The cradle of the Southeast Asian Bronze Age

The cradle of Bronze Age culture of Southeast Asia is one of the region’s lesser-known, up-and-coming tourist spots. Udon Thani in Northeast Thailand is the gateway to Ban Chiang, where the earliest evidence for bronze was found in the region.

The Star, 12 April 2008

History overturned
Malaysia Star, 12 April 2008

Ban Chiang lies some 50km east of Udon Thani, capital of the province of the same name. Like Udon Thani, the Ban Chiang you see today is relatively new. It was less than 200 years ago that a group of displaced Thai Phuan farmers from the Kwang district in Lao chose this then deserted site to make their home.

The old bits of pottery they found scattered here and there they dismissed as someone’s trash. In a sense it was. The original settlement had been abandoned – deforestation and soil exhaustion the probable reasons – some 1,500 years before. This was after nearly 4,000 years of continuous occupation.

Ban Chian also features in an earlier post, 5 Southeast Asian archaeology sites to visit (that are not Angkor).

Related Books:
Ban Chiang: Discovery of a lost Bronze Age : an exhibition organized by the University Museum, University of Pennsylvania [and others]
BAN CHIANG: Art and Prehistory of Northeast Thailand
Ban Chiang, a Prehistoric Village Site in Northeast Thailand: The Human Skeletal Remains (Thai Archaeology Monograph Series, 1)
The Bronze Age of Southeast Asia (Cambridge World Archaeology)
Ancient Chinese and Southeast Asian Bronze Age Cultures (2 Volume Set)

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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