Here are three recently-published papers about Thai Archaeology that may be of interest, from Antiquity and the Journal of World Prehistory:
A prehistoric copper-production centre in central Thailand: its dating and wider implications
Thomas F.G. Higham, Andrew D. Weiss, Charles F.W. Higham, Christopher Bronk Ramsey, Jade d’Alpoim Guedes, Sydney Hanson, Steven A. Weber, Fiorella Rispoli, Roberto Ciarla, Thomas O. Pryce and Vincent C. Pigott
The Khao Wong Prachan Valley of central Thailand is one of four known prehistoric loci of copper mining, smelting and casting in Southeast Asia. Many radiocarbon determinations from bronze-consumption sites in north-east Thailand date the earliest copper-base metallurgy there in the late second millennium BC. By applying kernel density estimation analysis to approximately 100 new AMS radiocarbon dates, the authors conclude that the valley’s first Neolithic millet farmers had settled there by c. 2000 BC, and initial copper mining and rudimentary smelting began in the late second millennium BC. This overlaps with the established dates for Southeast Asian metal-consumption sites, and provides an important new insight into the development of metallurgy in central Thailand and beyond.
Three thousand years of farming strategies in central Thailand
Jade d’Alpoim Guedes, Sydney Hanson, Thanik Lertcharnrit, Andrew D. Weiss, Vincent C. Pigott, Charles F.W. Higham, Thomas F.G. Higham and Steven A. Weber
In prehistoric coastal and western-central Thailand, rice was the dominant cultivar. In eastern-central Thailand, however, the first known farmers cultivated millet. Using one of the largest collections of archaeobotanical material in Southeast Asia, this article examines how cropping systems were adapted as domesticates were introduced into eastern-central Thailand. The authors argue that millet reached the region first, to be progressively replaced by rice, possibly due to climatic pressures. But despite the increasing importance of rice, dryland, rain-fed cultivation persisted throughout ancient central Thailand, a result that contributes to refining understanding of the development of farming in Southeast Asia.
Bronze Metallurgy in Southeast Asia with Particular Reference to Northeast Thailand
C. F. W. Higham and H. Cawte
The long-awaited definitive chronology for the period from the initial use of bronze metallurgy to the end of the Iron Age on the Khorat Plateau of Northeast Thailand has received near universal acceptance. In this review, we trace how bronze was deployed, and assess its social impact from the late Neolithic communities that first encountered metal to the civilization of Angkor. We identify eight phases that, for the prehistoric period, centred on the anchor site of Ban Non Wat, beginning in the eleventh century BC with imported copper axes and the opening of the first mines and associated smelting sites. This was followed in the second and third phases of the Bronze Age by a dramatic increase in mortuary wealth in the graves of social aggrandizers. After about eight generations, bronzes were locally cast in bivalve moulds. However, no further elite burials were found and bronze mortuary offerings were very rare. From about 400 BC, the opening of seaborne exchange networks, the establishment of dynastic China and climatic change then stimulated marked regionality. On the Khorat Plateau, many more bronzes were interred with the dead, but casting activity in the consumer sites declined. In the early centuries AD, increased aridity stimulated an agricultural revolution as sites were ringed by reservoirs and wet rice was grown in ploughed fields. This was accompanied by a surge in the range and number of bronzes with the new social elite that within a century led to the formation of early states. The new royalty now sponsored bronze statues, leading directly on to the dynastic foundries of Angkor, when massive bronzes reflected royal divinity.