Archaeological Bone in Southeast Asia
Principles of On-site Handling and Conservation

10 May - 25 June 2021

This six-week online course organised by SEAMEO SPAFA is designed to give an overview about the archaeology of human bones in Southeast Asia and the principles of proper on-site excavation and conservation. Students can follow the lessons at their own pace, which are delivered online via asynchronous video lectures, readings and quizzes. Certificates are given upon successful completion of the required assessments within the course duration.


Bones, and in particular human remains, are commonly found in archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. Some notable sites with human remains include the Nong Ratchawat Archaeological Site (Suphan Buri province, Thailand), Gua Harimau (South Sumatra province, Indonesia) and Liang Bua (Flores Island, Indonesia). Bones are especially fragile in tropical environments, and are prone to disintegration if not properly

extracted and consolidated after excavation.

In 2020, SEAMEO SPAFA was meant to conduct an Advanced Field School on the On-Site Handling and Conservation of Bones. However, due to the global pandemic, the programme was changed in the light of global travel restrictions. This online course is designed to give participants an overview of human remains in Southeast Asian archaeological contexts, the basics of human anatomy, demonstrations of how to properly extract, stabilise and store bone materials during archaeological excavations and virtual site visits. Over the course of six weeks, participants will listen to instructional lectures and are required to complete assignments designed to assess their understanding of the subject material. Once the global situation improves and international travel can be undertaken, this course will be used as a foundation and requirement for the advanced on-site training courses.

Course outline

The course in conducted in English, and the learning materials will be distributed via Google Classroom. You will need an email address and access to the internet to undertake this course. Each week will contain several short lectures, accompanied by supplementary material. Lectures will be delivered by regional and international experts in the field.

At the end of every week, participants are expected to complete a quiz to assess their understanding of the week’s material. Because the course is designed to be asynchronous, the lectures and quizzes can be accessed at your own time. However, in order to qualify for a cetificate of completion, you must complete all the quizes and achieve a minimum pass grade.

Opening Ceremony (Date to be confirmed)

Week 1 (May 10)

  • Hominins and Humans in Southeast Asia I

  • Hominins and Humans in Southeast Asia II

  • Current Conversations about the Human Past

Week 2 (May 17)

  • Some variation of burial traditions in Indonesia

  • Burial Traditions in Vietnam

  • Ethical and Respectful Treatment of Bones

Week 3 (May 24)

  • Overview of the in-situ extraction process

  • Basics of Human Anatomy

  • Estimation of sex in human skeletal remains

  • Estimation of age-at-death in human skeletal remains

Week 4 (May 31)

  • Using a Field Recording Form

  • Post-excavation treatment and bone management in Vietnam

Week 5 (June 7)

  • Virtual Site Visit: Nong Ratchawat

  • Demonstration class: Extracting Bones from the matrix

  • Demonstration class: cleaning and field stabilisation

Week 6 (June 14)

  • Virtual Site Visit: Gua Harimau: Research and Conservation Activities

  • Virtual Site Visit: Phu Noi

Closing Ceremony (Date to be confirmed)

June 25: Course closes (cut-off date for assessments)


Korakot Boonlop

Korakot is currently a lecturer in Department of Archaeology, at Silpakorn University, in Bangkok, Thailand. He specialises in human bones anatomy and analyses. By training, he has achieved a Ph.D. in bioarchaeology from School of Archaeology at University of Leicester in the U.K. Previously, he also completed M.Sc. in the U.K., in human skeletal, dental bioarchaeology and forensic anthropology, from Institute of Archaeology, University College London. Before going to the U.K. for further studies, he also previously awarded M.A. in prehistoric archaeology and B. A. in archaeology and anthropology from SilpakornUniversity in Thailand. Before joining Department of Archaeology at Sipakorn, Korakot had been experienced hisprofessional career as an archaeologist under the Fine ArtsDepartment (FAD), the Ministry of Culture and a researcher in archaeology and physical anthropology at the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre (SAC)respectively. He also has mainly experienced with various research projects, in respect of site surveys, excavations at both cave/rock-shelter and open-air sites, ranges from prehistoric to historical periods in Thailand and abroad, for example, Moh Khiaw Cave in Krabi southern Thailand, a series of Spirit Caves in Mae Hongson northwestern Thailand, a series of Ban Chiang Cultural Traditional Sites (e.g. Ban Khok Khon, Ban Pone, Ban Dung, Ban Chiang) and Non Mueang in upper part of northeastern Thailand, a series of prehistoric sites in central Thailand, a group of Neolithic cave and open-air sites in eastern Thailand, Vang Ta Laew Roc-shelter, Tham Suea Cave, Tham An Mah Cave in highland northern Laos, under the Middle Mekong Archaeology Project (MMAP). All those sites have yielded a number of humanremains that resulted in human remains collection, excavation, conservations, curation and analyses responsibilities to him. Moreover, while was furthering his additional degrees in the U.K., he had also been experienced by various projects of human bones excavation at different sites. Those projects also broadened his experience and developed his skill of human skeletal remains studies in laboratory as post-excavation procedure, for instance, human skeletal assemblages from Chapter House at Worcester Cathedral, in Worcestershire, a collection of St Mary’s Cathedreal in Coventry, King Richard III and Roman Human Skeletons from Western Road in Leicester City, Leicestershire. Additionally, the specific areas of his academic and research interest are human evolution and dispersals, palaeopathology, palaeodemography, osteoarchaeology.

Kate Domett

Associate Professor Kate Domett is a bioarchaeologist based in the College of Medicine and Dentistry at James Cook University in Australia. Kate has trained in biological and forensic anthropology, as well as human anatomy. She has been undertaking research in to prehistoric and historic human skeletal remains from Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Australia since 1995. Her research aims to understand community health of prehistoric people through analysis of human skeletal remains, particularly focusing on the influence of the distinctive Southeast Asian diet, tropical environment, climate and the sociocultural changes over time.

Sean Eng

Sean Eng is a senior lecturer at the Centre for Global Archaeological Research of Universiti Sains Malaysia. He obtained his BSc in Forensic Science (2004), MA in Archaeology (2009) and PhD in Biology (2014) specialised in archaeogenetics. He worked as a Forensic Science officer at the Forensic Medicine Department of General Hospital Ipoh and Penang between 2004 and 2009, where he gained expansive experience in field investigation and forensic anthropology. He was involved in archaeological excavations and conservation of prehistoric human remains at Niah Cave, Sarawak (2007), Pulau Kelumpang, Perak (2008) and repatriation works at Kem Terendak, Melaka (2018). Currently, his research focuses on the migration and settlement patterns of the aboriginal people in Sabah through genetics.

Supamas Doungsakun

Lâm Thị Mỹ Dung

Lâm Thị Mỹ Dung received her BA/MA and PhD in Archaeology from Sofia University named Kliment Okhridsky, Sofia, Bulgaria in 1983 and 1987. From 1989 up to now she is the lecturer in Archaeology and Vietnamese Traditional Culture at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, VNU, Hanoi, Vietnam. She was the former director of Anthropology Museum. At the moment she is chair of Department of Archaeology, Faculty of History, VNU USSH, Hanoi.
Her research interest covers the Metal Age in Vietnam and Southeast Asia, the appearance of rice cultivation and bronze metallurgy in Vietnam, Archaeology of Champa... Her various authored, co-authored and edited works include Fundamental Culture of Vietnam (1999); Gò Mả Vôi – New Research on the Sahuynh Culture (2002); The Bronze Age (2004); Fundamental Archaeology (2009); The Museum of Anthropology – The Achievements and Perspectives (2015); Thành Dền Archaeological Site – The Prominent Historical and Cultural Values (2016); Sa Huynh – Linyi – Champa 5th century BC – 5th century AD (Some Archaeological Issues)(2017, 2018); One millennium years of Champa pottery (2017, 2019). The Maritime Archaeology in Vietnam...

Nguyen Thi Mai Huong

I am a researcher based at the Institute of Archaeology, Hanoi since 1996. My research has focused on the vegetation and and the history of crops at different scales of both space and time through palaeoenvironmental evidence from archaeological sites in Vietnam by using environmental proxy (e.g., pollen, botany) to understand natural and anthropogenic landscapes and how the impact of environmental on the lives of ancient people.
Since 2012, I am became a manager of Paleoanthropology and Environmental Department, the Institute of Archaeology which was established from 1989. The Department covers three main research fields such as: Anthropology, Zoo- archaeology and paleoenvironmental. Therefore, besides of excavation and research activities, my colleagues and I also undertook the role of post excavation treatment and conservation a massive collection of human bone and paleontological remains. A “Pollen bank” references for palynological researches is also built. These are precious documents where Vietnamese and foreigner researchers could come to studies.

Sofwan Noerwidi

Sofwan Noerwidi is now one of the Junior Researchers at the Regional Agency for Archaeological Research in D.I. Yogyakarta Province. He received his Bachelor of Archeology from Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, in August 2003, while his M.Sc degree in June 2010 and a Doctorate in May 2020 in human paleontology from the Sorbonne Université-Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France, and Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain. Currently, Sofwan Noerwidi is actively conducting research in the field of Pleistocene Prehistory studies. He joins some prehistoric research in Indonesia, especially in Patiayam from 2006 to 2016, the Southern Mountain since 2007, Semedo since 2012, Gua Harimau since 2012, Sangiran since 2013, and Bumiayu since 2014.

Michael B. C. Rivera

Dr. Michael B. C. Rivera is a Filipino-Chinese writer, blogger, podcaster, public speaker and biological anthropologist based in Hong Kong. Obtaining his PhD in 2019 from the University of Cambridge, his main research focuses on how humans have evolved and adapted biologically and culturally over the last six million years. His main research methods include osteobiographical reconstructions of diet, disease, physical activity and body shape/size. Other interests include heritage and museums, culture and food, ethnographic documentary-making and visual anthropology, decolonial theory and praxis, the history of race and racism, and equity/diversity/inclusion (EDI) work in archaeology/anthropology. Host of 'The Arch and Anth Podcast', Dr. Rivera has also worked extensively in making research ideas accessible through various forms of teaching, social media and public engagement.

Melandri Vlok

Dr Melandri Vlok is an Assistant Research Fellow in the Department of Anatomy at the University of Otago. Dr Vlok is a bioarchaeologist specialising in palaeopathology and researches the implications for migration and trade on the presence of infectious and nutritional diseases in past populations in Asia. Dr Vlok’s work, funded by grant bodies including National Geographic and the Royal Society of New Zealand, involves the analysis of human skeletal remains from Vietnam, Japan and Mongolia. She is also involved with repatriation efforts focused on returning Māori and Moriori ancestral remains to iwi and imi (tribes) in New Zealand.

Naruphol Wangthongchaicharoen

Hi everyone, my name is Naruphol Wangthongchaicharoen. For my background, I am an archaeologist by training, I received BA, MA, and PhD in archaeology from the Department of Archaeology, Faculty of Archaeology, Silpakorn University, and now I am working as a lecturer there since 2016. Previously, I worked as either a contract archaeologist on a variety of archaeological projects organized by the Thai Fine Arts Department and a research assistant on the physical anthropological projects directed by the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre (Public Organization). Therefore I got a chance to excavated and took an analysis of the human remains uncovered from many archaeological sites in Thailand.
My research interest is related to Late Prehistoric Thailand, particularly in the field of bioarchaeology or human osteoarchaeology and mortuary analysis also.

Harry Widianto

Prof. Dr. Harry Widianto, DEA, is recently a Research Professor at The National Research Center of Archaeology -Yogyakarta SubCenter, Indonesia. He begun his carrier in Archaeology when he got his Bachelor degree in 1983 from The Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. He obtained then his Master (1990) and Doctoral (1993) degrees in palaeoanthropology, both from The Institute of Human Paleontology (Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle), Paris, France. He became a Senior Researcher since 2011, and got his Research Professor in 2018 from The Indonesian Institute of Sciences. He has written more than 100 publications as books and articles in proceedings and journals. As an archaeologist and also a palaeoanthropologist who was born and grown up in Java Island of Indonesian Archipelago with leading discoveries of Homo erectus, Homo floresiensis, and Early Modern Human, Harry Widianto is now focusing his research –during the last 15 years—on the evolution process from Homo erectus to Homo sapiens in the archipelago. That is why he is very active to carry out surveys and excavations on the Pleistocene-Holocene caves and open sites.

Who This Course is For

This course is designed as an introduction-level course into human remains in the archaeology of Southeast Asia. It may be particularly useful for:

  1. Practicing field archaeologists, especially those who do not have experience with human remains, or who will be working with human remains in the near future

  2. Advanced students in archaeology who do not have experience with human remains, or who will be working with human remains in the near future

This course will also be a foundation requirement for future advanced field trainings conducted by SEAMEO SPAFA. You will need an email address and access to the internet to undertake this course. The course content will be delivered over Google Classroom, and emal will be the primary form of communication.

Assessment and Completion

Every week, new lectures and course material will be uploaded in the classroom platform. You are free to view and read them according to your schedule. Lectures are around 20-30 minutes long, and course materials include supplementary websites, videos and reading material.

Each lesson is accompanied by a multiple-choice quiz based on the lecture and the reading materials to test your understanding of the lesson. Participants will be required to pass every quiz in order to qualify for the certificate. Quizzes can be done at any time, but they have to be completed by the end of the official course period (25 June 2021) in order to qualify for the certificate.



This course is run by the SEAMEO Regional Centre for Archaeology and Fine Arts. For specific questions about the programme, please contact Dr. Noel Hidalgo Tan at