via International Journal of Historical Archaeology, 22 September 2021: A new paper by Moonkham and Duff looking at the spatial arrangement of temples in the ancient city of Chiang Saen.
This article applies space syntax analysis as an experimental tool to assess the spatial organization and social landscape among the Chiang Saen community in Northern Thailand. This article aims to highlight concepts and interpretations of social spaces that have both ritual and domestic components, providing insights into similarities and differences in the use of space. Space syntax research elsewhere has shed light on issues of social behavior through spatial accessibility. Application of the method to the spatial arrangements in sites in Northern Thailand that span the Buddhist reform period of the fourteenth century CE enhances our understanding of similar issues. The space syntax analysis demonstrates common systems found among six archaeological sites: the first is an asymmetrical and hierarchical pattern, which reflects elements of a strongly conventional temple pattern characteristic of the post-reform period, and the second identified the symmetrical and “openness” qualities of social spaces, a less regimented spatial pattern more aligned with local religious practices. The results demonstrate that the spatial arrangement in most temples is a combination of both spatial and social systems which also indicates negotiation and change between the two, suggesting diverse social activities and religious ideas were practiced and performed at the temples.