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This chapter broadens the scope of the Java-centric politics of archaeology and heritage towards Sumatra. The first archaeological activities on Sumatra, performed in the context of the colonial state, dated from the start of the nineteenth century. But it was during the second half of the nineteenth century that the now ‘archaeological’ sites of South Sumatra were more systematically inventoried and appropriated in the context of historical and ethnographic descriptions, geographical expeditions, military conquest, and the establishment of governmental structures. This chapter examines how South Sumatra, in particular Palembang, the Pasemah area, and Jambi, became gradually incorporated in the colonial archaeological infrastructure, as it was developed in Batavia, the administrative centre of the expanding colony. It focuses on interactions between state-supported ‘modern’ heritage concepts, local and regional appropriations of certain archaeological sites and objects, and the development of nationalist history writing by Sumatra-born Indonesians who also included the early past of Sumatra.
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