Rediscovering an ancient Thai hub

A travel feature on the village of Kok Mai Den in the northern province of Nakhon Sawan in Thailand, which was a major prehistoric city until the Dvaravati period.

Local efforts put an ancient site on the tourist map
Bangkok Post, 23 August 2009

If local villagers at Ban Kok Mai Den, in Nakhon Sawan’s Phayuha Khiri district, have their way, their sleepy hometown will become an alternate tourist destination in the lower northern region.

Almost unknown to the outside world, archaeologists believe Kok Mai Den was a prosperous town in the prehistoric era before the spread of Buddhism in the region. Archaeological evidence, including bronze tools, indicate there was human settlement in Kok Mai Den some 2,500 years ago. It evolved through the Dvarvati period and was a major iron-trading city in the Chao Phraya River basin. In the early Rattanakosin era, it was also known as a hub for the sugar trade at the time, when the Chao Phraya River was a major trade route. But the town gradually became dormant – and almost forgotten – following the construction of the highway that links Bangkok to the North.

Renowned archaeologist Sujit Wongthes said the area was highly developed as a Buddhist city in the Dvarvati period more than 1,500 years ago. It was later referred to as Muang Bon, which literally means the upper city, while a twin city, called Muang Lang, or the lower city, existed in what is now Chai Nat province.


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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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