By D G E Hall (auth.)
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And Wheatley's answer is, to a very much later period than the second century, so far as the Malay Peninsula is concerned. There are equal difficulties when one attempts to make sense of his account of the Archipelago. One has therefore to admit that for evidence concerning the diffusion of Indian culture in South-East Asia these works of early European geographers provide very little more substance than Indian classical writings. In the late nineteenth century, when European scholars began the intensive study of the antiquities of South-East Asia and began to realize the extent of the influence of Sanskrit culture upon the religion, art and architecture of the area, the tendency was to regard these things as the results of a movement of Indian expansion eastwards.
There are purely incidental allusions, almost impossible to interpret, in Sanskrit classical verse and Tamil court poetry. 1 The Riimiiyana, for instance, speaks of Yavadvipa, the island of gold and silver, and the Vayu Purana, while spelling the word Yamadvipa, mentions Malayadvipa also. Sir Roland Braddell, one of the most penetrating students of the historical geography of the area, equates Malayadvipa with Sumatra, while Yavadvipa is interpreted by scholars as a regional name for Java-cum-Sumatra.
There has been much speculation as to the possible connection of this culture with the neolithic, which succeeded it. Von HeineGeldern, for instance, has ventured the theory, challenged by other scholars, that the neolithic oval-axe culture found in northern Burma, among the Nagas of Assam, in Cambodia and in the eastern islands of the Archipelago, is connected with the use of a plank-built canoe, and that both represent a development of mesolithic culture. Two other forms of celt come from the neolithic period : the shouldered axe found in many places from the Ganges to Japan, but not south of a line drawn through the middle of the Malay Peninsula, and, most widespread of all, the rectangular axe, found in the river valleys of the Hoang-Ho, Yangtse, Mekong, Salween, Irrawaddy and Brahmaputra, as well as throughout Indonesia.