The Maritime Asia Heritage Survey (MAHS) works to digitally document historical and archaeological sites across the coastal and island world of Southern Asia through field survey work in the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Brunei, and Vietnam.  

The seasonal monsoon cycles of this region have for centuries facilitated the circulation of people, materials and ideas across this vast seascape and created a complex mosaic of diverse local cultures. Today, many of the important sites, monuments and objects associated with the rich history of the region are increasingly under threat: exposed to environmental stress from cyclones, tsunami, coastal erosion, land subsidence and rising sea-levels; rapid and unplanned development and construction; and in some instances deliberate acts of vandalism.

To document this endangered heritage, the MAHS field teams uses digital technologies including GIS, RTK mapping, aerial and terrestrial LiDAR, digital photography, 3D modelling, video, CAD and IIIF standard manuscript digitizations to produce robust records in on online archive for the benefit of historians, local communities, governments, and heritage management professionals. The project is led by R. Michael Feener at the Kyoto University Center for Southeast Asian Studies. All records and other digital heritage assets produced by and/or integrated into the MAHS are made open-access available online here and permanently archived in the library systems of Kyoto University and the University of Oxford.

The Maritime Asia Heritage Survey is funded by a grant from Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing & Peter Baldwin.

View our 3D models on Sketchfab

Interactive 3D visualizations of coral stone mosques, Buddhist temples, statuary, and other heritage sites and objects from the Maldives and Indonesia are available on the MAHS Sketchfab page. Click the arrow below to link to those collections of digital heritage assets.

3D Collections

Manuscript viewer

The MAHS Manuscript Viewer is a web interface providing access to Deep Zoom images of texts on paper and engraved on copper plates related to the history of the Maldives. The materials presented here include manuscripts digitized by our Survey Team in the field, as well as a selection of texts from the collections of the Maldives National Museum in Malé, as well as scans generously provided with permission by the Maldives National Archives.

Oral histories

Archive of oral history interview videos recorded in the course of
MAHS field survey work, presents a range of local perspectives
on the meanings of historical and archaeological sites by
members of contemporary local communities.

MAHS Survey Accomplishments

1592 Sites
7299 Structures
8895 Objects
24 3D Models
87 LiDAR Point Clouds
220 Digitized Manuscripts
40 Oral History Interviews
5 Collections

Latest from social media

The Gunongan is one of the few surviving structures from the former palace grounds of the Ache Sultanate. It is an open structure building with ten sides, and has three levels. This massive building is built of stone, sand, brick, and lime mortar. The entrance building is oriented toward the southwest. The base of every exterior corner is ornamented with a single large trefoil. Floral ornaments is also found on the corners of the upper level, featuring an Acehnese pucok reubong motif.

The Maritime Asia Heritage Survey aims to systematically inventory and document endangered tangible cultural heritage in the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Brunei, and Vietnam to create an open-access resource website and heritage database.

In Indonesia, The Maritime Asia Heritage Survey (MAHS) is work in partnership with Direktorat Jenderal Kebudayaan, Kemendikbud. For more information about our project, please visit our website:

#indianocean #indonesia #aceh #kucseas #bpcbaceh #cseas #openaccess #3dmodel #dirjenkebudayaankemendikbud #jalurrempahri #heritage #history #jalurrempahnusantara #jalurrempahaceh

The MAHS Field Survey Team has just begun work in Malé, Maldives. The team has been adjusting to the ongoing pandemic and travel restrictions over recent months by shifting focus to the documentation of artefacts and manuscripts in collections in Malé.

A particular focus of this work has been at the Maldives National Museum, where the team has documented a number of pieces through the systematic description, measurements, and photography used for both standard database record images as well as for photogrammetric visualizations in 3D models available which can be viewed on the MAHS website.

In Maldives, The Maritime Asia Heritage Survey (MAHS) is working in partnership with National Center for Cultural Heritage (NCCH), Ministry of Art, Culture and Heritage.

Follow our ongoing work at: #IndianOcean #Maldives #Malé #heritage #OpenAccess #CSEAS #MaritimeAsiaHeritageSurvey

The latest installment of the MAHS Blog is an essay by Himanshu Prabha Ray: Of Cowries and Conch Shells: Maldives and the Indian Ocean Networks
Marine molluscs commonly found at coastal as well as inland sites in the Indian Ocean region include cowries (Cypraea) and conch shells (Turbinella pyrum). These marine resources were used as a part of the subsistence strategy of coastal and island communities, but were also traded and adapted to ritual use. Archaeological finds of conch shells and cowries indicate several intersecting networks across the Indian Ocean involving not just trade and trading groups, but importantly also fishing and sailing communitie, as well as ritual specialists who traveled long-distance on ships. This essay discusses two striking pre-Islamic objects from the Maldives documented in the MAHS online archive, contextualizing them within broader cultural frameworks across maritime Southern Asia.
#IndianOcean #Maldives #heritage #OpenAccess #CSEAS

Three recent publications on the Maldives are now available online through the MAHS Virtual library at #IndianOcean #Maldives#Malé #heritage #OpenAccess #CSEAS #MaritimeAsiaHeritageSurvey