via New Mandala, 28 Feb 2019: Following up on the previous news about proposed oil drilling near the Si Thep archaeological site in Thailand’s Petchabun province. The news is starting to gain some traction in Thai media, but I ask that you to help raise awareness about this ongoing development. Any kind drilling for oil will be destructive to an area that is definitely full of archaeological remains. #savesithep
Si Thep Historical Park was on track to become one of Thailand’s candidates for UNESCO heritage status. However, news broke on 25 February 2019 that shocked and angered the local community in Si Thep, as well as the academic community and those working within the heritage industry. ECO Orient Resources (Thailand) Ltd and ECO Orient Energy (Thailand) Ltd had organised a public hearing about plans to construct a drilling rig just 100 metres away from one of the historical park’s largest monuments, Khao Khlang Nok stupa. Khao Khlang Nok is Thailand’s largest stupa, a 64 by 64-metre stupa that stands 20 metres tall and dating back to at least the ninth century CE.
Si Thep Historical Park and its surrounding site deserves proper conservation and should be preserved for the future rather than traded for oil profits, which will benefit neither locals nor sustainable development in Phetchabun. Si Thep is potentially the largest ancient urban site in Thailand, its lifespan stretching back to the first to twelfth centuries CE. Si Thep Historical Park alone covers an area of 622.2 hectares. My study using old aerial photographs of the site revealed a complex system of hydraulic features and a third moat system that extends out beyond the area in Khao Khlang Nok, making the ‘city’ area approximately 1,544 hectares. A rough population estimate, base on water tanks, wells, site counts within the city, and material dispersal places the city’s population estimates at around 80,000 at conservative levels and 120,000 at a higher bound. Si Thep’s size and scale is then comparable with some of the more famous UNESCO Heritage Cities in Southeast Asia like Beikthano and Bagan in Myanmar.