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Janice Stargardt, MA DLett

Janice Stargardt, MA DLett

  • Professorial Research Fellow in Asian Historical Archaeology & Geography, Department of Geography
  • Senior Fellow of the McDonald Institute of Archaeological Research, Archaeology Division, Cambridge
  • Fellow in Archaeology at Sidney Sussex College



  • 2017- : Senior Fellow [Research] of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research
  • 2012-17: Member [Research] of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Archaeology Division
  • 2013-16: 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. She is Co-Director of the Project on Settlement and Landscape Archaeology, Sri Ksetra, Myanmar [Burma], and with her Cambridge-Myanmar research group currently carries out annual surveys and excavations in Myanmar, and previously in Thailand. She has discovered ten archaeological sites, four large ancient irrigation systems and a network of ancient navigation canals. Among methodological innovations are her use of satellite imagery for archaeological surveys and mapping since 1976-, and integrating palynological evidence into her archaeological reports since 1983 (the first in South East Asia). With Thai and UK colleagues (especially Professor Philip Gibbard), she has recovered 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 National Museums of Burma, among others.

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, South Thailand, 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. In 2015 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 Janice Stargardt is researching the earliest phase of urbanism in South East Asia at the early Pyu city, Sri Ksetra in Burma, which became the largest city before Angkor. From January-late February 2015, she identified and began excavating at Sri Ksetra the first habitation site in Burmese archaeology, with staff and labour of the [National] Field School of Archaeology of Myanmar. Collaborative work with the Field School was resumed from late November 2015-late February 2016, and December 2017- end January 2018, with environmental inputs by Dr Gabriel Amable (Department of Geography), Professor Dorian Fuller (archaeo-botany, UCL), Dr Sean Taylor (Geo-archaeology, Cambridge) and cultural contributions from Dr Sheila Kohring [ceramics, Cambridge]. Janice Stargardt's research documents technical exchanges occurring between India and Burma long before the early spread of Buddhism with trade into South-East India and Burma, and also identifies Buddhism's complex encounters with local religions in both areas, which challenge previous models of indianisation. She traces long reciprocal processes of creative and highly selective assimilations rather than the unilateral cultural impositions once envisaged. In 2012-4, Janice Stargardt was UNESCO Consultant with the Department of Archaeology and National Museums of Burma, as co-author and general editor of the Nomination Dossier of the three ancient Pyu cities submitted to the World Heritage Organisation. In June 2014, as an Observer with the National Delegation of Myanmar at the World Heritage Committee in Doha, she successfully argued the case for the Outstanding Universal Value of the Ancient Pyu Cities before the World Heritage Assembly .

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 problems of the southern provinces impede 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-; from 2005-6 a Project of the British Association of South Asian Studies). The volume arising from this research will be published as a British Museum Research Publication in May 2018 under the title: Relics and Relic Worship in Early Buddhism, India, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Burma under her editorship.


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.) 2018 : Relics and Relic Worship in Early Buddhism of India and Burma. London, The British Museum Research publication, due May 2018.
  • 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 (2018-1992 only)

  • Stargardt, J. 2018: 'The great silver reliquary of Sri Ksetra; where Buddhist art and epigraphy met,' in Relics and Relic Worship in Early Buddhism, Janice Stargardt (ed.). London, British Museum Research Publication.
  • Stargardt, J. 2016: 'From the late Iron-Age to early cities at Beikthano and Sri Ksetra, Myanmar'. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, Special Issue From Prehistory to Early History. Miriam Stark and Stephen Murphy (eds.), October, Vol. 47, No. 3, 341-365.
  • Stargardt, J. co-author 2015: 'Early urban archaeology in Southeast Asia: the first evidence for a Pyu habitation site at Sri Ksetra, Myanmar'. With Gabriel Amable, Sheila Kohring, Sean Taylor, Win Kyaing, Tin May Oo, Kyaw Myint Aung, Tin Tin Htay, Nyo Nyo Yin Mauk, Naw Pauk Wah, Win Sein.
  • Stargardt, J. and Amable, G. 2015: 'Water from the Ancient City: a new method of satellite surveys of irrigation water at Sri Ksetra, Burma.' In Advancing Southeast Asian Archaeology 2013; Selected Papers from the First SEAMEO-SPAFA International Conference on Southeast Asian Archaeology. Noel Hidalgo Tan (ed.). Bangkok, SEAMEO SPAFA, 144-152 and figs. 184-188.
  • Stargardt, J. 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 Barbara Schuler (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. 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. co-author 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. and Choathip Purintavaragul 2004b: 'Reconstructing the Ancient Landscape of South Thailand by Means of Remote Sensing', 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. A. Kallen, and A. Karlstrom, (Eds). 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. K. van Kooij and M. Klokke (Eds). 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. Schottenhammer, A.(ed.). 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). Manguin, P-Y. (ed.). Hull, Centre for South-East Asian Studies 1998, 126-138, 7 figs, 1 table.
  • Stargardt, J. 1998:'Earth, Rice, Water: Three Essays in "Reading the Landscape" as Historical Record on Satingpra, South Thailand,', in Nature and The Orient; the environmental history of South and Southeast Asia. Grove, R., V. Damodaran & Satpal Sangwan (eds.). Oxford & Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1998, 125-183, 7 figs., 14 tables.
  • 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: '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. Elvin, M. and Liu T-j. (eds.). Taipei, Academia Sinica, 1995 (in Chinese, translated by Academia Sinica), 209-70, 10 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, Schipper, K. & A.M.Blondeau (eds.). 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. Condominas G. et al. (eds.). 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. Riggs, J.(ed.). 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. Ishizawa, Y. and T.Kano (eds.). Tokyo, Sophia University, Institute of Asian Culture, in association with the Fine Arts Department of Thailand, 107-128, 6 figs.


  • Advisor and Mentor, M..Phil. students in Environment and Development in South East Asia in the Department of Geography
  • Advisor and Mentor, Ph.D. students on South East Asian topics in the Department of Geography
  • Advisor and Mentor, Ph.D. students in Heritage, 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 Catalogue and 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, Observer at the World Heritage Committee Meeting, Doha; successfully argued the Outstanding Universal Value of the Pyu Ancient Cities - unanimously adopted.
  • 2014-, Research Collaborator (for Pyu sites of Burma) in ERC Synergy Project 609823 ASIA for comparative archaeological and palaeographical research on select sites of India, Central Asia and Burma in the Gupta Era, 4th-6th cent. CE.
  • 2013, Visiting Professor in Burmese and South East Asian Archaeology, Department of Archaeology, University of Yangon [Rangoon], supported by the Open Society [Soros] Foundation.
  • 2012-14, UNESCO Consultant co-operating with the Department of Archaeology and National Museums, Burma: contributor to and general editor of the Nomination Dossier to the World Heritage Organisation on The Three Ancient Pyu Cities as Sites of Outstanding Universal Value.
  • 2013-, Advisory Editor, National Maritime Research, Journal of the China Maritime Museum, Shanghai.
  • 2005-10, 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.
  • 1999-2008, 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 2012-14; Specialist Lecturer for the British Council in Asia 1979, 1984, 1991; Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford, numerous; Paris: the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Religieuses [Buddhism] numerous 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 on the Isthmus of Kra.
  • 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, and 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.