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Review of Early Thailand: From Prehistory to Sukhothai

The Bangkok Post carries a review of Higham and Thosarat’s Early Thailand: From Prehistory to Sukhothai, which is an update to their earlier work, Prehistoric Thailand: From Prehistoric Settlement to Sukhothai. You can get a copy of the book here.

Early Thailand, The Nation 20121105

Early Thailand, The Nation 20121105

Digging Thailand
The Nation, 05 November 2012

In 1998, the British archaeologist Charles Higham and Rachanie Thosarat, formerly of the Fine Arts Department, published Prehistoric Thailand which conveniently summarised the results of the growing number of archaeological projects in the country. Fourteen years on they have decided the work needs updating. There has been a lot more digging, but more importantly there are now better dating techniques, the new science of DNA, and a new vision of early human history.

In the earlier book, Higham and Rachanie wrestled with the possibility that rice might have been domesticated from local wild species. Now they have decided that rice and probably millet came around 2000 BC from sub-Yangtse China through Yunnan with a new wave of migrants, who possibly brought an ancestor of the languages now labelled as Mon-Khmer, as well as dogs descended from wolves found in China.

With new dating technology, the authors fix the start of the Bronze Age around 1000 BC, scotching old claims that Ban Chiang might have been among the earliest bronze-using societies in the world. They hazard that the technology came from China or India or both, but the industry became highly developed here because of plentiful raw materials. Sites near the Mekong River smelted ore into ingots which were then dispersed to many communities which forged tools, vessels and ornaments.

Full story here.

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