Archaeological exploration in the past decade has revealed a new Bronze-iron Age culture in central Myanmar. As most finds are located along the Samon River valley, they have become known as the Samon culture. Principally mortuary goods, many of the artifacts are unique and not found outside Myanmar. Other objects, however, parallel bronzes of the elaborate Shizhaishan Dian cultures of Yunnan. These include Heger I cowrie-drum containers and decorated mouth organs. Potential links are also seen in recent Shizhaishan excavation of headless burials and Samon headless bronze ‘mother-goddess’ figures used to decorate coffins as well as disarticulated inhumations found in both Samon and Dian cultures. There are few radiocarbon results for the Samon culture (circa 600 BCE-400 CE) but most predate the early centuries CE. This lecture will examine the origins of bronze production in the Myanmar-Yunnan cultural sphere.
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