[Talk] Mystery of the Prehistoric Log Coffin Culture in Highland Pang Mapha, Mae Hong Son Province

Readers in Bangkok may be interested in this talk at the Siam Society on Thursday by Prof. Rasmi Shoocongdej.

Mortuary practice is an important indicator of past ideology and its analysis can be developed by classifying burials into specific types, a method which can limit our understanding of mortuary variability, particularly the horizontal and vertical scales of social organization. Research in Highland Pang Mapha, Mae Hong Son province, on the Thai-Myanmar border, has revealed the unique features of log coffins placed on posts inside caves atop limestone cliffs. The log coffin culture dates to 2,200-1,000 years ago and bears similarities with the hanging coffins of the extant local inhabitants, the Yue, who are associated with the Tai peoples of Yunnan, South China. This talk will present an overview of Log Coffin culture in Thailand in relation to China and Southeast Asia, through a cross-cultural approach. It will also examine the cemetery organization from the Ban Rai Rockshelter and Long Long Rak Cave sites of Highland Pang Mapha, through a temporal and spatial analysis of the archaeological evidence, to assess the stylistic approach and mortuary practice as units of analysis for the symbolic and cultural landscape, cemetery organization and social memory. The resulting analyses will help our understanding of mortuary and social organization of ancient Highland communities and the complex interactions between South China and Southeast Asia.

Source: Mystery of the Prehistoric Log Coffin Culture in Highland Pang Mapha, Mae Hong Son Province. A Talk by Rasmi Shoocongdej

An archaeology for the people, by the people

Vietnam’s Institute of Archaeology is set to explore a relatively new concept in archaeological practice: community-based archaeology, which is a grassroots-centred movement to get local people interested and preserving their own past. This interview with the vice-director of the Institute of Archaeology explains further.

Residents to help dig up the past [Link no longer active]
Viet Nam News, 15 September 2008
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Live from ‘Sharing Our Archaeological Heritage’

I’m writing from Johor Bahru, Malaysia, where sessions at the international archaeology seminar organised by the Association of Malaysian Archaeolgists are underway. Monday’s been pretty packed filled with session after session of presentations from the different parts of Southeast Asia – this seminar’s theme is ‘Sharing Our Archaeological Heritage’.


Keynote speech by Dr Stephen Oppenheimer

Yesterday’s sessions began with the keynote speech by Oxford’s Stephen Oppenheimer about Southeast Asia’s role in the various waves of human migration. Explaining from a genetic perspective, he suggested the strong genetic evidence for a single southern route (by hugging the coast via India) out of Africa into Southeast Asia and Asia some 80,000 years ago. In more recent times, he also suggested indigenous expansions of local populations within Southeast Asia instead of a single ‘out of Taiwan’ theory to explain human migration into Australia, New Zealand and Polynesia.

Other presentations that caught my ear today was Dr Rasmi Shoocongdej’s work in Northwestern Thailand – I had a nice chat with her during lunch about conducting my fieldwork surveys in Thailand next year and also received some advice from her. Of course, homo floresiensis had to pop up – and from Dr. Harry Widianto’s presentation. I heard why he didn’t consider the hobbit to be a new species. It seems to me that the divide on opinion is very much based on nationalistic lines – with the Indonesians very much denying that homo floresiensis is a new species.

Another day of presentations on Tuesday, and then on Wednesday, we go on an archaeological tour of Johor!

10,000-year-old caves discovered

A series of caves in North Thailand prove to yield significant archaeological material. The location of the caves remain undisclosed, but are slated for research and eco-tourism in the future.

10 December 2006 (The Nation) – A series of caves in North Thailand prove to yield significant archaeological material. The location of the caves remain undisclosed, but are slated for research and eco-tourism in the future.

10,000-year-old caves discovered

Exploration uncovers 176 caves, which can provide answers about life in the North

Scientists have recently made significant cave discoveries in the Pang Mapha district of Mae Hong Son.

They are excited about the geological, ecological and archaeological importance of the finds.

A few of the caves will be opened to tourists but most will be preserved for research.

Silpakorn University archaeologist Dr Rasmi Shookongdej said finds from the caves and their surrounding areas were important. After three years the team still has much to study.

“The traces we found tell us how people in the area used caves in their age, which is more than 10,000 years ago. We found burial sites, skeletons and stone and iron tools,” Rasmi said.

The 176 caves have been divided into three categories – tourists can visit 15, 112 will be saved for research and 49 have yet to be classified.

The 15 tourist caves have been divided again – seven are for adventure tourists, four for general tourism and another four have religious significance.

Of those set aside for research, dozens could be opened to visitors later, Kasem added. But, priority was study.


Related Books:
Caves of Northern Thailand by P. Sidisunthorn, S. Gardner and D. Smart
Patterns of habitation and burial activity in the Ban Rai Rock Shelter, Northwestern Thailand by C. Treerayapiwat