were Khmer they were certainly exposed to the Austronesian maritime networks, and may have actively made use of them in order to contact distant countries such as India.
One of the points on which I intend to focus is the close Champa-Cambodia relationship throughout the historical period. The Indic scripts of their oldest inscriptions are nearly identical, but extant evidence indicates that the Cham had adopted them before the Khmer, both for writing local languages and Sanskrit; some of the earliest Khmer-language inscriptions (7th century) contain Chamic terminology and titles; the two presumably Khmer areas with the earliest epigraphy, the far South ('Funan') and along the Dangrek mountain chain, had easy contact with different parts of Champa; and 7th-century inscriptions on either side record amicable contact and even a royal marriage between a Champa prince and a Khmer princess.
After the 8th century, the records of Khmer-Cham contact show rivalry and warfare, but at least proof of constant contact. It may have been Cham pressure which impelled the putative founder king of Angkor, Jayavarman II, to establish a new center in the North; and Chamic architectural influence is obvious in some of the temples on Mount Kulen, conventionally considered to have been the work of Jayavarman II (a subject much in need of reconsideration). The details of that period, however, are still vague and not yet cleansed of legend, as I showed in a draft paper given to the EFEO in September 2004, "A legend concerning Jayavarman II", the elements of which will be integrated into my IIAS project.
One section of my paper "Champa Revised", and on which I shall continue to focus in my IIAS project is the period of most intense Cham-Khmer contact as seen through the epigraphy, quite detailed on the Champa side, from mid-12th to mid-13th century. There were invasions of both sides by the other, and a long, still unexplained sojourn of the future king Jayavarman VII in Champa in the 1150s-1160s. He must have been part of the Champa political scene when that country was subject to attacks from Cambodia. The details of his return to save Cambodia from a Cham invasion and his later subjugation of Champa derive from internally contradictory epigraphy badly synthesized with Chinese histories. This will also be subject to thoroughgoing revision in my IIAS project.
It seems likely that Jayavarman's ideas on religious reform were in part developed from his experiences in Champa, that his preference for Sanskrit in his inscriptions, after 300 years of increasing use of Khmer, was to make Sanskrit a neutral unifying religious and cultural element of joint Cambodia-Champa, and that the iconoclastic vandalism in his temples after his death may have been a reaction against his Champa policy rather than his religion. This subject is also being developed for the book on the Bayon cited above, and I believe that some of the contributions there, including my own, will argue that the reasons for vandalism at the Bayon, and the relative dating of some of its components, must be critically revised.