via Thai PBS, 25 September 2023: Si Thep, an ancient town in Phetchabun Province, Thailand, has recently gained attention due to its UNESCO World Cultural Heritage recognition. Known as the “Lost Hindu Town,” it was rediscovered in 1904 and has remained relatively obscure compared to other Thai historical sites like Sukhothai and Ayutthaya. The town is a melting pot of Dvaravati, Hindu, and ancient Khmer arts and has a rich history of salt and iron production.
Now encompassed within Si Thep Historical Park, Si Thep emerged as an urban centre from a prehistoric farming village in the Lopburi-Pa Sak River Valley some 1,500-2,500 years ago. With intensive salt and iron production and its strategic location between the Chao Phraya lowland and the Korat Plateau (between the Mon and the Khmer), small communities flourished and became a vibrant town, a pivotal hub for trade and cultural exchange.
During its zenith, spanning from the sixth to the eleventh century, Si Thep played a crucial role in the Dvaravati culture, leading many academics to speculate that Si Thep might have served as the seat of Dvaravati, rather than Uthong or Nakhon Pathom. For 800 years, Si Thep thrived with a blend of Dvaravati, Hindu, and ancient Khmer arts before the city was eventually abandoned about 200 years before the emergence of Sukhothai and Ayutthaya.