Myanmar has a rich cultural and historical heritage from ancient times through to modern times. The Pyu kingdom cities are an important heritage of the people of Myanmar which were listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2014. These cities are illustrations of life, practices and technologies of the ancient people most of which are recorded through the structures made by these people. Historically, the cities are important in the study of the Pyu people who migrated into the southern cities and established their kingdom.
5. Description and History -
The Pyu people migrated from the Tibetan plateau and occupied Irrawaddy valley in the 2nd century BC. They established the Pyu kingdom which remained powerful and influential for a millennium. The kingdom was composed of a total of 18 states with three most important ones being Halin, Beikthano, and Sri Ksetra. The kingdom established important trade ties with the Chinese and Indians from whom they adopted some practices such as Buddhism. The economy of the kingdom was dependent upon trade and agriculture which was possible through irrigation of the dry areas. The Pyu kingdom was conquered during the 9th century BC by the pagan and Mon dynasties. The Pyu people were gradually assimilated by other Burmese-speakers by the 14th century.
4. Tourism, Research, and Education -
The inscription of the Pyu kingdom States as world heritage sites attracted international recognition leading to increased tourist and research activity. The cities are among the earliest South East Asian states to adopt Buddhism thus attracting Buddhist pilgrimages who venerate the stupas and other Buddhist religious monuments. Researchers who seek to understand the culture, religious practices and influences of the Pyu kingdom have conducted excavations in the cities and held various seminars and conferences to discuss their findings. These findings are important for the basis of study in schools and to historians in establishing and understanding the history of Myanmar.
3. Archaeological Uniqueness -
Halin, Beikthano and Sri Ksetra cities have provided unique archaeological features with walled surroundings, religious monuments, unique agricultural practices and land utilisation schemes, mortuary practices and water management systems. The archaeological evidence is vital to understanding and reconstructing the history of the Pyu kingdom. Most of the kingdom remains unexcavated.
2. Natural Surroundings, Sights, and Sounds -
The Pyu includes remains of brick walled cities of Halin, Beikthano and Sri Ksetra with a series of irrigated landscape, palace citadels, and burial grounds with unique burial elements such as jewellery, urns, and brick stupas that are among the earliest in history.
1. Threats and Conservation Efforts -
The Pyu states are an important historical and cultural heritage which if not preserved would be at a risk of eternal loss. The inscription of the states by UNESCO was an important step towards the conservation and preservation of these cities locally, regionally and internationally. The ministry of culture through the Department of Archaeology is tasked with the responsibility of taking care of the sites. Other protection bodies for the cities include The National Museum, The Myanmar National Committee for World Heritage, and the Pyu Ancient Cities Coordinating Committee. Laws towards the same include; the Ancient Preservation Act, Antiquities Act, Law on the Protection and Preservation of Cultural Heritage Regions and the Rules and Regulations of the Cultural Heritage Region Law.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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