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Janice Stargardt, MA DLett

Janice Stargardt, MA DLett

  • Professorial Research Fellow in Asian Historical Archaeology & Geography, Department of Geography
  • Fellow and Director of Studies in Archaeology & Biological Anthropology at Sidney Sussex College



  • 2015-: Fellow of the McDonald Institute of Archaeological Research, Archaeology Division, Cambridge
  • 2012-: Member of the McDonald Institute of Archaeological Research, Archaeology Division, Cambridge
  • 2012-: Fellow and Director of Studies in Archaeology and Biological Anthropology, Sidney Sussex College
  • 2006-: Professorial Research Fellow in Asian Historical Archaeology and Geography, Department of Geography
  • 2002-12: Fellow and Director of Studies in Archaeology and Geography, Sidney Sussex College
  • 1993-2006: PACSEA Senior Research Fellow (Readership level), Department of Geography
  • 1976-1993: Senior Research Fellow, Needham Institute, Cambridge
  • 1976-1998 : frequently, Directeur d'Etudes [Professor], in the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes IV and V, and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris, in Southeast Asian Archaeology, Religion and Culture, respectively
  • 1975: British Academy Travelling Fellowship in South East Asian Archaeology
  • 1970-74: Evans Fellow in South East Asian Archaeology, Department of Archaeology, 1970-3, Evans Grantee 1974
  • 1969-70: Leverhulme Post-doctoral Fellow in South East Asian Archaeology, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Faculty of Letters, University of Tokyo


  • B.A. Melb., M.A. Cantab., D.Lett. Paris [Leverhulme Post-Doctoral Fellowship Dissertation on The Formative Stages of Civilisation in Burma, integrated into Doctorat-es-Lettres d'Etat, Arrete 1977 of Secretaire d'Etat aux Universites].


Janice Stargardt works on the historical geography and archaeology of South and South East Asia. The over-arching theme of her research has been the transition of societies in South-East India, Burma and Thailand from Iron Age villages to complex, literate and urbanized communities. She explores a range of factors involved in this transition: the natural environments - resources and stresses and the role of ancient irrigation in mitigating the latter; the contribution of maritime trade to prosperity; and the cultural cargoes that travelled with trade. With her research group she carries out annual surveys and excavations in Burma and Thailand, where she has discovered ten archaeological sites, four ancient irrigation systems and a network of ancient navigation canals. Among her methodological innovations are the use of satellite imagery for archaeological surveys since 1976-, and integrating palynological evidence into her archaeological reports 1983- for the first time in South East Asia. With Thai and UK colleagues (especially Professor Philip Gibbard), she has a continuous palynological record for the past 10,000 years on the changing structure of the ancient rainforest on the Kra Ecotone, with emphasis on its economic plants. With Dr Gabriel Amable and Mr Philip Stickler, she has developed new applications of aerial photography and remote sensing for environmental and archaeological research in the humid tropics, resulting in new maps of her research areas which have been adopted by the Royal Ordinance Survey of Thailand, the Department of Archaeology and Museums of Burma, and are widely used outside the region. She applies insights gained from the time perspectives of this research to the problems of environment and development in contemporary societies of the Third World, especially Asia. Thus her research on the ancient irrigation system of Songkhla Province in South Thailand has led to its on-going rehabilitation, with positive impact on the livelihoods of farming families of the area.

From 1971-1988, she directed long-term excavations at the early historic sites of the Satingpra complex, South Thailand, which were engaged in high-value sea trade with South China, 10th-14th century, while also continuing her archaeological and environmental surveys in Burma. 1988-1998. Aerial and surface surveys and selective coring of ancient irrigation systems in Thailand and Burma, have shown that they were implicated in urban genesis and development at the following sites: Halin, Beikthano, Sri Ksetra (major Pyu sites of Burma) and Satingpra, (South Thailand) from the late first millennium BCE and throughout the first millenium CE. Recently she published further work on maritime trade in Asia, tracing key examples of its value and volume from the 9th-10th cent., and its role in urban genesis.

Currently she is researching the earliest phase of urbanism in South East Asia through the significant phases of early Pyu urbanism in Burma. From December 2014-end of February 2015, she identified and began excavating at Sri Ksetra the first habitation site in Burmese archaeology, together with six staff members of the [National] Field School of Archaeology of Myanmar. This work will be resumed in late November 2015-February 2016. Her evidence on the early spread of Buddhism with trade into South India and Burma, and Buddhism's complex encounters with local religions in both places challenges previous models of indianisation. She reveals a long, multi-facetted process of reciprocal, creative and highly selective assimilations rather than the one-way cultural impositions once envisaged. In 2012-3, she worked as UNESCO Consultant with the Department of Archaeology and Museums of Burma. She was co-author and general editor of the Nomination Dossier to the World Heritage Organisation for the three major ancient Pyu cities to be granted World Heritage Status. In June 2014, she attended the World Heritage Committee in Doha as an Observer with the National Delegation of Myanmar, where she successfully argued the case before the Assembly for the Outstanding Universal Value of the Ancient Pyu Cities.

Her research is supported, among others, by grants from the British Academy, the Royal Society, the University of Cambridge and Sidney Sussex College, the European Research Council [ERC], the Natural and Environmental Research Council [NERC], The Ford, Lee and Chiang Ching-kuo Foundations, the Wenner-Gren Trust, the Department for International Development [DFID], the Research and Exploration Committee of the National Geographic Society of the United States, the British Association of South Asian Studies [BASAS], and the British Council offices in Thailand, Burma and Malaysia.

In the Department of Geography, Janice Stargardt cooperates with the following Research thematic groups and individuals:

Environmental Systems and Processes

With Professor Phil Gibbard and Thai colleagues from the Prince of Songkla University, Hat Yai she has worked long-term on Quaternary geological, biological and archaeological change in the Kra Ecotone of South Thailand, particularly the interactions between people, rainforests and cultivated plants within a changing geological context around the Songkhla Lakes. The current security situation of the southern provinces impedes this work.

She is also collaborating with Dr Gabriel Amable in the development of new applications to satellite imagery to enhance the detectability of ancient irrigation systems and archaeological sites in tropical landscapes, and with Mr Philip Stickler, Head of Cartography, on the development of new maps for select areas of Burma and Thailand.

Population, Health and Histories

A member of the Population, Health and Histories research thematic group, which is coordinated by Dr Philip Howell, Janice Stargardt is coordinator of a British Academy research project on Relics and Relic Worship in Early Buddhism in India and Burma (2002-, now a Project of the British Association of South Asian Studies). A volume of the same name is currently nearing publication. Her two other major projects are cultural changes leading to early urbanism in South-East India and Burma in the early first millennium CE, and Asian maritime trade in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean in the late first millennium CE.


Janice Stargardt's publications have been translated into German, Japanese, Chinese, Burmese and Thai; she regularly writes in French as well as English.

Books and Monographs

  • Stargardt, J. (ed.) n.d. : Relics and Relic Worship in the Early Buddhism of India and Burma. London, The British Museum, due 2016.
  • Stargardt, J. (ed.) 2013: The Three Ancient Pyu Cities as Sites of Outstanding Universal Value; the Nomination Dossier to the World Heritage Organisation. Yangon, Ministry of Culture, Department of Archaeology, Museums and National Library.
  • Stargardt, J. 2008: The Sea Unites; essays in the maritime archaeology and remote sensing of South East Asia. Cambridge, PACSEA, 210 pp (paperback).
  • Stargardt, J. 2001: Resources - A Common Pool for Whom and How? A review of NRSP's past and current CPR-related projects. DFID NRSP Programme Development Report PD107.
  • Stargardt, J. 2000: Tracing Thought through Things: the Oldest Pali Texts and the Early Buddhist Archaeology of India and Burma. Seventh Annual Gonda Foundation Lecture 1999; [revised and expanded] Monograph of the Royal Netherlands Academy, Amsterdam, 2000, 60 pp., 23 figs. & pls.
  • Stargardt, J 1990, 1991: The Ancient Pyu of Burma. Vol. I, Early Pyu Cities in a Man-Made Landscape. PACSEA, Cambridge, in association with ISEAS, Singapore, (hardcover) December 1990; (paperback) April 1991, xxix + 436 pp., 135 figs., 32 pls.
    • 1993: Translated into Japanese, University of Tokyo, Faculty of Letters, Graduate Programme in South East Asian History
    • 1994: Translated into Burmese, University of Yangon (Rangoon), Faculty of Arts, Department of Archaeology
  • Stargardt, J. et al. 1988 : Histoire du paysage, archéologie et télédétection. [History of the Landscape, Archaeology and Remote Sensing], with Jacques, C., M. Terrasse. J. Legorgeu. Paris, EPHE/CNRS, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes IV, 1988, 98 pp., 12 figs, 19 pls.
  • Stargardt, J. 1983: Satingpra I, the Environmental and Economic Archaeology of South Thailand. British Archaeological Reports (BAR), Oxford in association with the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), Oxford, 1983, xxiii+381 pp., 66 figs. &. pls.
    • Translated into Thai, Silapakorn University, Department of Archaeology

Selected Articles and Book Chapters (2014-1992 only)

  • co-author, 2014a: 'The Pyu Civilization of Myanmar and the City of Sri Ksetra,' with Thein Lwin and Win Kyaing in Lost Kingdoms; the Hindu and Buddhist Art of Southeast Asia, 5th-8th century. John Guy (ed.), N.Y. Metropolitan Museum, 63-8.
  • Stargardt, J. 2014b: 'Irrigation in South Thailand as a Coping Strategy against Climate Change: Past and Present,' in Schuler, B. (ed.): Environmental and Climate Change in South and Southeast Asia; how are local cultures coping? Leiden, E.J.Brill, Chapter Five.
  • Stargardt, J. 2014c: 'Indian Ocean Trade, 9th-10th century; demand, distance and profit,' South Asian Studies, (Journal of the British Association of South Asian Studies), 30:1, 35-55.
  • Stargardt, J. 2014d: Chinese translation of the above, by Zhuang Yijie and Liu Xinyi, for National Maritime Research (Journal of the China Maritime Museum, Shanghai) July 2014, 31 pp.
  • Stargardt, J. and Amable, G. 2014: 'Water from the Ancient City: a new method of satellite surveys of irrigation water at Sri Ksetra, Burma.' In Proceedings of the SEAMEO-SPAFA First Conference on Southeast Asian Archaeology, Bangkok, SPAFA (in press), 28 pp.
  • Stargardt, J. 2013: 'The Three Ancient Pyu Cities in Comparative Perspective,' in The Nomination Dossier to the World Heritage Organisation..., 29 pp.
  • Stargardt, J., Amable, G. and Devereux, B. 2012: 'Irrigation is Forever: a study of the post-destruction movement of water across the ancient site of Sri Ksetra, Central Burma,' in Lasaponara, R. and Masini, N. (eds.) Remote Sensing: a New Tool for Archaeology, 16. Dordrecht, Springer, Chapter 11.
  • Stargardt, J. 2011: 'Dehua Ceramics in Long-Distance Trade in the Song-Yuan Period; excavations at Satingpra South Thailand,' in Cheng Jianzhong (ed.) Ceramics Capital of China; the Dehua Kilns. Quanzhou, Quanzhou Museum, 63-84.
  • Stargardt, J. 2007: 'Buddhist Archaeology', Encyclopedia of Archaeology, Deborah Pearsall (Gen. Ed.) Elsevier/Academic Press, N.Y., Vol. 1, 670-83.
  • Stargardt, J. 2005a: 'The Hindu-Buddhist Period', in Southeast Asia: A Historical Encyclopedia from Angkor Wat to East Timor. ABC-Clio.
  • Stargardt, J. et al. 2005b: 'Holocene sea levels and palaeoenvironments, Malay-Thai Peninsula, southeast Asia', The Holocene, 15, 8, 1199-1213 (with R.P.Horton, P.L.Gibbard, G.M.Milne, R.J.Morley, C. Purintavaragul).
  • Stargardt, J. 2005c: 'Death rituals of the late Iron Age and early Buddhism in Central Burma and South-East India - whose norms, whose practices?' in Im Dickicht der Gebote; Studien zur Dialektik von Norm und Praxis in der Buddhsismusgeschichte Asiens. Peter Schalk (Ed.), Uppsala, Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, Historia Religionum 26, 407-33.
  • Stargardt, J. et al 2004a: Poster on 'Holocene Sea Levels', presented at the Annual Conference of the American Geological Society.
  • Stargardt, J. et al. 2004b: 'Reconstructing the Ancient Landscape of South Thailand by Means of Remote Sensing', (with Choathip Purintavaragul) invited paper, Conference on Remote Sensing Archaeology, Beijing October 2004, published online by the Institute of Remote Sensing Applications, Chinese Academy of Science, Beijing. 13pp, 8 pls.
  • Stargardt, J. and D. Twitchett 2004c: 'Chinese Silver Bullion in a Tenth-Century Indonesian Wreck', Asia Major (3rd Series), XV, I, 2002 [pub. 2004], 23-72. 14 Figs & Pls.
    • Translated into Chinese, 'Chenchuan yibao: yisou shi shiyi Chenchuan shuang de Zhongguo yinding,' in Tang Yanjiu (Tang Studies - Beijing University), 2004, 383-431, 14 figs & pls.
  • Stargardt, J. 2002-3: 'City of the Wheel, City of the Ancestors: spatial symbolism in a Pyu royal city of Burma', Indo-asiatische Zeitschrift [Berlin] 6/7, 144-167, 7 figs.
  • Stargardt, J. 2003: 'Mapping the Mind; some cultural cargos of ancient South East Asian maritime trade', in Fishbones and Glittering Symbols Ed. A. Kallen, and A. Karlstrom, Stockholm, Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, 103-118, 22 figs. & pls.
  • Stargardt, J. 2001a: 'The Historical Geography of Burma; the creation of enduring patterns in the Pyu period.' Newsletter of the International Institute of Asian Studies [IIAS], Leiden, July, Special Burma Issue, 2 figs.
  • Stargardt, J. 2001b: 'The Great Silver Reliquary from Sri Ksetra: the oldest Buddhist art in Burma and one of the two oldest Pali inscriptions in the world,' in Festschrift for Professor J.G. de Casparis. (eds. K. van Kooij and M. Klokke). Groningen, Egbert Forster, 487-519, 13 pls.
  • Stargardt, J. 2001c: 'Behind the Shadows: archaeological data on two-way sea-trade between Quanzhou and Satingpra, South Thailand, 10th-14th century,' in Emporium to the World: Quanzhou and Maritime Trade, 10th-14th century, (ed. Schottenhammer, A.). Leiden, E.J.Brill, 309-93, 23 figs, & pls., 4 tables.
  • Stargardt, J. 2000 : 'Contrôles et contraintes socio-économiques des systèmes traditionnels d'irrigation et d'agriculture: le système d'Angkor dans les perspectives comparées,' in Angkor and Water/Angkor et l'Eau, (bi-lingual French/English, ed. UNESCO). Paris, UNESCO & EFEO, n.d. [2000], 9 pp, 14 figs., 7 tables.
  • Stargardt, J. 1999a: 'An Historical Atlas of South-East Asia, by Jan Pluvier,' Journal of Historical Geography, 25, 1, 104-6.
  • Stargardt, J. and Choathip Purintavaragul 1999b: 'The Forests of the Kra Isthmus, South Thailand,' Royal Society South East Asian Rainforest Research Program Newsletter, December.
  • Stargardt, J. 1998: 'Urbanization before Indianization at Beikthano, Central Burma,' in Southeast Asian Archaeology 1994. (Proceedings of the Conference of the European Association of Archaeologists of South East Asia), (ed. Manguin, P-Y.). Hull, Centre for South-East Asian Studies 1998, 126-138, 7 figs, 1 table.
  • Stargardt, J. 1995: 'The Four Oldest Surviving Pali Texts: the Results of the Cambridge Symposium on the Golden Pali Text of Sri Ksetra (Burma), April 1995,' Journal of the Pali Text Society, 199-213.
  • Stargardt, J. 1995 and 1998: 'Earth, Rice, Water: Three Essays in "Reading the Landscape" as Historical Record on Satingpra, South Thailand,' in Sediments of Time: Environment and Society in Chinese History , (eds. Elvin, M. and Liu T-j.). Taipei, Academia Sinica, 1995 (in Chinese, translated by Academia Sinica), 209-70, 10 figs., 14 tables.
  • English version of above, in Nature and The Orient; the environmental history of South and Southeast Asia. (eds. Grove, R., V. Damodaran & Satpal Sangwan). Oxford & Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1998, 125-183, 7 figs., 14 tables.
  • Stargardt, J. 1992a : 'Assimilations reciproques entre le rituel funéraire autochtone et le bouddhisme en Birmanie ancienne, du 2ème s. av. J.C. au 8ème s. ap. J.C,' Keynote Lecture for the Centenary of the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes V, Collège de France, 1987, in Le Rituel, vol. II, (eds. Schipper, K. & A.M.Blondeau). Louvain, Peeters, 89-106, 10 figs.
  • Stargardt, J. 1992b : 'Le cosmos, les ancêtres et le riz; l'eau dans l'espace urbain des pyus en birmanie,' in Disciplines croisées, hommage à Bernard-Philippe Groslier, (eds. Condominas G. et al.). Paris, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, 311-35, 13 figs.
  • Stargardt, J. 1992c: 'Water for Court or Countryside? Archaeological Evidence from Central Burma and South Thailand Reconsidered,' in The Gift of Water, (ed. Riggs, J.). London, School of Oriental and African Studies, 59-72, 2 figs.
  • Stargardt, J. 1992d: 'Muang Fa Daed: from prehistoric moated villages to Mon-Khmer style city; new archaeological studies of aerial images.' in Ancient Khmer Cities of Lower North-East Thailand, (eds. Ishizawa, Y. and T.Kano). Tokyo, Sophia University, Institute of Asian Culture, in association with the Fine Arts Department of Thailand, 107-128, 6 figs.


Undergraduate tripos

  • Director of Studies and Supervisor in Part 1, Archaeology and Anthropology.
  • Director of Studies and Supervisor in Part 2A and 2B, Archaeology and Biological Anthropology.


  • Advises M..Phil. students in Environment and Development in South East Asia in the Department of Geography
  • Advises Ph.D. students on South East Asian topics in the Department of Geography
  • Advises Ph.D. students and Post-docs in Geo-archaeology, South, South East, and East Asian Archaeology in the McDonald Institute, Division of Archaeology, University of Cambridge and at Sidney Sussex College.

External activities

  • 2015-, Co-Director of Excavations at Sri Ksetra (with U Win Kyaing, Principal of the Field School of Archaeology)
  • 2014-, Contributor to the Special Exhibition of the Metropolitan Museum, New York, on Lost Kingdoms: the Hindu and Buddhist Art of Southeast Asia, 5th-8th centuries; Speaker at the Exhibition Symposium 17 June.
  • 2014-, Research Collaborator (for Pyu sites of Burma) in ERC Synergy Grant Beyond Boundaries..., for comparative archaeological and palaeographical research on select sites of India, Central Asia and Burma in the Gupta Era, 4th-6th cent. CE (corresponding ÍPrincipal Investigator Dr Michael Willis, British Museum).
  • 2013, Visiting Professor in Burmese and South East Asian Archaeology, Department of Archaeology, University of Yangon [Rangoon], supported by the Open Society [Soros] Foundation.
  • 2012-, International Expert co-operating with the Department of Archaeology and Museums, Burma: co-author and general editor of the Nomination Dossier to the World Heritage Organisation on The Three Ancient Pyu Cities as Sites of Outstanding Universal Value.
  • 2012-, Consultant to UNESCO Regional Office, Bangkok, for the same project.
  • 2012-, Advisory Editor, National Maritime Research, Journal of the China Maritime Museum, Shanghai.
  • 2005-, UK representative on the International Expert Group for Remote Sensing Archaeology, under the auspices of UNESCO and the Chinese Academy of Science.
  • 2000-8, Member of the International Policy Panel, Tropical Rainforest Forum of the UK.
  • 1999-, Member of the Royal Society's Rainforest Research Programme.
  • 1989-, Series Editor, South East Asia, PACSEA, Cambridge.
  • 1983-, Member Management Committee, Asian Studies Centre, St Antony's College, University of Oxford.
  • 1981-, Consultant to UNESCO, UNDP, 1981 Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka, Angkor 1999, Yangon 2013; Specialist Lecturer for the British Council in Asia 1979, 1984 1991; Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford, numerous; the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Religieuses [Buddhism] on numerous occasions 1977-98, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales 1985; University of Heidelberg (South Asian Institute) 1985, University of Munich 1995, Silapakorn University Bangkok 1984 and 1987; Chinese University of Hong Kong 1999 and 2007.
  • 1973-2006, Visiting Professor, Prince of Songkla University, Hat Yai Campus, Thailand on modern and ancient environmental studies.
  • 1976-, By Decree of the President of France, Foreign Professor for Life [Directeur d'Etudes], Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes IV [national research institute of history and philology], Sorbonne, Paris.
  • 1974-, Research collaboration with the University of Andhra at Vishakapatnam, India, on early Buddhist archaeology; with the University of Pondichery, Tamil Nadu on the late Iron Age of South India; with the Chinese University of Hong Kong on GIS and Remote Sensing, the history of maritime trade and ancient ceramics; with Xiamen University, China on Southeast Asian historical geography; and with the Institute of Remote Sensing, Beijing on the application of remote sensing to archaeology.