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 MAHS Field Survey Team has just begun work in Aceh, Indonesia. Together with colleagues from the Aceh Office for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage (Balai Pelestarian Cagar Budaya / BPCB Aceh), we will be working in Indonesia’s Aceh province for the next four months to digitally document sites of endangered cultural history.

In their work, the Team pursues a combination of traditional field survey techniques with digital technologies including GIS, photography, video, RTK mapping, aerial and terrestrial LiDAR, 3D modeling, CAD, and IIIF standard manuscript digitizations to produce robust records for our online archive. This resource is designed to be of benefit to local communities, academics, government agencies, NGOs, and heritage management professionals. Follow our ongoing work at: #indianocean #indonesia #aceh #heritage #openaccess #kucseas #bpcbaceh #cseas #MaritimeAsiaHeritageSurvey

MAHS PI R. Michael Feener, Co-PI Patrick Daly and their colleagues from the Aceh Geohazards Project have published a new article on early Muslim gravestones in Southeast Asia: 'Islamisation and the formation of vernacular Muslim material culture in 15th-century northern Sumatra,':

This study presents a distinctive type of Muslim gravestone found on the northern coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, that dates to the 15th century. These grave markers, locally known as plang-pleng, provide evidence for the formation and disappearance of an early form of vernacular Muslim material culture in Southeast Asia.
The full text of the article and online supplemental material is open-access available at:
#IndianOcean #Indonesia #Sumatra #Aceh #Islamicart #Islamicarchaeology #digitalarchaeology #OpenAccess #CSEAS

The new MAHS website has just been launched:

This open-access online archive presents a wealth of multi-media material in ways that facilitate cross-referencing for the comparative study of the inter-connected histories of maritime Asian societies. It includes IIIF deep zoom digitized manuscript images and metadata, 3D models of historical sites and cultural artefacts incorporating LiDAR and photogrammetry, as well as video recordings of oral history interviews in addition to the main database.

The website also features customized reference resources designed and produced by the MAHS Team to help users to contextualize the datasets, including an interactive 3D timeline, glossaries of local terms for architectural features, ornamental motifs, and traditional crafts, as well as a virtual library of open-access scholarly publications. #indianocean #maldives #indonesia #heritage #digitalarchaeology #openaccess #cseas

An overview of our work on the pilot phase of the project has just been published online by Antiquity:

It presents our work on the pilot phase of the project to document cultural heritage vulnerable to both environmental and human threats in the Maldives, and highlights the contributions that the MHS has made to fields including Indian Ocean History, Islamic Studies, and the archaeology of Buddhism. Our open-access online database is designed to inform academic studies, support heritage-management plans and create a permanent archive of digital heritage resources for future generations.

For more information and access to the complete data set, visit us at: #maldives #indianocean #Islamicarchaeology #buddhistart #digitalarchaeology #openaccess #cseas