Ancient Cambodian ceramics on a table
Under an agreement with the Cambodian government, dozens of ancient ceramic pieces were brought from Cambodia to Hawaiʻi with the understanding that they will be repatriated.

Dozens of ancient ceramic pieces from Cambodia, dating back 2,000 years, were on display at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa as part of the Department of Anthropology World Anthropology Day celebration on February 20.

UH Mānoa Professor Miriam Stark co-directed several field excavations in Angkor Borei, Cambodia in 1996, 1999 and 2000. With permission from the Cambodian government, Stark and her team were able to ship these pieces to Hawaiʻi with the understanding that the pieces will be repatriated. This is the last expected exhibit as the department is preparing to return the pieces to Cambodia later this year.

Professor Miriam Stark's headshot
Stark’s research specializes in Southeast Asian archaeology.

Archaeology Labs Director Mark Oxley said these ceramic pieces provided many research opportunities for students.

“The initial project involved undergraduate and graduate students working on these, analyzing the qualitative aspects of it, taking observations of the different styles, colors, patterns and then doing a quantitative analysis,” Oxley said. “There’s also always new techniques that come about so while it’s been here some time, something new comes up and then we end up sending it out somewhere to do that research or conducting it here.”

Oxley also explained the work that goes into caring for these pieces.

“We try to meet all the basic curatorial standards,” Oxley said. “We have a secure room. Whenever students work on it, it’s part of my job as I help students, supervise them, teach them techniques on how to handle and hold them. With ceramics, you should be wearing cotton gloves because your oils are very easily absorbed.”

The ceramic collection was just part of the department’s World Anthropology Day celebration. The department also hosted a series of lectures with UH Mānoa faculty, a bake sale and movie night.

Two graduate students visit exhibit
UH Mānoa anthropology graduate students Kylie Tuitavuki and Kaho Franzen visit the Cambodian ceramic collection.