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Session of January 6

Lecture of M. Daniel Perret, Director of studies at EFEO, « Kota Cina: a settlement site in the Strait of Malacca (end of 11th c. – beg. of 14th c.)».

Abstract : French archaeological research, supported by the Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient and the Advisory Commission for Archaeological Research Abroad (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), has been active in the province of North Sumatra (Indonesia) for the last twenty years. These researches have been and are still focused on the main settlement sites in the region dating from the ninth century onwards.
At the time of its rediscovery at the beginning of the 1970s, the Kota Cina site, in the Strait of Malacca, yielded remains of permanent buildings, a large number of artefacts as well as faunal remains, to which must be added a number of Buddhist and Hindu images very likely produced in South India. Neglected during the following 40 years, this site is now seriously threatened by the rapid increase in modern constructions on the site as well as the industrial development between the city of Medan and its port, Belawan. In fact, thanks to excavations conducted there since 2011 within the framework of French-Indonesian archaeological cooperation, it is now clear that Kota Cina was among the major coastal settlements along the strait during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
At the end of the fieldwork, the program has collected the largest collections of earthenware, stoneware and porcelain shards in Sumatra, for terrestrial sites dating to the first half of the second millenium, and possibly of all time. To these collections must be added numerous faunal remains, as well as a large collection of coins, mostly Chinese. Hopefully, thanks to this wealth of finds combined with their various origins, from the Middle East to China, Kota Cina will take its place as a major reference site in the history of Sumatra and the Strait of Malacca. Moreover it should allow to assess its significance and role in the region, and more broadly in the relations between the Indian Ocean and the China Sea at the time.

Lecture of M. Alexandre Mazarakis-Ainian, Foreign correspondent of the academy : « κώμη πόλις, réflexion sur la formation de la cité dans la Grèce ancienne ».


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